Cover image for The snow falcon
The snow falcon
Harrison, Stuart, 1958-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
341 pages ; 25 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


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A noteworthy literary debut set in the majestic snow-covered spruce forests of the Pacific Northwest. When a gyrfalcon is wounded by a hunter, she is rescued and taken to a nearby farmhouse, where she irrecoverably changes the lives of her savior and those he comes to love.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Harrison's entertaining debut novel has generated lots of prepub buzz, predicting Horse Whispererlike success. The story begins with Michael Somers returning to his Pacific Northwest hometown after being released from jail. The townsfolk are upset about having a former convict in their midst, and Michael becomes an outcast. But when a loutish local ne'er-do-well shoots a rare gyr-falcon, Michael almost forgets his troubles as he becomes caught up in rescuing the wounded bird and nursing it back to health. In the process of saving the falcon, Michael befriends nine-year-old Jamie, who hasn't spoken since he witnessed his father's death a year earlier. But Michael's friendship with Jamie--and later, with Jamie's attractive mom--doesn't go unnoticed by the resentful townsfolk. Tragedy strikes, but as with most best-sellers, the ending is happy. Despite occasional banality, there's plenty to like about this engrossing tale: intriguing facts about falcons and falconry, suspense, a dash of romance, and a handsome hero. Expect the buzz to grow louder on this one. --Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

Though it contains substitute ingredients, New Zealander Harrison's first novel sticks close to the recipe for success that made The Horse Whisperer a bestseller. Take one wounded animal (a falcon), one emotionally scarred child (Jamie Baker, who hasn't spoken since witnessing his father's death in a hunting accident) and one lonely, attractive woman (Susan, Jamie's mother). Add a wilderness setting (western Canada) and a bird whisperer (neophyte falconer Michael Somers). Blend vigorously until falcon heals, boy speaks and woman loves again. As the novel opens, a rare gyrfalcon, blown from its icebound Northern home by fierce storms, circles the inhospitable skies near Little River Bend. Michael is also a reluctant arrival. Absent from his hometown for two decades, he served a brief prison sentence for an incident "back east" seven years earlier. His reputation, embellished by local gossip, precedes him. Despite a hostile reception, he stays to probe psychic wounds left by his estranged father's death and his mother's suicide. When the falcon is wounded by a poacher, Michael rescues it, takes a crash course in falconry and, after the bird heals, begins training it for its return to the wild. Jamie and Susan, who live next door, become intrigued. Although Harrison laces his story with interesting details about the art of falconry, his narrative style is often awkward and nearly everything the reader might reasonably expect to happen eventually does. The result is a predictable novel that fails to rise above its derivative concept. Major ad/promo; audio rights to Brilliance; rights sold in U.K., Germany, Norway, Holland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Israel. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This is a beautiful, lyrical ode to a magnificent bird of prey and a novel of forgiveness and redemption. Just released from jail, Michael Somers returns to his hometown in the Pacific Northwest to resolve some serious conflicts from his dysfunctional childhood. Of course, the good citizens shun him. In his wandering he finds an injured gyrfalcon that he hopes to rehabilitate. The strongest and most interesting chapters of this debut novel show Michael learning about falcons and falconry‘an art that he teaches Jamie Baker, the boy next door who hasn't spoken since his father died in a hunting accident. This novel has great elements‘action, adventure, romance, drama, and a teaspoon of sadness and regret. Here's hoping Harrison will write many more wonderful books. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/98.]‘Dawn L. Anderson, North Richland Hills P.L., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-Michael Somers has returned to his hometown of Little River Bend in western Canada, hoping in vain that residents will forget-or forgive-his criminal past. Released from psychiatric treatment, he hopes to continue the healing process by revisiting his childhood, and especially his relationship with his dead father. In spite of the overt hostility of the townspeople, Michael decides to stay. Then he finds a gyrfalcon wounded by a hunter, and determines to learn falconry so he can nurse it back to health and teach it to hunt again. Jamie, a nine-year-old neighbor, watches his efforts in silence. The child witnessed the death of his father in a hunting accident over a year ago, and has not spoken since. His mother reluctantly allows him to spend time with Michael and Cully, the snow falcon, hoping that her son's fascination with the bird will bring him out of himself. In a harrowing climax, Cully unexpectedly takes flight before her leash is unfastened and tangles herself in the cleft of a high cliff. Michael climbs up to free her; Jamie, below, must call the falcon to his gloved hand so she can be released from the leash and fly free. Michael falls from the face of the cliff, gravely injured, but Jamie finds his voice and calls Cully down and releases her. YAs will be riveted by this tale of humans as much in need of healing as the falcon who brings them together.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.