Another day, another guest review from a brilliant fellow blogger! This time the words come from Sian of Rebel Angel, who I’ve been following for a couple of years now. When I first started blogging I was hosting on Blogger and came across Rebel Angel through my recommendations – it’s a wonderfully down to earth, chatty and humorous lifestyle blog documenting Sian’s life, adventures, career, cooking, clothes and beauty, and also, occasionally, BOOKS!
After a year or two of reading Sian’s blog I happened to talk about one of her posts to my Uni housemates in passing one night, and to my amusement and amazement it actually turned out she was a really close friend from school of my housemate Charley! Small world, right?! So even though I haven’t actually met her in person, I know from word of mouth AND the internet that she’s wonderful. Over to you, Sian!
Hi there! I’m Sian from Rebel Angel and I’m guest posting for Sarah while she’s away jetting off to better climes. I thought I’d just quickly tell you about myself first – I’m primarily a style blogger, but love reading too so I often include book reviews or roundups on my blog too. I decided to write about The Snow Child here on Reader.Writer.Nerd, for more information on my books and to see what I’m currently reading you can check out my Goodreads account here!
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.
The Snow Child is a book I read about a month ago now, but is one of those haunting tales that stays with you for a long time. Despite the fact that I’ve read about 8 other books since I finished it, I still find myself thinking about it now. The story is set in the brutal landscape of 1920s Alaska where a childless couple are setting up their own homestead with a life very different to the one they knew previously. They find themselves struggling against a bitter winter in a land they don’t know how to control, and being slowly torn apart by their troubles.
One evening, in a spat of child-like fun, they build a child of snow and wrap her in a scarf and gloves. The next morning, the snow-child is gone, but a mysterious child leaves footprints in the woods, and on their hearts.
Despite being a Classics graduate and loving books like Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, I’m not usually much of a fan of books set in ‘recent’ history. I think it’s just the fact that I think they can’t be that historically accurate if they’re written by someone now looking back. But this one, set in the 1920s, was different; it was the fact that you feel as if it’s set in an entirely different world in remote Alaska, and being so isolated that world could be the same even now. It was a desolate and haunting setting, but really beautifully written.
As the story progresses, it is less of a mystery and more fantasy. The couple, growing older, seem to live in a dreamlike world where summers and winters come and go as they grow with the child. Their lives seem to morph into a fairy tale world where folk stories become real. Even though it seems impossible to them, and to the reader, you’re drawn into believing the unbelievable along with them. It draws the couple, still grieving over their previously childless life, back together again; the sadness between them reflected in the changing landscape around them.
The ending though was quite different to what I expected. It did leave me wanting more of an explanation, but then again, that’s what good books do to me. It really does take you on an emotional journey into a world so unlike the one we’re used to, while still being a grounded novel. I highly recommend it if beautiful prose is your thing. You’ll find yourself drawn into the heartaches of the relationships of the characters and feel yourself becoming lost in the landscape along with them.
Have you read The Snow Child? Do you agree with Sian, or, has her review made you want to read it? I know that it’s going straight on my TBR pile when I get back!