Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart – he struggling to maintain the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young girl running.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel come to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they begin to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent territory things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform them all.
MY THOUGHTS: What to say about this book? I haven't a clue. Eowyn Ivey's writing is stunning; nobody writes as beautifully as she does. There were times whilst reading this book where I could almost see the breathtaking Alaskan landscape in front of me, with Faina and her fox poking out from behind snow-covered tree. I'll tell you right now, that this read will make you want to live in Alaska, and there is no doubt about it.
As you can problem see, I'm struggling to express how brilliant this book was. The only way you will ever understand is if you pick it up and you read it. It is a strange book, there's no doubt about it: simultaneously heart-melting yet brutally realistic, heartbreaking but also accompanied with a few chuckles and a story you'll want to hold on to forever. I don't know how often I've said that I love haunting fairytales, but I do, and this is one of my favourites. It will be going straight on the favourites shelf, cushioned between The Night Circus and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
"She could not fathom the hexagonal miracle of snowflakes formed from clouds, crystallized fern and feather that tumble down to light on a coat sleeve, white stars melting even as they strike. How did such force and beauty come to be in something so small and fleeting and unknowable? You did not have to understand miracles to believe in them, and in fact Mabel had come to suspect the opposite. To believe, perhaps you had to cease looking for explanations and instead hold the little thing in your hands as long as you were able before it slipped like water between your fingers."