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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Magician Trilogy.”

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

On Gwyn’s ninth birthday, his mother throws him a party and invites some friends from his Welch village. Gwyn’s father ruins the party, still angry that Gwyn’s older sister, Bethan, disappeared exactly four years earlier. Gwyn’s quirky grandmother, Nain, gives him a whistle, seaweed, a brooch, a broken toy horse and a scarf. She tells him to give all but the horse to the wind to see if he possesses the magic of his ancestors.

Gwyn lets the wind take Nain’s gifts. First, the brooch becomes a glow-in-the dark spider. He names it Arianwen, and it spins an intricate web in the shape of Bethan, which almost comes to life. Next, his whistle becomes a flute that allows him to hear the sounds of strange lands. The seaweed becomes a floating silver ship.

Nain warns Gwyn that his magic must remain a secret and says he will always be alone. When Gwyn tries to tell his friends about his powers, he realizes Nain is right. The other boys tease or keep their distance, thinking he’s crazy.

When Gwyn gives the scarf to the wind, an orphaned girl named Eirlys shows up at his school. She watches as Gwyn inadvertently uses his power to challenge a bully. When she comes home with Gwyn, his father is instantly smitten with her. Gwyn's family members begin to notice her striking resemblance to Bethan.

Mother flushes Arianwen down the sink, and Eirlys urges Gwen to retrieve the creature. Gwyn tries to do this magically, by releasing the broken horse into the wind against Nain’s orders. This causes a storm, and Eirlys is temporarily lost. Gwyn casts a spell to retrieve the broken horse.

His friend, Alun, goes missing for several days, and later reveals he was trapped in a wall of ice. He says someone was trapped with him and that other person, a man, gave him back the broken horse. He tells Gwyn he believes the boy’s stories about magic now.

When Eirlys returns, she stays with the family for a while. She reveals that she used to be Bethan but has changed since she went to the magical land Gwyn has glimpsed. She tells Gwyn she is going back, and she tries to take him with her. He tells her he won’t go. Once she’s gone, Gwyn’s parents are at peace. His father treats him better, and Gwyn promises he won’t leave them.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Nain believes Gwyn is a magician like his ancestors and urges him to find out for himself. Gwyn discovers he has powers and that the items his grandmother has given him offer glimpses into another land. Nain warns him the toy horse is evil. After he releases it into the wind and causes a storm, he casts a spell to retrieve the horse.

Authority Roles

Nain urges Gwyn to test his magical powers and gives him items with which to try. Gwyn’s grieving father is angry and unkind until Eirlys arrives. Mother throws Gwyn a birthday party and tries to help him live a normal life in his sister’s absence.


Gwen reads about an angry king who cuts off horses’ ears, tails, eyelids and lips until they scream in pain.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying: Gwyn sometimes lies to keep his magic powers a secret.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 13




Jenny Nimmo






Record Label



Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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