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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Before I start my review I want to point out that this isn't the kind of book I usually read so perhaps that would explain why I didn't love it quite as much as so many others have. I did still like the story but it didn't wow me the same way it did most of my friends who have read it. The story is based on a Russian fairy tale but it isn't one that I was familiar with so I won't be making comparisons between them.

Set in the 1920s The Snow Child tells the story of Mabel and Jack who move to Alaska hoping for a fresh start. They married late in life and after suffering a still birth they were never blessed with more children. It isn't easy to settle into life in the wilderness, the harsh weather makes for difficult living conditions and life is more lonely than they were expecting it to be. When the first snow arrives the couple build a snow child but the next morning their creation has disappeared. Strangely there are tiny footprints walking into the woods and Jack is sure he spotted a small child in the forest. As the couple slowly get to know the almost feral child who appears to live on her own in the mountains they also find themselves settling into their new life. They are happier than they have been in years and even begin to make friends with their neighbours.

The story is beautifully written and so descriptive that you feel like you've stepped into Jack and Mabel's world. In fact every time I stopped reading to glance out of the window I was surprised not to see snow! Eowyn Ivey has really captured the harsh beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, it's not an easy place to survive thanks to the fierce weather conditions but there is a pure beauty about it that makes you long for more simple times and want to be at one with nature. This is one of those books where the setting is the main character and it was the one I was most connected to.

My problem was that I never really felt I got to know Mabel and Jack well and I didn't feel invested in their story. Whenever I picked up the book I enjoyed reading it but when I put it down it was easy to be distracted by other things and I never felt compelled to pick it up again. The fact that it took me 8 days to read the book (even though I read 6 other books during the same period and I'm someone who never usually reads more than one book at a time) shows that. Like I said this isn't the kind of book I usually read though so don't let me put you off giving it a try. It was still an enjoyable read and I think anyone who likes this type of story will love it.
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on 30 July 2013
I'll be totally open about this: I bought it in haste before heading out the door for a weekend of camping with a long journey at either end, knowing I was going to run out of reading material. I'd just finished reading the NIght Circus and this was recommended, had high reviews and had won an award so I thought I'd take a punt.

To be fair, it has some beautiful prose that evoke the Alaskian setting but I didn't like the storyline and didn't empathise with the characters. I realise it's meant to be a period piece so the role of the women is outmoded, but I found the heavy focus on the couple being childless uninteresting. I got frustrated that the book never committed itself to being straight fiction or fantasy. I didn't like the end at all, but won't go into detail as I'm struggling to explain why without totally spoiling it for those who will enjoy this book.
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on 14 March 2014
This is Eowyn Ivey’s début novel based on the Russian fairytale, "Snegurochka", which translates to "Little daughter of the snow".

I will admit that I committed the ultimate sin when purchasing this book – I fell in love with the cover and bought it mainly for that reason.

There are very few characters in the book and the story is mainly centred around Jack, Mabel and Faina. The descriptive of the Alaskan wilderness is as vivid as you could get, and you can imagine being stood in the middle of this harsh, yet beautiful land that Eowyn obviously knows well.

Jack and Mabel have moved away from the city life of the 1920’s, in to the Alaskan wilderness, so that they can be alone, after Mabel lost her child years ago and is still grieving and struggling with seeing other parents and their children.

In the wilderness, Jack runs their small farm single-handed(at first), which is hard going and taking its toll on him. Mabel is stuck at home all day and is become increasingly lonely and depressed. Life in the wilderness isn’t turning out the way they hoped it would.

During the first snowfall of the year, Mabel decides that she wants to be childish and for the two of them to build a ‘snow child’ together. Jack carves a beautiful face into the little girl they have built and Mabel places a hat and mittens on her. Night falls and they return to their little cabin.

The next morning when they wake, they find that the ‘Snow child’ has vanished and all that is left is a trail of small foot prints heading into the forest.

Jack enters the forest and catches sight of a young girl wearing the same hat and mittens, a young feral girl who seems to be living up in the mountains.

The girl, named Faina, becomes friendly with Jack and Mabel and comes regularly to visit them, though she very rarely will enter their home. With the help of Faina, the couple find that they are now becoming increasingly happier.

The couple start to fall in love with Faina, but they still have no idea where she lives nor where she goes when she leaves them.

Who is Faina really?

As the story is based on a fairytale, there is a mixture of both fantasy and reality to it, which fit well together. We are never told exactly who ‘Faina’ is, or where she came from or go’s to. That is for your own imagination to work out.

The book is not a fast paced, roller coaster of a book. It is a slow yet enchanting read that some might find hard going. Saying that, I never felt I was struggling with the story and was constantly absorbed in to the Alaskan lifestyle of the 20’s.

It is heart warming, yet gut wrenching at the same time, and you can feel all the emotions that the characters carry throughout the book.

The character’s are well thought out and Jack and Mabel are a loveable couple who just fit perfectly together. Faina, is this shy, reserved, child that you never fully understand.

Is she real or is she actually the child they made of snow, come to life?

This is number one on my list of my top ten books and I have read it more than once. My copy has been passed around my family who have all enjoyed it.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 3 April 2013
This is an elegantly written, whimsical story with likeable characters and a well depicted setting. It is a retelling of a traditional Russian fairytale, set in Alaska in the 1920s. It's an easily readable story that flows well from the start. Although the cast of character is small, all are perfectly formed, from steadfast elderly couple Jack and Mabel, to the ethereal 'snow child' of the title. The relationships between the characters are all beautifully written. The story has a slightly magical element to it, but this is very underplayed, perhaps more so than the cover blurb suggested. For this reason I think readers who dislike 'fantasy' elements in a story shouldn't be put off. The Alaskan wilderness is almost a character in its own right, and the lives of the farmers are described in a way that is interesting and realistic, without being dull. I felt I could identify with the characters despite their lives being very different from my own. The reader is easily drawn into their world and the storytelling is emotional without being mawkish or melodramatic.

My criticism is that, rather like the 'snow child' herself, there is something light and insubstantial about the book. I suppose it could be described as 'nice' rather than 'great'. I have a feeling it is not a story that will haunt me or stay with me for long after reading, despite having enjoyed it at the time. Despite the powerful themes of grief, love and loss, it never moved me to tears or left me with my heart thumping. I also got frustrated by the author's inconsistency in writing dialogue, sometimes with and sometimes without speech marks, and I struggled to mentally pronounce a main character's name, meaning I tripped over it every time. I know this is nitpicking, but these small things can have a big impact on the reading experience when widespread throughout a book.

That said, it gets four stars for being an enjoyable read and one whose faults are mostly in not being better, rather than being inherently bad. It would be good holiday reading, probably of more appeal to female readers (I know, a gross generalisation). Readers who like a bit of magic in their stories will particularly like it, but shouldn't expect an outright fantasy.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 February 2013
In her afterword first time author Eowyn Ivey recounts the sense that all her life she has been looking for a particular story:

"For as long as I can remember, I have been looking for 'my' story.......I turned the pages (of everything she read) and searched for something that would fit this empty space inside of me"

It is this sense of longing, and that a story can be more than itself which gives this book its flavour. Based on an Arthur Ransome retelling of an old Russian fairy story, Ivey's The Snow Child speaks of the longing for children, the pain of their loss (whether through death or just the inevitable leaving behind of childhood) and, particularly the connection to landscape.

She sets her story in the Alaska of the 1920s where Mabel and Jack, a childless couple in their 50s have come, leaving the city to find quiet and make a connection with the reality of the land. So the book is also about a group of people who struggle with, and against, the harshness of an implacable, indifferent, stunningly beautiful landscape and climate. As much as the story of the relationships between parents and children, lovers and friends, the fierce independence of frontiers people, this is a story about our connection to the mythic as well as the actual, power and presence of the natural world.

This might not do for readers who prefer a more directly narrative writing. Ivey takes her time, finding the description of a snowflake as important as narrative drive - here, she diverges from her source, as plot is the essence of the faerie tale, which gets there in the shortest possible time.

If, on the other hand, you are still a reader of faerie and myth, well told, this should delight you with its charm and sweetness - NOT saccharine at all, but a genuine sweetness

I came to this after one of Amazon's helpful 'if you enjoyed this, you may enjoy this' links - in this case The Night Circus - another excellent, though darker, tale
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on 14 December 2012
The Snow Child is an absolutely beautiful, captivating read full of poignancy and heartache that touches your heart. A perfect seasonal read and one that has illuminated my Christmas with its warmth and depth of emotion, hence I would highly recommend this as a book to read by the fire (whilst huddled under a blanket with Mulled Wine & mince pies!). It is a magical tale about finding love in the most unexpected of places, and which embodies the true meaning of love as it explores the inner workings of the heart. Full of hope that is kindle this story will warm your heart, as it inspires and empowers readers filling you with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Set in Alaska during the 1920's, one follows the story of Jack and Mabel as they attempt to make a new start in a remote area. The stark wilderness is something quite unfamiliar to them both and which for Mabel brings back haunting memories, of the baby that she lost many years ago. When a little girl appears on their land one wintry day both Mabel and Jack are filled with wonder and curiosity, but also foreboding; as there is more to this child than initially meets the eye...Written with clarity and vividness of the Russian fairytale from which it takes its inspiration from, The Snow Child is the making of a timeless classic!

The atmosphere was so `real' as the harsh beauty of the landscape was what really captured my imagination, to then shape this story thus adding to the entire feel of the book. The fact that Mabel and Jack are unable to have children is such a harsh reality to contemplate and you really get a sense of their deep, hidden emotions that are eating away inside of them both, especially even more so when the `snow child' appears. The struggles that the characters face and what they must endure within this barren, harsh land you can feel through the words their blood, sweat and tears like on the farm & with money being tight; it is certainly far removed from polite society of the city! This young child is the catalyst for change and who ultimately brings love back into their shaky relationship, although all is not as straightforward as one may presume for this girl harbors many hidden secrets of her own!

This re-telling of the Russian fairytale `Snegurochk' is just so original, modern and current and which is brought to a wider readership by Eowyn Ivey. If you love detailed descriptions then this moving, affecting narrative will totally mesmerize you for the author captures every little detail and in doing so the snowy world comes vividly to life before your very eyes! It is not a fast-paced read and some of the descriptions (i.e. hunting wild animals) are quite lengthy, and so it is a novel that will not be to everyone's taste. This literary debut has been chosen by Richard & Judy's book club as a best read, being not only a bestseller but debut novel of 2012 - which is most deserved. I really enjoyed this book despite its slower pace and drawn-out descriptive detail, hence why I have rated it only 4.
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This beautifully written book tells the story of Mabel and Jack who have moved to Alaska to forge a new life following the still birth of their only child. As they work tirelessly in the harsh environment they both carry with them the longing for a child. Mabel has heard the Russian fairy tale of the Snow Child and one evening when the first of the winter snow falls she and Jack sculpt a little girl out of snow. But following that a real little girl appears - at first they only glimpse her but gradually she comes to trust them more.

But who is Faina? Is she real or is she just a figment of their imaginations because of their desperation to be parents? Eowyn Ivey is deliberately ambiguous and this is a strength of the book.

It is not the sort of book I would usually choose but I was quickly drawn into the story. The love story between Mabel and Jack is so tender and believable. Their neighbours Esther and George are great characters and came alive on the page. Who would not want a friend like goodhearted Esther?

Although the writing is lovely, in the end the story was rather slight. I was not sure what the author was hoping we would take from it. Perhaps it was the meaning of parenthood and how the very thing you love cannot be yours forever but will have to eventually be set free.
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on 28 June 2013
There are a lot of good points to this book; the Alaskan sense of place is well established by someone who obviously knows it first hand. The setting in the 1920s also gives an interest in seeing how these early pioneers survived - not just physically in terms of heating and food and shelter but also their state of mind and what they did to keep their spirits ups.
However the spartan landscape meant there were few neighbours and transport was limited for long periods of the year so the cast list is pared down to six - well, just two really, the homesteaders of Jack and Mabel. The snow child is rarely seen and the neighbours come to visit now and again.
Whilst the descriptions of the wildlife (moose, bears and birds), and the steps taken to survive, are novel for those of us living in European towns, it is not enough on it's own.
The plot moves forward at a snails pace - the couple have been unable to have a child (did they try after one attempt and if not why not?) so after reading a Russian story book one duly arrives. Is she or isnt she real? Well, apparently the latter as the neighbours meet her and she gets pregnant. But no, she still wants to flit about in her nightie and trap wild animals.
This all seems a bit far fetched and the ending felt a bit predictable.
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on 4 January 2013
Not the sort of book I would pick up normally, but read for a book group.

Concerns a couple who have moved to Alaska from mid america, and have tried for children and tragically lost one. They are finding it tough, and Mabel looses part of her income making it tougher still. After the first snowfall they make a snow girl, and put scarf and mittens on the character. The following morning the figure and the clothing items are gone. They start to see a small figure in-between the trees who seems to float across the snow.

They tentatively make contact with Faina and learn to love this child. She comes and goes as she pleases, and the bitter cold seems to have no effect on her physically. Each spring as the snow melts she vanishes and returns in the autumn shortly after the first fall of snow. The son of the family that befriends them, and helps them at their lowest ebb ends up falling in love with Faina.

It is part love story, part account of the the harsh Alaskan winter, part account of true friendship and deeply rooted in fairy stories.

The writing is beautiful in the book as well. Very good for a first novel.
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on 5 March 2012
Once in a while a book falls into your lap and you could almost swear it was dusted with pure magic. The Snow Child is one of those books. Inspired by the Russian fairytale of the same name, Eowyn Ivey weaves her magic bringing new depth to the timeless tale. Reading this book is like balancing on a fine line between reality and fantasy. The way the author has written it, you are never quite sure if you are reading a historical tale of pure fairytale.

The writing is vivid, mesmerising and bursting with description. I was completely absorbed in the story from the first paragraph. The contrast between hot and cold, constantly turning over in your mind, as you watch the weather and relationships change with the circle of life.

The characters radiate warmth from cold harshness of the landscape surrounding them. You quickly fall in love with each and every one of them; even the wild fox. Faina just oozes magic; you are never really quite sure if she is real or not; making the freezing cold winters of Alaska, her choice of home. By the end of the book, you no longer see how dismal and dangerous the Alaskan weather is ; all you envisage is the magic and beauty of a perfectly white landscape. This book truly shows you how magical and unique nature actually is; from the presence of the Northern lights, to the sleeping bear and her cubs. The story melts your heart.

By the end of the book, I was weeping like a baby. Certain scenes really touched me and I really struggled to put this book down and not start reading it again from the beginning.

The book reminded me a lot of the Little House on the Prairie books, especially the first couple in the series where they live in a house completely isolated. It also had the magical elements I found so enjoyable in The Girl With The Glass Feet by Ali Shaw and I can now see why he was asked to review it for the cover.

I truly loved every word of this book and it will definitely be one I want to read again and again.
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