Soonchild Russell Hoban Book Review

You ever stumble on a book that you’ve heard nothing about, but immediately find yourself immensely attracted to? Soonchild by the late Russell Hoban was that book for me — the Patrick Ness blurb on the cover acting as a sort of siren call. Friends, this genius, slim little book evoked the same sort of feelings in me that The Alchemist and Life Of Pi did.

Soonchild Russell Hoban Book Cover


I feel as though Soonchild is exactly the sort of book you need to read more than once. The first time is for the plot and the art within. The second time, for me would be to better understand the underlying symbolism and what the meaning of it all is. I am the sort of reader who is not always immediately able to parse out the symbolism in what I read, and thus for me it helps to re-read.

Soonchild takes place in the cold north -where the characters are Inuits — I believe that is what they are referred to as being. Sixteen-Face John is the main character who basically wears sixteen different faces as he moves through his fears. He is a shaman, but not a good one. When his wife, No Problem is due to have her baby, called Soonchild in the womb because the baby will soon be a child, they find that she won’t come out because she hasn’t heard the world songs. Thus, Sixteen-Face John must go on a sort of spirit journey and collect the songs. Basically, the heart of the book is in the spirit journey.

Y’all, this book, Soonchild by Russell Hoban is deep and metaphorical in a way that I don’t immediately understand but want to. The art in the Advanced Reader Copy is beautifully rendered by Alexis Deacon and absolutely enhances the story in a tactile way. Soonchild probably isn’t the book for everyone, but has an audience among those who like to ponder on the themes of life, death, nature, and it’s never-ending cycle. I fully enjoyed this book and will be re-reading it upon ordering the finished copy.

Disclosure: Received for review.

Other reviews of Soonchild by Russell Hoban:

Fallen Star Stories – “A completely remarkable experience

Littleelfman’s Bibliotherapy – “Mystical, arresting, and inspiring

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. So glad to see a review of this. Because of the artwork I keep picking this up every time I wonder into Waterstones, but I haven’t bought it because I was unsure whether I would enjoy the story (despite it having Patrick Ness seal of approval!) Lovely review.

  2. This book sounds amazing! I have to read it!

  3. This book certainly sounds like something I would read when I was in the right mood for it. The story is completely intriguing, and I really like the cover!

  4. This one sounds beautiful. Also, you like Life of Pi. You win at life.

  5. This sounds like the kind of book I’ll need to read to take a break from my usual YA circuit. It’s good to get variety. 🙂

  6. Oooh, what’s this that has appeared in my reader? I hadn’t heard of this one either, but the cover art immediately grabbed me. I love wintery books, and I love bears, so couple that with this art style and a blurb by Patrick Ness and I happily fell into your review. I like the idea that it’s one of those books you almost have to read more than once–I’ll certainly be giving it a shot!

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