It is a fantasy in which snow angels, made by lying in the snow and moving your arms and legs in an arc, survive as creatures that protect you after the snow has melted. Sylvie meets her angel at the beginning of a long illness; again when she is in real danger; and when a wish comes true. This tale addresses children’s fears for themselves, but also their impulse to make others safe. Tender and reassuring, in the images and the text, it feels timely for 2020, but has the magic of such classic Christmas tales as The Snow Queen, The Snowman and It’s a Wonderful Life.
O’Farrell is a clever writer, who understands a child’s fears. "Have you ever woken suddenly, in the middle of the night, without knowing why?" the story begins – on a note that will resonate with readers of any age. There are also some lyrical passages, particularly in the descriptions of the angel with his "moon-like glow" and "strange blue-white" skin. But the young heroine’s near-death experiences left me a nervous wreck, and I’m not sure I’d recommend this book as bedtime reading. Least of all for an anxious parent.