Chapters 1 - 4.
Mabel and Jack are a childless older couple living in the Alaskan wilderness in 1920. They previously had one stillborn child. The moved out to Alaska a little under two years ago. The lifestyle has been hard on Mabel.
Jack meets George Benson in town who befriends him and offers to help with clearing the land. He tells him he should shoot a moose in order to have food for the winter, but it will be hard to find one now that Fall is over. They have dinner with George and his wife Esther and their boys, which lifts Mabel's spirits. Mabel and Jack build a snowgirl.
Chapters 5 - 13.
Jack notices their snowgirl is gone. Mabel catches a glimpse of the girl, but follows it only to find a fox. Jack sees the girl as well and she leads him to a moose before disappearing. He shoots it. One of George's boys hears the shots and offers to help him carve it up. Mabel asks Esther about the girl, but Esther says there's no one like that around.
Jack tries offering the girl food, but she's not interested. He then leaves her a doll, and she leaves them a basket of wild blueberries. Mabel writes to her sister, asking her to find a children's book she remembers about a couple who build a girl out of snow.
Jack tries to follow the girl, but stops when he comes upon a small door. Later, she shows up while he is working and he's able to invite her in. She has dinner with them.
She comes back occasionally, bringing them gifts like pelts and small game. One day, she leads Jack to the dead body of a man. She tells him he was her father. He died the same night they made the snowgirl. She asks him to promise not to tell anyone. He helps her to bury the body.
Chapters 14 - 20.
Mabel is happy and looks forward to the visits. The girl tells them her name is Faina. She has a fox that travels with her and keeps her safe.
Mabel receives the Russian children's book from her sister. Her sister has asked a man, Arthur Ransome, about the folktale. She tells her the story, but adds that it always ends badly. The snow girl melts, leaves or disappears at the end. In one of the endings, the girl leaves because the couple refuses to give up a hen for her fox. When Jack and Mabel need to slaughter their hens for food, Mabel insists they give one hen to the fox.
One day, Esther tells them about people who have gone a bit crazy out in the wilderness, with Esther ribbing Mabel about seeing visions of a girl. Mabel wants to prove to Esther she is real by showing her snow angels the girl made, but the snow covers them up. Mabel recalls an incident from her childhood when she believed she had caught a fairy. She showed her sister, but that turned out to be a songbird and by catching it in the box she had killed it.
Spring arrives, and the girl says goodbye. Jack goes to the little door he once saw to look for Faina. It's clear she lived in the shelter, but she is now nowhere to be found.
Chapters 21 - 25.
One day, Mabel finds Jack injured in the fields. Mabel tells George that they will be leaving as soon as Jack is well enough to travel. However, Esther shows up with Garret and supplies. She says they are going to help plant the fields.
They help out as Jack slowly heals. Esther leaves when they are done planting, but Garret stays through the summer. Garret is about to shoot a fox one day when Jack stops him, saying it was the girl's fox. Jack tells him the girl was real, but Garret is skeptical. At home, Mabel has sewed a coat for the girl for when she returns.
Chapters 26 - 29.
Jack doesn't think Faina will return, but she shows up on the night of the first snow of winter. Jack wants her to stay, but Mabel wants to let her be, believing that she is a snowgirl.
Jack finally breaks his promise and tells Mabel about the man he buried, and that Faina's mother died of consumption when she was a baby. Mabel is now convinced she is real and runs out to find her. She falls and they end up having to spend the night in the cold. They talk about their stillborn son.
Chapters 30 - 35.
Knowing she is real, Mabel wants her to stay with them and get her enrolled in school, but the girl resists. Eventually, Jack and Mabel seem to accept she is real but there is something different about her. Mabel finally tells Esther the full story, and Esther tells her she believes her. Jack takes Mabel and Faina ice skating.
Chapters 36 - 44.
It's now 1926, eight years have passed since they moved to Alaska. Each winter Faina shows up, and each spring Faina leaves.
Garret sees the red fox as he has many times but finally shoots it this time. Immediately, he feels bad about it. Jack and Mabel invite him over and let him know they are leaving the farm to him when they pass away. Garret comes across the girl for the first time. She is in the forest, captures a swan and guts it.
Soon, the Bensons show up as Faina is around. They realize she is real. Garret follows her one day, claiming he is tracking a wolverine. He admits he killed her fox. She offers him the dead carcass of the wolverine, which he refuses, and tells him not to come back. However, he gets lost in the snow, and she has to show him how to get back.
He goes to find her again, and she shows him a bear den. He brings a husky puppy to Mabel's house as a gift for Faina. She loves it. Garret starts helping to train the puppy.
Chapters 45 - 54.
Faina and Garret clearly have fallen for each other and Faina plans to stay for the summer. Jack follows Faina and Garret to see what they're up to and is disturbed enough by what he sees to punch Garret. Still, Garret returns later to help plow the fields.
Faina is not feeling well and Mabel tells her she is pregnant. There will be a wedding, Mabel and Jack decide. Mabel recalls the storybook and the image of the snow maiden getting married and then melting away in the sun. Jack decides to build them a cabin of their own.
They have the wedding, and the cabin is completed. Faina disappears often during the days. Faina has the baby, though she still seems to long for freedom. One night, she has a fever. Mabel and Jack go over to look after her. Faina wants to be in the cold, so Mabel goes with her and sleep outside.
When Mabel wakes up, she is covered in snow and Faina is gone, though her clothes are there. Garret goes to look for her.
15 years have passed since Mabel and Jack first met Faina. The baby is now Little Jack, and the husky is old. Garret still lives in the cabin. It is about the snow, and as they watch the snow start to fall, Little Jack jumps around with glee.
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See The Snow Child
Seems like a good winter read.. Lovely review
Hi Shalini, thank you! And thanks for reading!
Nice review ! This is on my TBR list but I might move it up a bit!(oh,can one drink something else than a cup of tea?😉)
Haha, maybe some mulled cider? Snow Child went by so fast, I can’t believe it took me this long to read it, so I’d definitely be an advocate of moving it up the list! Thanks for your thoughts and happy holidays!
I read it a few years ago. Thanks for the reminder — may read it again. I loved it.
Glad to hear from others who also loved the book! Happy reading and happy holidays!
Sounds like a perfect read for this time of year.
Yes, definitely! Thanks for dropping by! :)
I just finished it two days ago and thought it was amazing. I don’t cry when I read but that ending brought me to tears. Lovely and well put review.
Hi Bailey, thank you so much, and glad you loved it too! I can’t believe I put off reading this for so long!
Read this a few years ago and loved it
Yay, glad to hear other people loved this book too! Thanks for dropping by! :)
Yes, I read it, and I absolutely loved it. The real and magical mix with a depth of feeling that sweeps me away. I found it profoundly moving, and it’s stayed with me a very long time. I agree it’s a great read for wintery weather outside and a warm fire within.
I totally agree, this was such an easy book to get lost in and stay emotionally invested in. Glad you loved it too! :)
I read this ages ago and I honestly can barely remember what happens in it but I remember really liking it. I was already thinking of doing a reread but this has made me want to pick it up again even more!!
Haha, I definitely know that feeling. It’s like the Maya Angelou quote — “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” — happy reading! :)
I haven’t read this, but I think I want to. I love fairy tale retellings. This sounds lovely. I will be looking for it. Thanks for the review.
Oooo Rosi, I totally recommend this one if you like folktale-type books. It’s a really sweet and moving story. Hope you love it if you get a chance to read it! :)
I’ve had this on my shelf for years! I’ll definitely want to get to it soon after reading this!
Yeah, I’m mildly embarrassed about how long I let this book sit on my shelf without reading it! Hope you love it if you get the chance!
I picked up this book at random in the library last winter and absolutely loved it. It is definitely a winter read and the writing is powerful and expressive. Great review!
Thank you! And +1 for librarians who curate awesome books :)
Award committees seem to love this book, so that makes me want to read it. I’m glad you liked it. It definitely sounds unusual. Great review!
this book sounds magical!
I am so gonna read this!! I love stories like these and it’s already sitting on my TBR stack waiting to be read 😁
Yay, that’s awesome! Hope you love it, and look forward to seeing the review on your blog! :)
I love that cover. I have the blue one, which is nice too. And I loved this book too. Surprisingly, not many people talk about this. and now, there is a second novel coming out by the same author. Can’t wait to get my hands on that one. :) Great review.
Loved the review and the book. I prefer your cover to mine though. The author has another book coming out soon, I think. Must get my hands on that one.
Just finished this (after hearing about it on your blog!) and loved it! I took Latin American lit in college so I appreciate the comparisons to magic realism– I’m a realist when it comes to books so that helped me contextualize the story. Thanks for sharing!
I’m so happy to hear that, thank you for letting me know! And thanks for reading the blog! :)