The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Thrilling story in a brutal Alaskan wilderness.
I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
Eowyn Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. She worked for nearly ten years as a reporter for the Frontiersman newspaper, where she won several rewards. She is now an independent bookseller in Alaska. This is her first novel.
This overwhelming, stunning, and glorious story is set in nineteen-twenty Alaska. It is a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. They are childless and about to drift apart. The story begins: “Mabel had known there would be silence. That was the point, after all. No infants cooing or wailing. No neighbor children playfully hollering down the lane. No pad of small feet on wooden staired worn smooth by generations, or clackety-clack of toys along the kitchen floor. All those sounds of her failure and regret would be left behind, and in their place would be silence” (3)
A short time later, “Afternoon descended into dusk, and Mabel left the window to light an oil lamp on the table as if she going to prepare dinner and wait for Jack’s return, as if this would day end like any other, but in her mind she was already following the trail through the woods to the Wolverine River. The lamp burned as she laced her leather boots, put her winter coat on over her housedress, and stepped outside. Her hands and head were bare to the wind” (6). //
Mabel left the cabin and waked through the woods to the river. “She emerged from the forest and stood on the bank of the frozen river. “the glacier-fed valley stretched half a mile wide with gravel bars, driftwood, and braided shallow channels, but here the river ran narrow and deep. Mabel could see the shall cliff on the far side that fell off into black ice.
Below, the water would be well over her head” (6). [ ] ‘When she reached the river’s main channel, where water still coursed down the valley, the ice was no longer brittle and white but instead black and pliant, as if it had only solidified the night before. She slid her boot soles onto the surface and nearly laughed at her own absurdity—to be careful not to slip even as she prayed to fall through” (7).
But this is a long novel and well worth the chilling story of Jack and Mabel. The have much to learn. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a story bound to chill you in and out. 10 Stars.
Likely Stories is a production of KWBU. I’m Jim McKeown. Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!