Book: “Snow City” by G.A. Kathryns
Publishing Info: Sycamore Sky Books, February 2017
Where Did I Get this Book: from the publisher!
Book Description: Her name is Echo Japonica, and she lives in Snow City. But she was not always Echo, and she did not always live in Snow City. Somewhere else, she was someone else, and it was to Snow City that she fled in order to escape a place and a self that had at last become intolerable.
For Snow City is a dream — Echo’s dream — of a better place, an idealized place, a place of both anonymity and fulfillment. It is, for Echo, a haven of peace, a refuge, a sanctuary.
But Snow City remains, nonetheless, a dream, and dreams, being such fragile things, can so easily shade into nightmare…
Review: I hadn’t heard of this book until I was contacted by the publisher about reviewing it here on the blog. But given the general whimsy of the description, especially the focus on dreams, it sounded like a read that I’d quite enjoy! And, for the most part, I did!
Echo Japonica is enjoying her life. It’s quiet, peaceful, full of music as she play she guitar five days a week at a local coffee shop. She lives in Snow City, a place of her own imaginings, and one free of the violence and conflict that plagued the world she escaped from. Her memories only travel back the few months that she has been living in this conflict-free environment. Things change, however, when she runs into Charity, and discovers that she is a ghost, and now is lost and alone in the seeming utopia that is Snow City. After taking the young girl in, Echo begins to see changes in her peaceful city, a darkness seeping up and threatening to overtake the life she’s been building for herself and now Charity.
I was very intrigued by entire concept of this story. Echo has created her own world, and thus everything in it is a direct response to what she struggled with in “reality.” But even if it is her own created world, the story takes quite the turn when she is forced to realize that even here she cannot control the actions of others nor should she take responsibility for their own choices. Echo’s journey is not only one of self-acceptance, coming to grips with her own influence, or that thereof, on others, but also on creating healthy relationships and boundaries with those around her. Those who may seem to easily fit on one box may surprise you. And those you care about may do things that you wouldn’t necessarily do yourself, potentially to their own detriment. I also enjoyed the relationship that was built up between Echo and Charity. It was a sweet mother/daughter bond that highlights the unique strengths of chosen families.
I was, however, a bit put off my the style of writing. For one thing, while I appreciate lyrical and poetic writing in some instances, books that are focused too much on the philosophical aspects of life, are never really my cup of tea. Further, Echo’s way of speaking was pretty off-putting. She is written to speak in a manner similar to characters set in a Jane Austen novel. And, while I love me a good Jane Austen novel and this manner of writing in that context, I found the juxtaposition very distracting in this book. I could never quite pin down a good answer for why they were speaking this way, especially when it seems that her prior life was lived in the modern time. Frankly, it felt a little gimicky to me, and I feel like I would have enjoyed the book more had it been written using modern language.
I also had mixed feelings about the exploration of music in this book. This is completely and utterly a personal preference, however. Again, this simply isn’t my favorite topic to read about in a fantasy novel, but I completely understand that this may be much more appealing to other readers who find this aspects more appealing.
In the end, however, I still enjoyed this book for the most part. It had a strong through-line of redemption, survival, and hope. aEspecially for readers looking for books that range further on the “speculative” side of fantasy fiction, I think “Snow City” has a lot to offer and is well worth checking out!
Rating 6: A solid and unique concept that is used as a support frame to explore bigger topics such as family and self-acceptance. The style of writing, however, wasn’t for me.
“Snow City” is a lesser know title, so isn’t on any Goodreads lists. But it should be on “Music in Fantasy Fiction.”