Based on the Russian story, The Snow Maiden, Ivey’s debut novel maintains a fairytale style. Set in rural 1920’s Alaska, childless homesteaders, Jack and Mabel, are grieving the loss of an unborn child and, while Jack is crumbling under the weight of the work he must do in the harsh Alaskan wilderness if they are to survive, Mabel is in depths of depression and contemplating suicide. Then, one evening, in a rare moment of levity, the two go out into the first snow and build a snowgirl only to find it destroyed the next morning. Suddenly, a little blond-haired girl appears in the wilderness wearing the mittens and scarf from the snowgirl.
This little girl, Faina, hunts with a red fox at her side, treads so lightly across the snow that she doesn’t leave footprints, yet somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. Is she real? Is she imaginary? Jack and Mabel struggle to understand Faina, but they come to love her as their own daughter. Neighbors worry for Mabel because nobody else has ever seen this magical girl. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
Enchanting from beginning to end.
Reviewed by Kim White, Head of Hoyt Library
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