For three quarters of its length The Snow Child is nearly a perfect read. The story of a girl made from snow unravels at a slow pace, necessary for the gradual unfolding that makes the novel so exquisite. Ivey skillfully interweaves the grace of the snow child with the textures of an untamed Alaskan wilderness. The story is most affective in its simple subtlety; through Ivey possesses a way with words, she lets the beauty of the story speak for itself. The story mirrors its subject. It is the sort of tale one wishes to get lost in, to dance in its mystery and to catch on one's tongue.
The last eighty pages or so of The Snow Child loses some of these qualities. It's jarring, largely unmagical, and cold, which could all potentially work if it felt like the coming of a blizzard, but it feels more like a mudslide. By no means is this part of the novel bad, it just loses so much of what made the rest of the book fabulous. I loved these characters and I felt like they really deserved a much better ending. There is so much that could have been done with such a lovely story that anything but the best is a letdown.
It is hard to drop this book from five stars because it is really good. Really good. It just didn't quite reach its full potential. When The Snow Child is at its best, however, it is really that good.