Snowfall’s Secret. Natalie Silk. Solstice Press, August 23, 2017, Trade Paperback and E-book,
Reviewed by Marssie Mencotti.
Snowfall’s Secret by Natalie Silk is a young adult science fiction novel about a young girl from another planet who arrives on Earth with a past that she can’t remember. Snippets of memory rise to her consciousness every now and then, and readers will find themselves rooting for her to put the pieces together to find the sense of home and family that she craves. Natalie Silk dreamt of her protagonist Dahliea when she was just a young girl. Years passed, as did multiple story drafts, as she persisted with her quest. She had to get Dahliea into print.
Snowfall’s Secret is an introduction to a larger story that promises to unfold in subsequent books. This is Ms. Silk’s third book and the second book in the Dahliea series. It is a wonderful read.
The story begins in late summer at Mike and Jennifer’s summer rental, a few days before they are to return to the city for the start of school. We travel with Jamie through the school year until we arrive at the snowfall that begins the dramatic action of the story’s arc. This long introductory style of exposition seems appropriate as the reader is drawn into the heroine’s plight and is fully
vested in her success by the time the action heats up. The title, Snowfall’s Secret, only becomes meaningful later when a ski trip is announced. I found myself waiting for a snowfall on either planet to reveal the secret.
The reader bonds with Dahliea/Jamie right from the start because she is so eager to adapt. Her confusion over where and why she is in this alien place at this particular time are tempered by her innate kindness and trust. She instinctively knows that she must fit into the family that found her. Her thoughtfulness towards their younger child is particularly endearing. This young heroine is
smart, naturally curious, and brave. Within those epic attributes, Ms. Silk keeps her as natural as possible.
The overall story in Snowfall’s Secret glows with honesty. There are few dramatic tropes to stop the forward progress of the story. Instead, a refreshingly real child/princess who is an intelligent young woman cautiously assimilates with new friends and a new family. She is allowed to behave as wisely and foolishly as any young girl does. Her decisions about what to wear and who to befriend are so clearly portrayed that the reader is reminded of their own angst trying to pick the “right” outfit and crowd. Ms. Silk gives us all of the youthful fluctuations between excitement and boredom, absolute judgment and fairness, and cluelessness and instinctual savvy, leading us to believe that the planet from which Dahliea comes is not so different from Earth and that the story will be relatable on a social and scientific level.
The author’s skills are apparent as we find out about Dahliea in the gentlest of ways. Ms. Silk unfolds her story like a beautiful flower, petal by petal. We find that there are powerful forces protecting and nurturing Dahliea as she transitions to Earth girl. For her welfare she is renamed Jamie. Nearly every week during this “enforced witness protection program,” she is asked to
complete more difficult tasks, necessitating that she always balance her two realities. We learn about her status, language, and family in flashbacks and with the addition of supporting friends and enemies.
The author gives Dahliea advantages. She has skills that are far more advanced than those explored and understood on Earth. She has a strong mentor and guide in her tutor. Her half brother binds her to an Earthly heritage through their mother—an Earth-born woman. Through her new friends, diverse and unique, she is provided with examples of how to behave and misbehave. But Dahliea is no angel. At the first opportunity to let loose, she carelessly disregards the rules.
The reader sees the first stirrings of a young woman who can be headstrong and spoiled and realizes that he or she does not know all the complexities of Dahliea’s privileged life on the planet S’Renen or why she is being shielded from that past.
Jamie eventually comes to live with her older brother who is unprepared to be a parent. He adapts slowly and is kind and understanding, but he is slipshod in some ways. This arrangement gives her some freedom and enables her to avoid the problems that could arise from a stricter fostering situation.
I found this book extremely enjoyable. It is sure to engage a young adult audience. The plot moved swiftly and logically. Things that were not fully explained were well within the scope of imagination. Prior to the snowfall, the book was real and gently written. After the snow appears, it kicks into high gear and is thrilling. Snowfall’s Secret is endearing, exciting, and well worth reading. Readers will wish they had the next book waiting so that they can continue with Jamie as she uncovers her true destiny.