Chloe Mayer’s debut, The Boy Made of Snow is a stunner. One not to be missed!
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: W&N; 01 edition (2 Nov. 2017)
In a sleepy English village in 1944, Annabel and her son Daniel live in the shadow of war. With her husband away, an increasingly isolated Annabel begins to lose her grip on reality.
When mother and son befriend Hans, a German PoW consigned to a nearby farm, their lives are suddenly filled with thrilling secrets.
To Annabel, Hans is an awakening from the darkness that has engulfed her since Daniel’s birth. To her son, a solitary boy caught up in the magical world of fairy tales, he is perhaps a prince in disguise. But Hans has plans of his own and will soon set them into motion with devastating consequences.
Even though Annabel is keeping up outer appearances, inside (both inside the home and her mental health) is a different matter entirely. 9 year old Daniel fends for himself, trying to make the best of the rations with no set mealtimes as well as keeping himself occupied. Having been brought up on fairy tales by Annabel, everything he experiences in life is through that lens. With his dad Reggie absent, fighting the war, whenever he is need of advice or to understand something he relies on fairy tale themes (which have dire consequences for more than one character in the story). He’s not learned about reality and the world around him from role models but from heroes who slay monsters and sacrifice to show their love. His one motivation is to rescue Annabel so that she will love him.
When Hans comes into their lives, he is a secret for both of them. Annabel doesn’t know Daniel befriends him, in fact, she doesn’t know anything about Daniel’s life at all. She is so caught up in her pit of despair and loneliness. Being a mother is nothing like she thought it would be (although I would argue she had mental health issues and found the world difficult to cope with before becoming a mother). Hans brings something more than an awakening when he steps into their lives …
I knew something wasn’t quite right but didn’t guess a key fact. Did it change how I felt? Yes. It gave the whole experience a different layer. Not so much as shining a light but giving us more differing shades of grey.
This is a dark read. It felt heavy and saturnine and a couple of scenes are not for the faint-hearted. My heart ached for Daniel. Not accepted at school by his peers, invisible at home. When Reggie gets 24 hours leave it must have been very scary for a child of 9 to experience that. Yet he is resourceful and determined. Which are strengths he needs later on in the story.
The Boy Made of Snow is a stunning debut from Chloe Mayer. Family and isolation, despair and hope, fear and love. The story will stay with me for a long time.
If you enjoy the original (darker) fairy tales you will love this too.
The Boy Made of Snow is available to purchase in Kindle and Hardcover format with the paperback publishing in October 2018.
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