Sunday, 22 November 2020

The Snow Song by Sally Gardner

The Snow Song by Sally Gardner
Published in the UK by HQ on the 12th November 2020.

More Than One challenge read.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Women imprisoned by superstition, chained by guilt.
Perched on a mountain in a land of ancient forests is a village, rife with secrets. Cut off from the outside world it is run by the elders, men to whom tradition is all.

Edith lives alone with her alcoholic father who is forcing her to marry the village butcher. But she is in love with a shepherd who promised to return to her.

As the village becomes isolated in a sea of snow, Edith loses her power of speech. And it is this enchantment that will have far-reaching consequences, not only for Edith but for the whole village.

The Snow Song is a beautifully wintry story which would be perfect, I think, for readers who also enjoyed books like Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I noticed, in the isolated village location and feminist fairytale style, parallels with Wondrous Journeys In Strange Lands by Sonia Nimr which I will be reviewing next month.

I loved Gardner's portrayal of this entrenched community and the stunning mountain location surrounding them. The Snow Song is a fairytale so characters do fall into stereotypical roles, but there is also a greater emotional depth and complexity than I had expected to each of them. Gardner deftly captures the people's fear and shows how easily this is used to manipulate them. She also understands how people, particularly certain of the women here, use and enforce repressive traditions to protect their own social standings. They would rather see themselves at the top of the second class echelon than fight for true equality and risk being only one among many.

Edith's daily life is constrained by her village's traditions - a series of edicts designed by the male elders in order to keep 'their' women within the village and to ensure all strangers stay away. When Edith flouts these rules by chatting to an itinerant shepherd, she sets in course a battle of wills that results in her not only being figuratively silenced, but literally so. Edith's narrative is very much a coming of age story as she matures from idealistic lovestruck girl to self-determined woman. She isn't actually a princess, but this story is firmly in the 'princess saves herself' genre and is a fine example! I highly recommend The Snow Song to young adult and adult fairytale readers.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Sally Gardner / Fairytales / Books from England

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