Eowyn Ivey’s debut novel certainly makes an impact and marks her as an author to keep an eye on. Set in Alaska, it focuses on an older couple who yearn for a child – and seem to get their wish in the form of Faina, a young girl who comes to them after they mould their own out of snow.
Ivey captures the picturesque setting perfectly in a way that few writers can, gently leading the reader into her own delicate world. The isolation of the landscape seems to reflect the story’s separation from mundane physical problems, instead looking further into the minds of the characters. However, ironically by working through their emotions, the characters end up more connected to the physical work of the landscape.
This is where the book’s pull really lays: in the characters themselves, so beautifully crafted. Ivey uses both subtle and more pointed means to illustrate the tensions between Jack and Mabel, bringing light to their individual motivations and personalities.
As the story goes on, the distinction between real and fairytale becomes necessarily blurred and Ivey seems to be purposeful in this aspect, never quite giving a distinct answer as to the origin of ‘the snow child’. It should be noted that the motion and flow of the story can sometimes feel a little slow, although it does seem to resonate with the stretching periods of time Ivey describes as Faina grows.
Although this book will not suit everyone in its soft, unassuming style, I found it a captivating read and feel it worthy of recommendation.