This a beautifully written and haunting story.
by Eowyn Ivey
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books (February 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316175676
- ISBN-13: 978-0316175678
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0
Publication Date: February 1, 2012
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them..
This tale starts slowly but ends wonderfully. At midway I was actually thinking of stopping. I am sincerely glad I did not as from that point on the tale was captivating and I didn’t want to put the book down.
The story starts by introducing Mabel and Jack: a couple in mid life who are struggling to survive a new life they have chosen in the brutal, harsh land of Alaska. Their nearest neighbors are miles away and Jack is barely able to get enough crop to see them through winter. They are together but separated by unshared grief at the loss of their only child who died at birth. Jack was unable at the time to comfort Mabel and she drew into herself so they became disconnected as a couple. They moved to Alaska so that Mabel could be away from her family and all the reminders of what she lost and does not have. The depression, sorrow and life struggles, though poignantly written, made the story difficult at that point.
One evening Jack and Mabel have an unexpected frolic in the new snow. They join in making a little snow girl. It is the first time in a long time that they have shared some happiness together. The next morning when they look out the scarf and mittens are missing and there are footprints leading away into the woods. They begin to see a child, who wears the scarf and mittens, peeking out from the trees. But is it just a dream? At first Jack barely acknowledges the presence and allows their new “neighbor” friends to think that Mabel has suffered from snow madness. Yet slowly the child begins to show herself and finally comes into their home. But when summer comes Faina disappears and they, and the reader, are left wondering if she was real.
Mabel had a fairy tale story as a child about a snow child. Is this all a creation from her childhood memories? And how did that story end? Was there a happy ending or only tragedy?
Over the next years Jack and Mabel watch over the wild child, Faina, as she visits in winter and disappears each summer. She becomes a daughter to them. Their neighbor’s son, Garrett, who loves hunting and trapping, has become an invaluable help to Jack on the farm. They have to be careful that Garrett doesn’t shoot Faina’s companion, a red fox, but, in truth, that will not be their only worry.
It became fascinating to share the joy and pain of Mabel and Jack as they watch their “child” come and go...and grow. They have no way to hold her wild spirit, and no way to protect her. The writing is beautifully rich and haunting. I am not certain if there are real fairy tales of a snow child but this one certainly brings the idea alive. Although you may want to be prepared for a slower pacing in the beginning, I do recommend this as a wonderfully enchanting story full of rich human emotion.
Examples of the beautiful writing:
Fear of the gray, not just in the strands of her hair and her wilting cheeks, but the gray that ran deeper, to the bone, so that she thought she might turn into a fine dust and simply sift away in the wind. P32Motherly love:
Love and devotion, the devastating hope and fear contained in a woman’s swelling womb—these were left unspoken. P338
Thank you to Little Brown & Co. (Reagan Arthur Books) for providing this book for review.
TO ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY for the hardcover review copy:
1. Please visit the author's website and tell me something you find of interest there OR follow the book link at the title above, watch the video trailer and comment on that. One of these is required for entry.
2. For an extra entry, become a follower (GFC, Twitter, FB, email) or tell me if you are already a follower.
3. For two more entries, blog, facebook, tweet (any of those networks!) about this giveaway and tell me where you did.
It isn't necessary to use separate entries unless you want them in different chronological order.
(four total entries possible.)
THERE WILL BE ONE WINNER.
* This contest is only open to residents of US and Canada.
* No P.O. Boxes Please - for shipping reasons.* This contest will close 10 PM (Central) on March 30, 2012.
The winner will be randomly selected from all entries and announced on March 31 with 72 hours to complete the winners form.