The Snow Merchant – Sam Gayton

“Lettie Peppercorn lives in a house on stilts near the wind-swept coast of Albion, with no one to talk to but Periwinkle the pigeon. Her days are filled with floor-sweeping, bed-making and soup-stirring. Her nights are filled with dreams of her mother, who vanished long ago. Nothing incredible has ever happened to Lettie, until one winter’s night… The night the Snow Merchant comes. He claims to be an alchemist – the greatest that ever lived – and in a mahogany suitcase, he carries his newest invention. It is an invention that will change Lettie’s life – and the world – forever. It is an invention called snow.”

If I had to describe this book in two words, they would be – simply magical. As soon as I started it, I couldn’t put it down. I’ve always had a soft spot for children’s books (see my review of Liesl and Po) but this one was utterly perfect. Many authors who give their book a supernatural or magical twist end up over-egging or complicating the plot, but The Snow Merchant was simple yet intriguing, clever but not confusing.

We follow the story of Lettie Peppercorn in her quest to find her mother, who she has been separated from for many years. She meets a raft of characters – Noah, who can grow plants on his shoulder, the Walrus and the Goggler, two vile and greedy women, and most importantly, the Snow Merchant – Blüstav. He walks into Lettie’s inn one day to reveal his magic creation – snow, the likes of which the world has never seen before – and piques her curiosity when he lets a mention of her mother, Teresa, slip. Lettie finds out that her mother used to be Blüstav’s apprentice – and that the snow he is toting around town was actually Teresa’s conception. He’s also the one who has been keeping them apart…

As little Lettie Peppercorn’s quest to be reunited with her beloved mother gets more challenging, she needs her new friend Noah, some quick thinking and her natural talents to get out of some sticky situations.

A complex yet easy to follow story, The Snow Merchant is interspersed with stunning illustrations, beautiful fonts and chapter headings. A gorgeously written and produced novel, this lovely tale by Sam Gayton can do no wrong in my eyes.

Many thanks to Andersen Press for the review copy.

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