I have always been a sucker for retellings of fairy tales and children's classics. So when my book club made this our February selection, I just knew it was something I would like. Even though I wasn't familiar with this particular Russian tale, The Snow Maiden, I wasn't at all let down. It's a beautiful and heartbreaking story that translated well to the frontier Alaskan setting.
This story takes place in Alaska in the early part of the 20th century. Most of the country is still wild and unpopulated. This is exactly what draws Mable and her husband Jack, much older than your typical settlers, to this unforviging land. They have suffered their share of heartbreak back east and decide it's time to start anew. But Alaska isn't what they expected and it seems their grief has followed them from Pennsylvania. All of that changes one cold night.
This story is definitely not for everyone. After all, what is a fairy tell, without some magic. And while magic definitely appeals to me, I know that there are some who shy away from anything magical, especially when the book in question has been compared to a love child between Willa Cather and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. That's not to say this book was all fantasy and magic, however. Much of the story centered on the harshness of life in Alaska, the pain of loss, and the fissures and cracks that can destroy a marriage. The magic itself was incorporated seamlessly, a natural inclusion that just felt right. For those who enjoy the novels of Sarah Addison Allen and Alice Hoffman, this book should hit just the right note.