The beautifully enchanting story of The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey primarily takes its inspiration from an old Russian Fairy tale ‘Snegurochka’, but the author also admits that she took inspiration from many other re-tellings of the story taking and adapting ideas and themes to eventually write this delightful, heart-warming and emotional tale of friendship, family and nature.
Using the Russian tale as a base for her writing Eowyn Ivey also weaves the original tale into her own novel through the eyes of Mabel, whose father had read the fairy tale to her as a child. Mabel’s reading of Snegurochka somewhat foreshadows events that unfold in The Snow Child teasing the reader with possibilities, some which follow through whilst others distort the obvious and change the outcome.
In fitting with its fairy-tale roots the novel set in 1920’s Alaska has a mysterious and almost magical feel. The author who was raised and still lives in Alaska describes this harsh but enchanting, winter land so brilliantly at times the descriptions of the cold truly made me shiver. The harsh but amazing quality of the setting not only takes the reader to the heart of the story but also adds to the unique and esoteric air of the writing.
The folk tale style story follows Jack and Mabel, a childless couple who move to a remote homestead in Alaska to make a new life for themselves. Their lives are suddenly changed when a mysterious young girl turns up on their land. With no idea where she came from the girl comes and goes with an otherworldly air of mystic. Ivey builds relationships, family and emotion around the appearance of this strange and surreal child. Although the author took inspiration from the Snegurochka she has also added new details that further add to the mystery surrounding the girl, leaving the reader still unsure to the very end – perhaps allowing them to decide the origins of the girl for themselves.
Brilliantly written and beautifully described alongside a moving and unique story of magic and emotion I would strongly recommend this book.