The Snow Child by debut novelist Eowyn Ivey (a bookseller in Alaska) is a fresh and exquisite adaptation of the snow maiden folk tale in which a child is brought to life from a figure made of snow. This version is set against the cinematic backdrop of 1920s Alaskan territory and follows Jack and Mabel as they build a homestead in the untamed wilderness. Mabel has a romantic vision of them working side by side to carve out their farm, but no longer in their prime and unprepared for the marked difference from the farm Jack grew up on, they are barely able to eke out an existence. They grow apart as Jack spends long days tilling the fields while Mabel stays cooped up in their cabin. Winter approaches, and they have no stockpile of food, presenting a real danger that they may not survive.
Nature in this tale is cruel and awe-inspiring; however, it also brings unexpected moments of joy. When the first snow of the season falls, it momentarily washes away Jack and Mabel's cares. They play together, throwing snowballs and building a lifelike little girl out of snow. The next morning the snow child has disappeared and in its stead is a skittish, feral girl named Faina who has a fox for a companion. When the neighbors hear tell of her, they chalk it up to cabin fever; Mabel is reminded of the folk tale; Jack has another theory altogether. Faina becomes like a daughter to the couple, albeit one who thrives in the same wilderness that is so at odds with them. She forever changes the lives of those she comes in contact with--almost like magic. --Melissa Solberg, sales director, Shelf Awareness