The Snow Child

A review of a novel by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child

Set in the 1920s, The Snow Child follows the move of middle-aged Jack and Mabel from ‘back east’ America to a remote homestead in Alpine, Alaska. Heavy with the loss of their firstborn and only child many years earlier, they seek to change the pattern of their lives in a context of icy ravines and wild silence.

In the moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, Jack and Mabel build a child out of snow. They next morning, the snow child is gone – but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

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 the snow child will transform all of them.

I didn’t quite fall in love with this story the way I wanted to.

I did, however, enjoy the characters. I was never bored reading about their humble, honest, hardworking lives and the frozen Alaskan tundra sounded gorgeous and both of these strengths made putting this book down almost impossible. But I’m sad to say that this is a character-driven story where not a lot happens, yet the story feels like something is going to happen at any minute. Yet, it does not.

So, that is why I can’t say that I hate this story, because I don’t, but it wasn’t a favorite, either. It’s a nice story in every way, but not once did I ever feel shaken or swept away by it.