It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for The Snow Fox Diaries, a novel by Jan Mazzoni: revised and reissued in August 2020, with author’s notes, it’s now available both for kindle and in paperback. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation and support.
This was one of those times when I was very sorry I just couldn’t manage to fit another book into my October reading list. Having been attracted by the book description, I took a look at the editorial reviews on the Amazon page, and they’re so excellent – and there are even more enthusiastic reviews emerging as a result of the ongoing blog tour. This a book I’ll be adding to my kindle – I really do hope I can catch up with it later.
Let’s take a closer look…
When passion becomes obsession, anything can happen…
Chic, intelligent, highly motivated and unexpectedly unemployed. AND soon to be forty. Not a situation Katie Tremain finds easy to cope with, especially as it gives her time to notice that she and husband Ben seem to get on better together when they’re apart. So when the opportunity to escape the city and work on a dilapidated house on Exmoor comes her way, how can she refuse?
Then, one misty morning, she comes across something so bizarre that she can’t believe her eyes. A fox with fur so white it sparkles, like snow. A very rare albino vixen.
From that moment Katie’s days – and her life – change completely. And as the fate of her faltering marriage becomes entwined with that of the fox, Katie must decide just what she’s prepared to risk to save this beautiful but vulnerable creature.
Her sanity? Her marriage? Even her life?
See what I mean? Doesn’t that look just wonderful? I’m delighted to be able to share an extract to give you a taste of Jan’s writing…
It’s as if the world is holding its breath.
There’s no sound, just an icy hush. Nothing moves; even a single snowflake drifting down from the leaden sky seems to hang suspended, like a tinsel ornament on one of the Christmas trees that have already been thrown out along with the crumpled wrapping paper, cards with curling corners, the turkey left-overs, littering the streets of towns and villages across the country.
Here, in the frozen white wonderland of dawn on the edge of the moors, there is no litter. Or it’s litter of a different kind. After weeks of snow, the birds are dying, dropping frozen from the skies to lie alongside hedges, their wings flapping eerily until they’re covered by the next fall of sparkling white powder. Ducks, weakened by the cold, doze on ponds and then wake to find themselves in the grip of a razor-sharp sheet of ice. Even some of the ponies are dying, those stocky little animals bred tough to survive the harshest of winters in one of the most desolate of landscapes. Sheltering in a copse, five yearlings are trapped when the snow drifts that surround them freeze overnight, turn into slippery white walls that leave them no way of escape.
An old sycamore tree, snapped in half by last week’s gales, trailing ribbons of ivy, rests propped against the tree next to it, like a drunk who’s determined not to fall but can’t quite get upright again. Beneath it, the ground could be made of granite. No wonder then that even here the coldest winter for many years has taken its toll. Hibernating hedgehogs, curled into tight prickly balls, haven’t so much died as simply stopped living as the blood in their veins becomes clogged with ice crystals. Voles, moles, rabbits, all of them perishing.
The young fox hasn’t given up, not yet. Picking her way silently through the stiff white bracken, she stops every now and again, head raised, ears pricked for the slightest movement. She is hungry. Worse, she’s starving. Though the extreme cold has resulted in so many casualties, bodies frozen solid and then buried under new snow are hard to locate, almost impossible to eat. She’s been forced close to the village, to farms, rifling through bins and bags to find anything edible, foods she wouldn’t give a second sniff at other times: pizza crusts, carrot peel, stale cake, occasionally – if she’s lucky – some kind of carcass. But at least they helped reduce the hollow feeling inside. It was risky though. Too risky. Once a door had been flung open and out shot a snapping, barking bundle of fury, so fast she’d had to scrabble over the fence and almost not made it. Another time, pawing frantically at a sticky mass of bones and feathers on the road, she’d not noticed an approaching car until she felt the swoosh of air as it passed her, way too close. She’d been lucky not to have ended up like the bird.
The moors are home territory. Here at least she knows her way around, she’s safer here. Providing she can find food she has a chance.
Above her, a sudden shriek as a female sparrow hawk drops silently from the branch of a fir tree onto a weakened male of her own kind, the pin sharp claws on her talons sinking deep, the male already half dead, hardly struggling. Bizarre, unnatural happenings. The successful female swoops clumsily over a nearby hedge with her heavy prize, and then down out of sight to start plucking. Two robins sitting close together inside the thorny hedge are disturbed, puff themselves up nervously, blinking, but reluctant to leave their roost they soon settle again.
The fox hesitates, also startled by the scream. Cold, exhausted, she lifts her head and licks at the snow as it settles on her nose. Her eyes begin to close. But then her head swivels. She’s heard something, the tiniest whisper in the undergrowth. A long pause, ears erect, as she tries to pinpoint its exact location. Her movement muffled by the snow, she takes a few tentative steps, hesitates, edges closer.
Whatever happens she can’t afford to lose this chance. Her whiskers twitch. A sharp intake of breath, and she pounces. And misses as the mouse scuttles frantically along behind a curtain of creepers that overhang a large flat rock. The fox lopes around the back of the rock, sniffs, dabs tentatively with her paw. She waits. It’s there, she knows it is, she can smell it, smell the fear. Next time she’ll get it. The mouse too waits, shivering.
And, I must say, that extract was everything I hoped for. So would you like to read this book too…?
With thanks to both Jan and Anne, I’m delighted to be able to offer one UK reader (and please note, UK readers only!) the chance to win a paperback copy. Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Note: Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which the data will be deleted. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
It was only recently that Jan Mazzoni found that – surprise, surprise – there IS a genre where her writing fits perfectly. It’s ecofiction. And having been writing fiction that combines her passion for the natural world with a gripping tale for many years, she’s over the moon to find a place where the stories she so loves to tell are completely at home.
Not that ecofiction is new. But as concern for the planet and its inhabitants grows, so does the popularity of novels that pick up today’s environmental concerns, toss them into real-life situations with Ordinary People, and then stand back to watch what happens next. In principle ecofiction is much like any other genre – historical, thrillers, even romances – in that they all need the protagonist to go through some kind of hellish situation and challenge before reaching the (hopefully) happy ending. Ecofiction just tends to have prettier locations!
It’s her yearning for wilderness that encouraged Jan to move to a little house hidden in a large, rambling garden on the edge of Exmoor, a windy, bleak but beautiful part of the UK. Here, with husband George and four Romanian rescue dogs, she leads the simple life she’s always wanted to live. She calls herself a recluse-in-training. As an only child she long ago grew up living inside the stories in her own head, and is quite happy there. She can control that world. And when the ideas that come seem like they’re worth putting down on paper, she retreats to the shed at the top of the garden and taps away at the PC. Sadly the dogs don’t usually go with her. It’s too cold up there.