I seem to have stumbled onto two feminist reads in a row, it wasn’t intentional but I am enjoying it.
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.
There’s nothing like a snow-filled tale to make me hopeful for a white winter, even though we’re not close to that stage yet I do enjoy reading a book like this as the days get colder and darker, it fits the season perfectly.
I really enjoyed the setting in The Snow Song, the remote snowy village next to a mountain is a wonderful ambience for this kind of fable like story, with some hints of fairytale and magic it really helps to keep you entranced. There is a part of the book that, when I came across it, made me really think about how each reader would experience this a little differently…
Could one snowflake tell the whole story of snow when each was individually made round a grain of dust? The same was true, she thought, of her grandmother’s stories. She’d told them round grains of truth and each became something different. If Edith was to write them down, all the snowflakes would be the same.
I feel like the fact that we go into this book without really knowing where it is or when it is means that we can create that part of the magic for ourselves even though the narrative remains the same.
This story is centred around the empowerment of women and how one little change can give others the courage to speak up and not conform to what has been prescribed for them. It highlights the ways traditions and religious beliefs can be skewed to oppress people and make them unquestioning.
Of course, the majority of the men in this story are the type that provoke instant anger, the ones that want to keep the women in their place and the ones that are too scared to do anything differently even if they do agree. I did like that, for the most part, they didn’t have names and were referred to by their profession: the butcher, the mayor, the priest; this did kind of add to their dehumanisation, luckily there were also some redeeming male characters who sought to change things even if they started in small ways.
Edith, the story’s main protagonist and the catalyst for the changes in the village, was an interesting character. She started off as an open-minded and hopeful character and then as the story progressed she became resilient with a quiet kind of defiance. I liked what happened with the romance between her and Demetrius, it’s hard to say much without giving away some of the story, but it was refreshing that it was a great love that found acceptance in its circumstances and I admired how Edith handled it.
There were, of course, a fair few female characters that change dramatically throughout the course of the story and end up creating a supportive community for the rest. I think though that the character who stood out the most other than Edith was Misha, I loved that he was someone who didn’t believe in himself at all and developed into this strong and resourceful character. The fact that he went against the butcher’s wishes and tried to help certain characters, even though that would have been dangerous, opened up a little space in my heart for him.
I only have one little thing about the book that I wasn’t keen on, the bloodless, there isn’t really all that much said about them in context to the story but they are referenced. The few times they are mentioned it is not, in my opinion, in any way that adds something to the story, perhaps it was to be a subtle indicator for something that I have completely missed the point of. I felt the threat of them was superfluous so it either should have been cut from the story or made a bit clearer why they were being used.
The Snow Song is an atmospheric, enchanting and empowering story full of heartbreak and wonder and perfect for winter reading.