These Jim Henson Storyteller Witches books that Archaia is putting out are really remarkable. Kyla Vanderklugt’s, The Snow Witch,is a vaster contemplation of life and the human experience than stories ten times its length.
Young Monokichi, to be spared in his encounter with the storied Snow Witch, must make a deal. Though she has murdered his mentor, the woodcutter Mosaku, Monokichi must promise never to speak of meeting the Snow Witch. He bears this cross with dignity and, in time, grows to be a fine man. One winter’s day, he finds Oyuki, a beautiful traveler, seeking shelter from an impending blizzard. Gentle Monokichi offers her shelter and, snowbound, the two fall in love, eventually marrying, and then a child. And all the while, winter seems to overtake their village, longer and harsher, until summer disappears entirely, taking with it, Monokichi’s health. His son blames and decries the Snow Witch and Monokichi must break his promise in her honor.
And there’s the gist of it. But The Snow Witch leaves much to consider – a heaviness. Cruelty is bred of sadness, which is inevitable. And that, unfortunately, is fair.
Vanderklugt’s illustration work is nothing short of stunning, expressive, but true to the pastoral Japanese setting it celebrates. Rich and warm interiors offset all the snow and frigidity. And her handling of fabrics lends a particular charm to the pages on which it appears.
Beautifully presented and bearing some perfect truth, The Snow Witch will remain with you long after you’ve put it down.