Book: The Snow Spider
Author: Jenny Nimmo
Publisher: Egmont UK
Format Read: Paperback
“The Snow Spider” is a children’s book, and a fascinating one at that, weaving elements of Welsh folklore and myth into a fantasy story with a boy and a little silvery spider.
For his birthday, Gwyn’s grandmother gifts him five odd objects – a brooch, dried seaweed, a whistle, a scarf, a broken toy horse – and tells him they are magical. These mysterious items, she tells him, will turn him into a magician. Gwyn doesn’t know what to believe, especially since his grandmother, for all her affection, is a bit eccentric. Perhaps he could use these gifts to bring his missing sister back home.
Without giving too much away, using one of the objects causes a glittery little spider called Arianwen to appear, a magical creature that weaves dreams and visions in her sparkly web. Gwyn is a lonely, but affectionate boy, and the spider quickly becomes a strange and wonderful friend. His friend Alun is a sceptic, a character who does not believe in magic. As for Gwyn’s father…well. He is distant and cold to the boy, especially since his daughter, and Gwyn’s sister, went missing years ago.
For a slim book, “The Snow Spider” handles its cast of characters quite well. I found myself liking Gwyn’s eccentric grandmother, especially because she is the only character who sees Gwyn for who he is. And of course, the tiny spider Arianwen. She is, by far, my favourite character in the book.
Many of the names in “The Snow Spider” are taken from Welsh legend, and notes at the back of the book, including an author interview, are really helpful if you aren’t familiar with it. There’s the magician Gwydion, for example, in Welsh lore. While these elements are very well woven into the story, you may want to refer to a translation of the Mabinogion for a better idea.
The story ends rather quickly, in my opinion (probably to be picked up in the next book of the series) but “The Snow Spider” did keep my interest until the end. It has that dash of magic and mystery I enjoy very much, and besides, the writing style is lucid.
I’m really glad to have “The Snow Spider” on my shelves.