This first novel is set in a small village in rural Kent in 1944 where Annabel, with her husband Reggie away fighting, is coping alone with her son Daniel. The book opens with the arrival in the village of a contingent of German prisoners of war. This event leads to the distressing and exciting plot of the book.
I found this book enthralling from the beginning, not just for the plot, which does however move at a great rate. There is also the gradual revelation of Annabel’s character and of her relationship with German POW Hans, who is also not what he wants everyone to believe he is.
The structure of the book is interesting as it has alternate chapters told from Annabel’s point of view (in the third person) and from Daniel’s (in the first person). This gives two versions of events, but with the more personal one from a small child’s point of view.
The other interesting facet of the book is the use of fairy tales. Each chapter is prefaced by a quotation from one story related to the content of the chapter. Daniel has been brought up by his mother on a diet of fairy tales. So, as a lonely boy spending a lot of time on his own roaming the countryside, he interprets what he sees through his knowledge of these stories. This leads to the tragic ending of the book.
My one criticism of this book is that at times it does seem over dramatic and parts did seem, on reflection, to be unbelievable. There are, however, many other characters in the book that do bring it back to the everyday, such as the inhabitants of the village and Annabel’s and Reggie’s parents.
I enjoyed the book as an enthralling read, but it’s perhaps one that doesn’t stand close scrutiny.
Sue Glynn 4/4
The Boy Made of Snow by Chloe Mayer
W&N 9781474604819 pbk Oct 2018