Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Snow Child” as Want to Read:
The Snow Child
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Excerpt

The Snow Child

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  70,205 Ratings  ·  9,741 Reviews
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 gl ...more
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Reagan Arthur Books (first published 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Snow Child, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Susan Rouchard the poetry of this book hovering between fairy tale and hard realism.
Desi I felt like it was done to add to the fairy-tale like quality of the moments with a snow child, like she was there, but not really there.

For me it…more
I felt like it was done to add to the fairy-tale like quality of the moments with a snow child, like she was there, but not really there.

For me it added a dreamy like quality to the scenes with her.
Kind of like how sounds are muffled when it snows.


Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 17, 2012 karen rated it it was amazing

when i was about one hundred pages from the end of this book, i tugged on greg's sleeve at work, and said, "is this gonna end sad??"

and he refused to answer.

i think that was a good impulse.

because i almost don't wanna review this. this book was such a beautiful journey, and taking place as it does over a number of years, there are naturally high and low points, emotionally.

but i'm not going to tell you how it ends up.

i will tell you that i VERY NEARLY CRIED early on. like page 42-early.i misted
Emily May
May 22, 2012 Emily May rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, fairy-tales

I put off reading The Snow Child because it wasn't something I would have chosen for myself without the extremely positive reviews of other goodreads members. If it is not obvious to you from the description alone, then this book is not mostly plot-driven. It's charm is upheld by the characters, the relationships, and the sad, cold mood that seems to permeate the entire novel from open to close. It is the kind of novel that I sometimes have trouble with, the kind not concerned with action or dr
Mar 17, 2013 Nataliya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads

Once upon a time there lived a childless old couple...

This is not an uncommon beginning to folk tales, a simple introductory line which can (and in Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child does) condense into a few simple words the years of pain, sadness, and intense longing for something that nature refused to give despite desperate desire.
"Where else in life, Mabel wondered, could a woman love so openly and with such abandon?"

This is where I saw the strengths of The Snow Child - not in the imagery of Al
Reading Corner
Feb 05, 2016 Reading Corner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
So this story was beautiful with so many cute and heartbreaking moments. One of the best things in the book is the character development and the developing relationships throughout the story. From the start of the book, I nearly started crying because there was just scenes that were so heart wrenching especially at the end which completely broke my heart.

All the characters are perfect in this novel, they all have their faults but just as many strengths and the unexpected romance towards the end
Feb 24, 2016 Tabetha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"'There,' he said. He stepped back. Sculpted in the white snow were perfect, lovely eyes, a nose, and small, white lips. She even thought she could see cheekbones and a little chin...How could she speak her surprise? Such delicate features. formed by his calloused hands, a glimpse at his longing. Surely, he too, had wanted children...they believed that someday their Christmas mornings would reel with running children and squeals of delight. She sewed a small stocking of their firstborn and he s ...more
Dec 10, 2011 Nathan rated it it was amazing
It's truly gratifying to come across a book that evokes the senses to such a degree that its flavor is brought to the palate. Such is the case with Eowyn Ivey's debut novel, The Snow Child. Infused with aspects of pine boughs, mountain herbs, woolen mittens and inspired by happenstance, it breathes new life into an old Russian children's tale Ivey stumbled upon in her bookstore.

We come to know of aging Jack and Mabel through their childless sorrows, playful intense love and survivalist fortitude
Apr 15, 2012 Kris rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written book. The Snow Child is inspired by the Russian folktale in which a childless elderly couple make a snowchild that comes to life as a young girl. Ivey's use of the folktale is multilayered and inventive, and works very well in the book's setting of Alaska in the 1920s.

I cared about the characters, but I especially loved the depictions of the Alaskan wilderness throughout the seasons. The novel also pays homage to freedom and individuality, while at the same time cel
Jan 03, 2013 knig rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda Robinson
Jul 22, 2012 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing
Amazing talent, beautifully delivered. This is a five sense book, and maybe a sixth and seventh as well. I could hear a bull moose snorting, swan screaming, snow crunching, river ice cracking. I could taste moose meat for the thirtieth and 100th time; smell wet wool and blood, birch fire and moonshine. I could touch the two-man saw, feel the weight of an ax, and the tiny threads of intricate embroidery. And always, always the snow and the earth beneath. I could see rows and rows of crops growing ...more
Karly *The Vampire Ninja & Luminescent Monster*

I, is for Ivey

5 Stars

I'll let you in on a little secret *shhhhh* I love fairy tales, and the darker they are the better I like them. There is something so intriguing to me about the extremity of these stories, they appeal my twisted little brain. Oftentimes in darker, Grimm-style tales the punishment is so unsuitable for the indiscretion. It reminds me of "Hannibal" and his penchant for serving up people who are rude to him for dinner. So EXTREME, so deliciously *snicker* finite.

I mention the
I'm puzzled as to why this isn't considered Young Adult. Well, more of an eyebrow raise of sardonic 'Really? You're going to go that way?', for I have a pretty good idea of why this was pushed up into the adult realm. I simply don't agree with the argument for such.

Now, I adore new renditions of old tales as a matter of principle, for a host of reasons ranging from the past being a foreign and sometimes hateful country, to a childhood lust for urban fantasy that I never quite outgrew. Any story
Jun 27, 2012 Dem rated it it was amazing
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a wonderful fairytale for adults(and whoever fancies it) set against the harsh backdrop of 1920s Alaska. Sometimes a little of what you fancy does you good ! And so I fancied a fairytale and it did me the world of good!!!

This is the story of Jack and Mabel a childless couple who move to Alaska to farm and to etch a living from the harsh and frozen land. A man and woman set in their ways, Jack the stubborn sort who is too proud to ask for help and Mabel who fears f
Jan 14, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog
Poignant, melancholy and slow-moving, The Snow Child probably isn't for everyone and I'll admit that it probably would have been a 3 1/2 star if I hadn't read it at such a seasonally appropriate time. With temperatures in the single digits, the wind whipping outside, and my part of the world brought to a halt by the "wintry mix" falling from the sky, this was the perfect book to curl up with and therefore I'm tacking on that extra half star anyway.

Well past middle-age, Jack and Mabel strike out
“No warm blood in me doth glow,
Water in my veins doth flow;
Yet I’ll laugh and sing and play
By frosty night and frosty day–
Little daughter of the Snow.

“But whenever I do know
That you love me little, then
I shall melt away again.
Back into the sky I’ll go–
Little daughter of the Snow.”

- An extract from Little Daughter of the Snow by Arthur Ransome.
You can read the short story here.

This book... it's a dream. An unhurried, ethereal, captivating dream - so captivating, that I cleared out my currently
Wendy Darling
4.5 shining stars Utterly, utterly gorgeous. Review to come.
Mar 02, 2016 M rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Whilst reading this, a line from the movie 'From Dusk Till Dawn' came into my head... George Clooney's character says something like "I don't give a rat's ass about you or your f****** family. You can all live forever or die this second - I don't care which."

Well, that pretty much sums up how I felt about the characters in this book.

Once again, for me, this was yet another book devoid of conflict and tension - or any kind of plot, actually. And what plot there was, was lifted from a fairy tale.
Jan 18, 2016 ☮Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
On the cover is an adorable little blond girl out in the snow peaking out from behind a tree. This image stuck with me every time she was mentioned in the book. Fantasies are usually not my thing at all, but I loved this little girl and the sweet, childless couple she graced. Where did she come from and where did she go each time she disappeared? The writing was so beautiful and flawless, I could picture every scene. A lovely story apropos to this frigid January. ...more
May 05, 2015 Caroline rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of magical realism, fans of fairy tale re-tellings

Eowyn Ivey’s dreamy tale is very difficult to describe in a way that will do it justice; it’s truly as unique, as, well, a snowflake. One good description for it is a single word: atmospheric, but maybe the best place to start is simply to discuss its genre; this is “magical realism,” the integration of magical elements in a realistic setting. The Snow Child is a great choice for readers who dislike fantasy and also those who dislike straight-up realistic fiction or literary fic
Feb 16, 2015 Kaora rated it really liked it
In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees.

The Snow Child is based on a fairy tale. Jack and Mabel are a childless couple living in Alaska, struggling to survive the harsh winters and keep their farm. During the first snowfall they build a little girl from snow, and awake the next morning to find footprints in the snow and the child gone. Soon they are seei
Jan 29, 2012 Isamlq rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved…

…The back story, why they were in Alaska to begin with was heartbreaking. Know that it isn’t a quick story, rather it’s slow and filled with emotions that could be hard and then soft then funny then good. The story stretches over a pretty long period … and in this period, I saw how each of them grew with each other and grew accustomed to things.

…That it really was the fresh start she was looking for. And against this new backdrop, I saw how they got to know each other, the place and then
helen the bookowl
Dec 26, 2014 helen the bookowl rated it it was amazing
5 out of 5 stars without doubt!
I'm so happy I read this book during Christmas and while it was snowing outside, because if there's one book that is suited for winter, this is the one! From the very first pages, I could feel the cold of the snow and the bleak mood of the winter which was portrayed in the book, and even though the story started out depressing I loved it!
Mabel and Jack were some of the best main characters I've read about for a long time. Their marriage and their relationship and
Dec 16, 2013 Diane rated it it was amazing
I became utterly absorbed in this story set in the Alaska wilderness and gobbled the book up in just two sittings. Jack and Mabel decided to start a new life in Alaska after their child was stillborn. Homesteading is a hard life, and their grief made it even more difficult. One night, when it started to snow, they built a snowgirl in the yard, complete with mittens, a scarf, yellow grass for hair and berry-red lips.

The next morning, the snowgirl had been destroyed and the mittens and scarf were
Evelyn (devours and digests words)
EDIT: 30th of March 2016

I can't sleep so I decided to make a few edits that I hope are 'whimsical' enough to match the 'mood' of this enchanting Russian fairytale retelling.

All quotes used in the graphics below belong to Eowyn Ivey.

While I read The Snow Child I pictured snow-covered barren grounds, blizzards of swirling snowflakes, and having never experienced real snow before, I could even almost feel the biting cold that comes with the story.

That is how good Eowyn Ivey does her imager
Eowyn Ivey's debut The Snow Child is one of those zeitgeist books that seems to have a significant buzz about it right now. Whether this is because of great PR, reader word-of-mouth or simply that it's really that good, people seem to be talking about this book, and the burgeoning hype, along with the promise of an intriguing, magical story, grabbed my interest. When I spotted a special offer (fyi - use the code SNOWCHIL at Amazon UK to get the hardback for 5.99!), I was sold.

Beginning in 1920,
Jun 25, 2014 Arah-Lynda rated it really liked it
Recommended to Arah-Lynda by: karen
Shelves: lod, i-said

This incredibly beautiful story was inspired by and tenderly envelopes an Old Russian folktale. One evening an elderly, childless couple build a girl out of snow. Come morning it is missing, leaving faint footprints, from where the snow child once stood.

Set deep in the Alaskan wilderness, the environment is like a mirror on our couple, one that Ivey breathes life into, through the many seasons of this tale. I loved the stark, majestic beauty of the always there and always demanding landscape.

Dec 12, 2011 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eowyn Ivey’s first novel, The Snow Child, is so wonderful that I am very nearly lost for words.

Early in the 1920s Mabel and Jack move to Alaska. They are middle-aged and childless, and they know that, after a still-birth, they are unlikely to ever have a child to raise.

They plan a new life.

That new life is hard. Their homestead is isolated, their land is difficult to work, and as winter comes their food stocks are perilously low.

But Mabel and Jack have hope, and they see beauty in the world arou
Final rating: 4/5 stars

“We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That’s where the adventure is. Not knowing where you’ll end up or how you’ll fare. It’s all a mystery, and when we say any different, we’re just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?”

I liked this book. It is nice, lovely, but it has only two flaws. It has reaaaaaaally long intro into the story and the pacing is slow. I didn't mind it though because in th
Jan 18, 2013 Noeleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes you need a book that will take you away from reality and the humdrum of everyday life. The Snow Child is perfect for that little getaway. I’m not a huge fan of magical realism, I try and avoid it where possible, it just doesn’t click with me, but surprisingly I did really enjoy this book. For a debut novel, it’s very evident that Eowyn Ivey is an extremely talented writer.

Set in the wilderness of 1920s Alaska, The Snow Child tells the story of Jack and Mabel, a childless couple, whose
So many of my goodreads friends loved this book. I needed to read it to complete a group challenge. If not for that I would have abandoned it. It's well done, just not within my personal tastes. The only thing of interest to me was the winter homestead life depicted in Alaska. But like those winters, it went on and on.
Apr 09, 2012 Juliet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the remote Alaskan hinterland, in 1920, a fifty-ish couple struggle to make a new life on an isolated smallholding. Jack performs the back-breaking work of clearing the land while Mabel struggles with her grief over the long-ago loss of their only child. Then, when the first snow falls, they make a snow girl together. From this brief moment of light-heartedness grows a remarkable story of love, loss, belief and magic.

The Snow Child is based on a Russian fairy tale, Snegurochka or The Snow Mai
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Gillespie and I
  • Diving Belles
  • Running the Rift
  • The Vanishing Act
  • The Rathbones
  • No One is Here Except All of Us
  • Mink River
  • The Land of Decoration
  • The Flight of Gemma Hardy
  • The Orchardist
  • Mary Coin
  • The Thorn and the Blossom
  • The Fox Woman
  • A Good American
  • My Dear I Wanted to Tell You
  • The Cove
  • Elijah's Mermaid
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
Eowyn Ivey's first novel, The Snow Child, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction and an international bestseller. Her newest novel To the Bright Edge of the World will be released August 2, 2016. Eowyn was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters.

Learn more:
Blog: Letters from Alaska
More about Eowyn Ivey...

Share This Book

“We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That’s where the adventure is. Not knowing where you’ll end up or how you’ll fare. It’s all a mystery, and when we say any different, we’re just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?” 144 likes
“In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees.” 116 likes
More quotes…