Black Snow Falling

By LJ MacWhirter

Format: Hardback

This is a story about hope overcoming evil, written with satisfying moral complexity. Ruth's devastation breaks apart time. She sees that her hopes and dreams are a visceral halo of rainbow colours spinning to white... and that evil dream thieves are severing these halos from sleeping victims, many of whom she knows. 

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Scotland Street Press

The Press was set up to publish "ANT". After 8 years research on Chasing Lost Time, the Life of C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Soldier, Spy, Translator,( published by Chatto and Windus and Vintage here in the UK and by Farrar Straus and Giroux in the US), Jean Findlay, the author, was left with masses of material. The creative works of C. K. Scott Moncrieff had never been collected and here they all were waiting to go to press. Being naturally impatient, she decided, like the Little Red Hen, to do it herself. Hence the birth of Scotland Street Press. The Press will go on to publish literary fiction, memoir and travel in book form.

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This is a clearly told yet imaginative story with an epic sweep. Characters - even the smallest - are the opposite of cardboard cut-outs, but given as much psychological complexity as is congruent with such a fast-flowing story.

It starts out on quite a small scale, with two stories 50 years apart. In 1592, Ruth, a 14-year old daughter of absent earl, is about to married off against her will by a hated stepmother. Fifty years earlier, a candle-maker's son called Jude falls foul of Henry VIII and is lucky to escape with his life.

Before the main plot kicks into gear, the reader is left wondering how both of those strands could possibly be linked. Early on, the novel looks as though it is could be a story about the risks Ruth is running in defying convention by falling in love with a stable boy called Silas. Or maybe it's going to be about the clash between science and authority, as the cause of Jude nearly losing his head 50 years previously after daring ton suggest to Henry VIII that maybe the Earth really did orbit the Sun.

But no: instead, the story is about what the title says: Black Snow Falling. Because that's what the effect seems to be as when the shadowy dream thieves go to work. And it is only when one sees their ship anchored a mile in the sky that one begins to appreciate the novel's ambition. It isn't just going to be about one person touched by some sort of magic, or insight, or - in this case, soul-shrivelling loss of hope. That will be something that could apply to all of its characters, and indeed (because the dream-thieves' ship sails into different centuries) all of its readers too. Because the opposite of dream-stealing, then now, is defying convention and living with hope.

Fort a novel of such capacious imagination, Black Snow Falling also has a deep sense of history and its protagonists have a satisfyingly complex characterisation. It's rare to find all three at once in YA fiction, let alone fused together so effectively, and in all my time as The Scotsman's books editor (15 years and another 10 as deputy) I don't think I ever have. I recommend it highly.

David Robinson

Books Editor, The Scotsman 2000-15

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Hardback
Imprint Scotland Street Press
Publication Date 1 Aug 2018
ISBN 9781910895214
Number of Pages 240

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