Sunday 12 November 2017

The Boy Made of Snow by Chloe Mayer @ThatChloeMayer @wnbooks @JenKerslake

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.

The Boy Made of Snow by Chloe Mayer was published by W&N in hardback on 2 November 2017 and is the author's debut novel. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

2017 has been a spectacular year for debut novels, as I look back over the year, so many wonderful debuts stand out for me.  Chloe Mayer is certainly one to add to that list. The Boy Made of Snow is exquisitely imagined, beautifully written and I was completely enthralled by it.

This author has taken themes from traditional fairy stories and woven them into a tale set during World War II. Her characters are beautifully created, with so much depth, and realism.

Annabel and her nine-year-old son Daniel are living in a small English village during wartime. Annabel's husband; Daniel's father is away fighting and life is more than a struggle for her. It becomes clear that she has struggled since the day that Daniel arrived, and she is unable to show any love or affection for him. She can't even bring herself to call him by his name, and apart from the bedtime stories that she reads to him every night, their relationship is cold and empty.

Daniel loves his mother. Unconditionally. He cares for her, but he doesn't understand her. His nine-year-old brain tells him that his mother is not quite like others that he knows, yet his heart tells him to love her and cherish her. Daniel's head is filled with the fairy tales that his mother has taught him and whilst this is often his saviour, it becomes his downfall.

Hans is a German prisoner of war. Working on a nearby farm, chopping wood. Both Daniel and Annabel are excited by the prospect of Hans being close. Daniel sees a woodcutter from his stories, whilst Annabel discovers someone who doesn't judge her, who doesn't know her background and who makes her feel safe.

The Boy Made of Snow is haunting. It is chilling and poignant and at times, utterly heartbreaking. Daniel is a carefully crafted masterpiece, and his innocence shines through, even when his actions bring about the most tragic and horrendous consequences.

The setting and era is excellently reproduced, with Annabel's obvious mental health issues being hidden away as a source of shame, with no help offered and no understanding shown from those who are supposed to love her. Daniel's father makes a brief visit home from the front, and this chapter and the heart wrenching scenes so brilliantly composed will break the heart of the reader, slowly and quietly, but oh so painfully.

The Boy Made of Snow is an ambitious debut novel from an author who is obviously so very talented. I have no more words; it's brilliant and I recommended it highly. It's a marvel.

Chloe Mayer is a journalist whose work has been shortlisted for several awards, including newcomer of the year and reporter of the year.

She has lived and worked in Tokyo and Los Angeles, and now lives in East London, not far from where she grew up.

The Boy Made of Snow is her first novel.

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @ThatChloeMayer 


  1. I love the sound of this. I was initially drawn by the cover but just reading your review has sold it to me.

  2. Just thought I'd let you know I've had this bought me for Christmas after reading your review I knew I wanted to read it.