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The Snow Child

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  97,210 Ratings  ·  12,850 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 ...more
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Reagan Arthur Books
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Morgan Lind My friend and I were actually able to get in contact with the author regarding this question. She said that she wanted Faina to have a sense of…moreMy friend and I were actually able to get in contact with the author regarding this question. She said that she wanted Faina to have a sense of "otherworldly-ness" to set her apart and allow her character to be looked at in a fairytale and "perfect" sense.(less)
Susan Rouchard the poetry of this book hovering between fairy tale and hard realism.

Community Reviews

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Jan 13, 2012 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
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairy-tales, 2012

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
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to the Goodreads community and my friends -- for the comments of inspiration while I was reading this book.

When "The Snow Child" was first released in 2012,
other that adoring the books cover, I was sure this book wasn't for me.
I'm not sure why or what I thought it was -I just 'passed-it-over'. Well, for what's it's worth...I am more than pleasantly surprised to discover how MUCH I LIKE THIS BOOK.
I don't seem to remember 'anyone' telling me it was a page turner.

The blend of myth and
Amalia Gavea
''There once was an old man and woman who loved each other very much and were content with their lot in life except for one great sadness- they had no children of their own.''

I've often read that it is difficult to write a review about books that left you indifferent, distant. I agree, but for me, writing a review about a novel that left me speechless with its beauty is equally hard. Where do words stop? Where should we stop analyzing and dissecting a work of literature and let the power of th
Apr 20, 2012 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
Norma * Traveling Sister
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sister-reads
A magical & classic fairytale story for adults!  (bringing back memories of our childhood)
Sister Read Review by Norma & Brenda

THE SNOW CHILD by EOWYN IVEY is a wonderful, heartwarming, sad, and beautifully told bewitching tale based on a Russian fairytale titled "Snegurochka", The Snow Maiden a girl who is believed to be half-human and half made of snow.  This enchanting story had us both asking ourselves was there something magical happening here or not?  Oh, but for us, there definitel
Reading Corner
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
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
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this sweet story! So much heart and a little magic!
“It was beautiful, Mabel knew, but it was a beauty that ripped you open and scoured you clean so that you were left helpless and exposed, if you lived at all.
. . .

Jack had always scoffed at the superstitious and mystical. Alone in the depths of the wilderness, however, in the fading winter light, he had discovered in himself an animal-like fear.”

A debut, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, and a wonderful story I’m happy to add to my list of favourites. I used to read myths and fairy tales, so I’m a pe
Jul 13, 2011 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
Jan 16, 2016 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
Heidi The Hippie Reader
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful, magic-tinged tale of an aging couple, the bleak Alaskan wilderness and a child who appears one day in the wood.

Mabel and Jack always wanted a child, but after suffering a miscarriage, they begin to lose hope of ever conceiving. Mabel suffers in female society without a child of her own.

She begs Jack to take her to Alaska for a fresh start. He agrees. But it doesn't work.

The weather is dark and freezing. The ground is hard and takes more effort than Jack can give. They aren't thrivin
With her sensational debut novel, Eowyn Ivey offers readers a healthy dose of rural Alaskan life balanced with a story that pulls on the heartstrings. Mabel and Jack have come to settle on the Alaskan home-front in the 1920s, having left behind the busy Pennsylvania lifestyle to which they had become accustomed. Childless and in their 50s, Jack and Mabel are forced to forge their own way and subsist on whatever they can accumulate. While Jack toils away on their land, Mabel’s idle time is spent ...more
Mar 25, 2012 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
Lindsay - Traveling Sister
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 stars! I truly enjoyed the experience of reading this beautifully written book! The author, Eowyn Ivey, has an unbelievably unique and astounding way with words. She paints such a clear picture that draws the reader right into the snow filled fields of the Alaskan homestead.

I was completely engrossed in Jack and Mabel's love story. The struggles they endured as a couple only made their bond stronger as husband and wife. I had endless sympathy for them as I witnessed their vulnerabilities as s
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
What happens when a childless couple, Jack and Mable, build a child out of snow during the season's first snowfall? Magic! That is what happens. The Snow child is based on a Russian fairy tale called Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden). Set in rural Alaska, this book is atmospheric, eerie, hopeful, with an underlying sadness. The writing is beautiful, moving and takes the reader deep into Alaska and into the home of Jack and Mabel, into their lives, the lives of their friends, through the snow and int ...more
Jan 16, 2012 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.

Nandakishore Varma
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
There is a special kind of emptiness in a marriage, when both the partners long for a child without success. Their private moments change from solitude to loneliness: intimate chatter degenerates into monosyllables before ultimately descending into dark silence. The carefree laughter of a child, the picture of a smiling cherubic face, or the pitter-patter of small feet on the road all become exquisite torture - reminders of some esoteric happiness forever out of reach.

I know... I have been there
The Snow Child is based on an ancient Russian fairy tale, and like any good fairy tale, it touches the edges between what is real and what is imagined. Eowyn Ivey commands the language in such a beautiful, moving way, that it would almost not matter if the story was not spectacular. But, never fear, she couples all that almost poetic language with a story that is moving and captivating and mysterious. This is the kind of magical realism I can buy into. It is like good slight of hand, you cannot ...more
Angela M
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Is she real or is this just a fairy tale ? It didn't matter - the writing is just so amazing ! I felt the brutal cold , saw the landscape , felt the deep pain of Mabel & Jack and loved Faina . This will stay with me for a long time .
“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-r
Dec 31, 2012 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 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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Sam O'Hara
Well, I do believe I was wise to wait on reading this one because of the subject matter, but it is beautiful. It is about grief, survival, marriage, magic, and community. I read it while I was in Alaska, which added a lot of atmosphere, thinking about the people who can stick it out and survive such a place, and about this snow child who can't be too far from the ice and snow. It's a marvel to read it in that setting. I think I read the last 300 pages without stopping, the morning after falling ...more
Brenda - Traveling Sister
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a sister read with Norma. We did the review together and posted it on her reviews.
If you are interested it can also be found on our blog as well

Feb 12, 2012 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
Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

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
Charlotte May
"It was beautiful, Mabel knew, but it was a beauty that ripped you open and scouted you clean so that you were left helpless and exposed, if you lived at all."

What a beautiful, harsh and wintry tale! An odd pick for me to read in June/July but I felt like I was right there in deepest Alaska, with the powerful landscapes and dark winters.

Mabel and Jack have never been able to have children, since they had a still born baby. Escaping their grief and the stares of those around them, they move to r
“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.”
Many Russian folk tales feature a common character known as Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden). She is the daughter of the immortal Gods: Father Frost and Mother Spring, and she usually goes to live with humans to care for an elderly couple who have no children. Some folk tales feature her as a girl unable to kno
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
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  • Diving Belles
  • Bitter Greens
  • The Flight of Gemma Hardy
  • Running the Rift
  • The Vanishing Act
  • In the Shadow of the Banyan
  • The Man Who Rained
  • The Cove
  • Gillespie and I
  • Six-Gun Snow White
  • May the Road Rise Up to Meet You
  • The Brides of Rollrock Island
  • The Healing
  • The Rathbones
  • Gossip from the Forest
  • The Orchardist
  • Mr. Fox
  • The Watch
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

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“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?” 181 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.” 151 likes
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