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.
Snow Song was a step back in time, almost to a Victorian fairytale as we entered the world of Edith and the small isolated village at the base of mountains where she lived. A world ruled by the Elders, a group of men who used myth and superstition to scare and manipulate the small enclave to their ways and their rules.
Gardners evil villain was the Butcher, a huge overbearing, crude and pompous man who lorded over not only his family, but the Elders and villagers. His betrothal to Edith became his obsession and, you hoped, his downfall. I loved that Gardner took him to the extreme, his cruelty and mindset shocking, but it served a purpose, as he became the moral of the story.
If the Butcher was our villain, then our heroine was Edith and what a beautiful character Gardner created. She had a mystical, ethereal feel about here, almost as if she floated on air with an aura that surrounded her, that acted as a magnet to those in the village. Edith’s love for the shepherd, Demitrious was all encompassing, until he failed to return, her voice muted and a life trapped by marriage to the butcher beckoned.
It was the skill at which Gardner used her muteness that impressed, the women who slowly opened up to Edith, expressed their fears, their opinions, safe in the knowledge that it wouldn’t be repeated. It was a catalyst that initiated change, little acts of rebellion that gathered pace, that forced men to take notice of the women, of their own actions and consequences.
It wasn’t just the characters that impressed as Gardner used the landscape and of course the snow, to great effect. The dark forest, the bleakness and danger of the isolated mountains and the snow, that brought sorrow and isolation. There were the old tales and superstitions that were both a comfort and a warning, beautifully interwoven into a narrative that lifted the novel out of the ordinary.
We also had the suppression of women, their isolation, their need to conform to a male dominated community who had very clear ideas as to their role, their voices drowned out. It was wonderfully interlaced within the narrative of the story, never overpowered but gently provoked the reader into thought. Gardner didn’t thrust them into sudden realisation but rather like a flower that slowly opens in the spring summer time, they opened their minds and found their voices.
Snow Song was made up of a myriad of layers yet at its heart it was simply beautiful story telling that captivated me as a reader and I loved it.
I would like to thank HQ for a copy of Snow Song to read and review and for inviting My bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Sally Gardner grew up and still lives in London. Being dyslexic, she did not learn to read or write until she was fourteen and had been thrown out of several schools, labeled unteachable, and sent to a school for maladjusted children. Despite this, she gained a degree with highest honors at a leading London art college, followed by a scholarship to a theater school, and then went on to become a very successful costume designer, working on some notable productions.
After the births of twin daughters and a son, she started first to illustrate and then to write picture books and chapter books, usually with fairytale- or otherwise magical subject matter. She has been called ‘an idiosyncratic genius’ by London’s Sunday Time