I freely admit that I derive a lot of enjoyment from pretty things and as much as a lot of people would say it’s a sign that I am shallow like unto a puddle, I think otherwise. As a result I feel like saying “The Snow Child is a pretty book inside and out” makes it sound a bit insipid – like saying it’s nice – but, really, it’s a lovely thing, and I wish it had been published over Christmas as I can’t think of a more ideal gift for someone.
I am going to overuse the word “pretty” now. Just a warning.
Firstly: check out this cover, it is a very pretty bit of work. I love that it doesn’t have a dust jacket as those things just get ripped and annoy the ever-loving heckfire out of me.
Rather brilliantly there’s a book mentioned inside the book that’s described as being a similar blue with snowflake patterns, so I love that this book refers to itself, it’s a bit of a Russian doll effect. A book within a book within a book. It’s subtle but I loved it and it added to the pretty, dreamlike feeling that Eowyn Ivey crafts through the book.
And that’s the main, overall, lingering feel of it – pretty, dreamlike, ever so slightly unreal and old worldy (possibly due to the 1920s setting). I really enjoyed the reading of it and felt sad in the sad parts and overjoyed in the joyous parts and it worked, so well. It went from feeling frigid and remote and cold like the Alaskan wilderness it tells us about to heart-warming and cosy like a hot chocolate in a cold snap. That’s the most accurate two-word term to use to describe it, too: heart-warming. Because all the cold, frozen wilderness that Ivey so brilliantly describes and colours in with the most insane, lively, often harsh details is riddled with rich seams of love and friendship and the deep, curious mystery of it all. The writing is great, it really is, but I also love that it’s Ivey writing about her homeland and there’s this closeness and familiarity about her descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness that felt so strong and clear it was so weird to look up partway through and realize that I was sitting in the staff room at work in London where it doesn’t snow.
It’s basically a fairytale short worked into a novel form, and it is an entirely successful re-imagining of a wonderful little story which my edition includes at the end – linking back to the book I mentioned before, again the book nesting within the book. It’s as much a fairytale as the story it’s based on, and it was so sweetly and prettily put together. I’ll leave it up to you what you make of the eponymous Snow Child, but I loved that it was as if she was of two worlds, straddling reality and fantasy, and the ending was absolutely perfect and I did have a damp eye moment, I cannot tell a lie.
I really can’t say more than omfg it was so pretty I want to read it again for the first time. Highly recommended, ESPECIALLY for people who like fairytales and folk tales and Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen or just pretty stories that leave you feeling like you’ve just had a mega cup of tea by a roaring fire on a cold night. You know what I mean, that cozy burn of contentment deep within. It’s the book equivalent of that. Perfect antidote for the bleak chills of winter.*
The book’s out on the 2nd February and I cannae wait to talk to everyone in our shop about it. It’s supposed to be “fiction” a.k.a., literary, but I encourage genre fans to take a look because it’s that good a read.
*I giggled while typing this because it’s like zero degrees celsius outside and omg it’s so BLEAK and CHILLY and ALASKAN! Aww hell that wasn’t even my most dramatic response to the weather today.