The Snow Collectors

The Snow Collectors

Haunted by the loss of her parents and twin sister at sea, Henna cloisters herself in a Northeastern village where the snow never stops. When she discovers the body of a young woman at the edge of the forest, shes plunged into the mystery of a centuries-old letter regarding one of the most famous stories of Arctic explorationthe Franklin expedition, which disappeared into...

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Title:The Snow Collectors
Author:Tina May Hall
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Snow Collectors Reviews

  • Amalia Gavea

    A young woman lives in Alaska. Alone, her sole company a dog named Rembrandt. Henna tries to build her life in a wildly beautiful, inhospitable landscape and escape the shadow of a family long gone. But the winter hides its own secrets, Henna finds herself faced with a macabre discovery and a woman from the past invades her world in a haunting story that

    A young woman lives in Alaska. Alone, her sole company a dog named Rembrandt. Henna tries to build her life in a wildly beautiful, inhospitable landscape and escape the shadow of a family long gone. But the winter hides its own secrets, Henna finds herself faced with a macabre discovery and a woman from the past invades her world in a haunting story that demonstrates how the past and the present are tightly linked, how our lives are interconnected even when we least expect it.

    The story is told from Henna's POV and we are given only brief glimpses in the life of a woman of the 19th century whose presence permeates the novel. Although I enjoy the technique of the dual time narrative, it has become a trope commercialized and cheapened in the hands of weak writers. Here, Tina May Hall decided to focus on Henna, resulting in a strongly developed plot centered around a well-written, realistic heroine. The prose vividly depicts the symbolism of the wintry landscape. The quiet, the purity of a world covered in snow, the evil that lurks underneath. The small community and the fact that everyone knows everyone create a claustrophobic feeling and there are folklore and bookish references that had me trying to decipher whether there was something more, something that would prove crucial to the conclusion of the story.

    There are moments of serene beauty in this winter's tale and many extracts that lent a gothic aura to what I felt was a very realistic search for events long forgotten. There is a mysterious estate, strange bird cries, a rather suspicious housekeeper and a formidable matriarch. And the cold, the snow, the confusing thoughts, the awful feeling of being alone, not knowing whom to trust, not knowing what it is you are searching for. The dialogue is limited and the psychological repercussions of past loses become more evident as we plunge deeper into Henna's mind. This results in the creation of a rather dark atmosphere that is refined and vague like a strange dream that frightens us.

    This novel is a beautiful combination of Literary Thriller and a contemporary story of being able to overcome shadows, to trust others, to recognize the ties of the past and answer its questions. Perfect for a cold winter's night...

    Many thanks to Catherine Sinow, Dzanc Books and Tina May Hall for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    My reviews can also be found on

  • Kate

    I loved this book! Very atmospheric, and full of mystery.

    Henna lives a remote existence in an Alaskan village where it never stops snowing. Her only companion her Dog. She is still haunted by the loss of her family. One day she discovers the dead body of a young woman in the forest and decends into an ghostly investigation of how she died. I dont want to say too much here and spoil the mystery, but it was very engrossing.

    I loved Henna! She was a well developed and realistic heroine. The way

    I loved this book! Very atmospheric, and full of mystery.

    Henna lives a remote existence in an Alaskan village where it never stops snowing. Her only companion her Dog. She is still haunted by the loss of her family. One day she discovers the dead body of a young woman in the forest and decends into an ghostly investigation of how she died. I dont want to say too much here and spoil the mystery, but it was very engrossing.

    I loved Henna! She was a well developed and realistic heroine. The way the author interlinked past and present in the storyline was brilliant! This story has a very gothic feel to it, and the wintry landscape added so much feel to this story.

    Hall's prose were beautiful and poetic. I hadn't heard of this author before but will definitely be reading more of her after this book. What a gem!

    Thank You so much to the publisher for sending me this book opinions are my own.

    For more of my book content check out

  • Natalie Noland

    I cant remember the whole of the story, if it was a myth or what the book was or who did it, but I heard once somewhere that an aspiring author typed up the entirety of a great work, maybe it was The Great Gatsby, so he could know what it felt like to write a masterpiece. As soon as I started this book, I thought that if I ever put that into practice, it would be with The Snow Collectors. This book reads like art.

    I can’t remember the whole of the story, if it was a myth or what the book was or who did it, but I heard once somewhere that an aspiring author typed up the entirety of a great work, maybe it was The Great Gatsby, so he could know what it felt like to write a masterpiece. As soon as I started this book, I thought that if I ever put that into practice, it would be with The Snow Collectors. This book reads like art.

  • Sarah-Hope

    Sometimes I'm hesitant to call a book "original" or "unique" because I don't have that much familiarity with its genre. That's the case for me with The Snow Collectors, but I suspect the adjectives really do apply here. I requested an electronic review copy of this book because the description suggested it would be a mystery with ties to the Franklin Polar Expedition, and I'm an eager reader of historical mysteries with a side interest in polar exploration. The Snow Collectors is thatbut not in

    Sometimes I'm hesitant to call a book "original" or "unique" because I don't have that much familiarity with its genre. That's the case for me with The Snow Collectors, but I suspect the adjectives really do apply here. I requested an electronic review copy of this book because the description suggested it would be a mystery with ties to the Franklin Polar Expedition, and I'm an eager reader of historical mysteries with a side interest in polar exploration. The Snow Collectors is that—but not in the way I'd expected.

    To start with, I found the narrator unexpected: Henna has moved from living on the balmy coast to the far north after her parents and sister disappear in a boating accident. She works writing encyclopedia entries on water-related topics and is/was a dowser who, before her family tragedy, could not just sense water underground, but pull it to the surface.

    The book is presented in Henna's voice and she seems a bit unreliable as a narrator—not because she presents readers with falsehoods, but because there are moments when she perceives the world in ways that simply can't be true. For example, at one point, remembering her disappeared twin sister, she tell the reader that when she and her sister used to have competitions to see who could hold her breath longest, Claire always won because she could go without breathing for four and a half days. True? Can't be. And this isn't a fantasy novel in which such things might be possible.

    Henna finds a woman frozen to death, shoeless and coatless, clutching a small fragment of what turns out to be a letter written by Franklin's wife. What starts as an attempt to find the woman's identity leads to questions about the accuracy of the historical narrative of the Franklin Expedition. Strange events ensue, involving raptors and a museum of extinction, characters become more menacing, and the book moves from mystery to Gothic.

    I kept asking myself as I read whether I could continue with the book's narrator's voice and its awkward straddling of reality and the impossible. But I did finish the book. I just couldn't bring myself to put it down, partially because I wanted to see how its oddities would evolve.

    My final impression: this is a book that requires a certain amount of patience and flexibility from a reader, but it truly is engaging and offers the reader surprises on multiple level. I recommend checking it out.

    I received a free electronic ARC of this book for review purposes. The opinions are my own.

  • Rachel

    , the arresting debut by Tina May Hall, is a tremendously interesting yet very uneven book.  Hall fuses gothic horror, mystery, and historical fiction into a bizarre yet intriguing blend (made more bizarre by the fact that it's not a historical novel at all - it's set in the present-day, or maybe the near-future).  It's almost tongue-in-cheek at times in a way that weirdly reminded me of

    - the narrator comparing herself ironically to a gothic heroine - but the

    , the arresting debut by Tina May Hall, is a tremendously interesting yet very uneven book.  Hall fuses gothic horror, mystery, and historical fiction into a bizarre yet intriguing blend (made more bizarre by the fact that it's not a historical novel at all - it's set in the present-day, or maybe the near-future).  It's almost tongue-in-cheek at times in a way that weirdly reminded me of

    - the narrator comparing herself ironically to a gothic heroine - but the classic comparisons stop there as this is a much weirder book than a lazy

    or

    comparison would convey.  Anyway, when it works, it's brilliant, and when it falters, it does fall a bit flat.

    I think the strongest element here is the snowy New England atmosphere, which is paying a deliberate homage to the arctic backdrop of the Franklin Expedition of 1845.  The protagonist, Henna, finds the body of a dead girl in her woods, and in investigating the crime as an amateur sleuth, she traces it back to the Franklin Expedition and more notably to John Franklin's wife, the Lady Jane.  I did think these segments that focused on Jane were refreshing and interesting enough to mostly carry the novel.

    Where this book never fully worked for me was in the contemporary murder mystery; it felt like an after-thought to the point where suspects were never properly introduced; I found the resolution obvious in the sense that it was the only resolution that had ever really been set up at all.  The present-day characters and their motivations also remain hazy to a frustrating extent, though Henna herself is a fascinating character.  All said, I did want a bit more from this, but I do also recommend checking it out if it appeals.  3.5 stars.

  • Brittany (brittreads)

    I have never wanted to crawl inside a book so badly before. The writing is absolutely beautiful and Id love nothing more than to live in the wintery village Henna lives in and have the friends she has. The atmosphere is so captivating and the depth of the characters had me completely sucked in.

    The historical and scientific elements were a really interesting touch that made me feel like I was learning new things while also reading a work of fiction. Yes, some of it went over my head and sometimes

    I have never wanted to crawl inside a book so badly before. The writing is absolutely beautiful and I’d love nothing more than to live in the wintery village Henna lives in and have the friends she has. The atmosphere is so captivating and the depth of the characters had me completely sucked in.

    The historical and scientific elements were a really interesting touch that made me feel like I was learning new things while also reading a work of fiction. Yes, some of it went over my head and sometimes I had to take a second to be like “what is happening?” But that didn’t ruin the book for me at all.

    If you enjoy historical fiction, and a unique subject matter, you’re going to want to pick this one up. It’s beautiful, inside and (obviously, look at that cover!) out. The most perfect winter read you can get your hands on! This author has definitely been put on my radar.

  • Diane S ☔

    What Z strange, yet for me an oddly compelling novel. When her twin sister and her parents disappear into the sea, Henna takes her dog, Rembrandt and moves to Alaska. The snow and the cold, seem to fit her mood, the library a source of comfort. Until a young women's body is found, and Henna finds torn sheets of paper dating back to the Franklin expedition.

    In short chapters, vignettes, the story reveals one discovery after another. One never knows what is coming next, nor have a clue on where it

    What Z strange, yet for me an oddly compelling novel. When her twin sister and her parents disappear into the sea, Henna takes her dog, Rembrandt and moves to Alaska. The snow and the cold, seem to fit her mood, the library a source of comfort. Until a young women's body is found, and Henna finds torn sheets of paper dating back to the Franklin expedition.

    In short chapters, vignettes, the story reveals one discovery after another. One never knows what is coming next, nor have a clue on where it is going. The police chief seems enthralled by Henna, and seems concerned about her safety. The setting is in the near future, where we wonderful humans have caused many species to go extinct. A few other colorful characters feature prominently, as does the mystery of the past. How do the two connect? An old, many room house and snow itself are also features. The tone is gothic in places, a kind of Jane Eyre vibe.

    Interesting, beautifully written, one that definitely pulled in this reader.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

  • Nedra Hains

    Being a twin who has lost her other half, the descriptions of the bond between twins, even across death drew me in. It was a quick read. The plot twists and turns led my mind in the opposite direction of how I imagined it would end.

  • Debra

    Henna has moved to a Northeastern Village where the snow never stops after the deaths of her parents and twin sister. She lives alone with her dog, Rembrandt, and while out walking one day discovers the body of a young woman. Then she is thrown into a century old mystery involving a letter written about a century old expedition to the Arctic which disappeared on the ice in 1845.

    The age-old Gothic mystery involves Sir John Franklin's wife, Lady Jane and her quest to learn about what happened to

    Henna has moved to a Northeastern Village where the snow never stops after the deaths of her parents and twin sister. She lives alone with her dog, Rembrandt, and while out walking one day discovers the body of a young woman. Then she is thrown into a century old mystery involving a letter written about a century old expedition to the Arctic which disappeared on the ice in 1845.

    The age-old Gothic mystery involves Sir John Franklin's wife, Lady Jane and her quest to learn about what happened to her missing husband. (Some background - Sir John Franklin set out with two ships - the Erebus and the Terror).

    Henna's quest to learn the truth takes her to an old mansion full of strange rooms, underground passages, carrion birds, odd people and old dresses. This book feels both Gothic and contemporary.

    I will admit, it took me some time to get into it. I struggled initially with the storytelling and short passages. There is magical realism here and one does need to suspend some disbelief. This is a hard book for me to rate as there were many beautiful passages and sentences but there were also times where I just sat there thinking "huh" and "what the $#%$ am I reading?". I found it to be oddly compelling and kept reading to see what would happen.

    I'm still not sure what to think of it, but again found it compelling. I didn't really care for anyone in the book and yet was drawn in by their eccentricities. Henna is odd herself and feels somewhat unreliable as she tells stories of holding her breath for way too long and the things she reports seeing and experiencing can't be real (or can they?).

    Thank you to Catherine Sinow and Dzanc Books who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

  • Laura

    This is a weird and refreshing little book that doesnt follow the normal rules of this kind of fiction. It starts off in a relatively familiar space; our protagonist has a very literary name (Henna) and is doing a very literary job (writing encyclopaedia entries for a publisher on water and ice) after her parents and twin sister Claire died in a very literary way (being lost at sea). The first chapter made me think that The Snow Collectors would be full of the kind of drifty, quasi-magical prose

    This is a weird and refreshing little book that doesn’t follow the normal rules of this kind of fiction. It starts off in a relatively familiar space; our protagonist has a very literary name (Henna) and is doing a very literary job (writing encyclopaedia entries for a publisher on water and ice) after her parents and twin sister Claire died in a very literary way (being lost at sea). The first chapter made me think that The Snow Collectors would be full of the kind of drifty, quasi-magical prose that you find in writers like Alice Hoffman. However, this book, and Hall’s writing, actually sits in a more interesting space. While there are sentences that stray into sentimentality – ‘his palm was dry and warm, speckled with grains of salt which rolled between our joined hands like secrets we hadn’t told yet’ – there are other, much more robust, passages that are more typical of the novel: ‘Attached to the gas station near the interstate was a Dunkin’ Donuts, and I sat at the counter and sipped coffee with skim milk… By the counter of the gas station was a display of souvenirs. Apples dangling from key chains and packets of pancake mix, resin moose and dead skyscrapers in globes of water… Everything smelled the chemical scent of strawberry air freshener. The clerk wished a nice day on everyone, as if it were a curse.’

    The Snow Collectors is also weird because it doesn’t seem to be set in either our present or the future. There’s a fantastical air to the world that Hall has created – Claire used to be able to hold her breath for four days – but there’s also a SF hint to the near-future Alaskan setting, where bees are gone and the rest of the US never sees snow. It also shoots off in some unexpected directions. The death of Claire, and of Henna’s parents, barely impinges on the plot, except to give Henna a plausible reason to be so isolated. Instead, the book revolves around a dead girl found in the woods and an archive concerning the lost John Franklin Arctic expedition that is held in the town. In between Henna’s chapters, we get short but captivating glimpses of Jane Franklin, who kept up the search for her husband long after everyone else had given up hope. Ultimately, this felt a little incomplete to me, as if it hadn’t quite been imagined fully enough, but there’s enough promise here that I’d definitely be interested in reading whatever Hall writes next. 3.5 stars.

    I received a free proof copy of this novel from the publisher for review.

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