Fairy tale and history, wilderness and civilisation collide in this brilliant and magical new novel from the author of Little Exiles. In the depths of winter in the land of Belarus, where ancient forests straddle modern country borders, an orphaned boy and his grandfather go to scatter his mother's ashes in the woodlands.
Her last request to rest where she grew up will be fulfilled. Frightening though it is to leave the city, the boy knows he must keep his promise to mama: to stay by and protect his grandfather, whatever happens.
Her last potent gifts - a little wooden horse, and hunks of her homemade gingerbread - give him vigour. And grandfather's magical stories help push the harsh world away. But the driving snow, which masks the tracks of forest life, also hides a frozen history of long-buried secrets. And as man and boy travel deeper among the trees, grandfather's tales begin to interweave with the shocking reality of his own past, until soon the boy's unbreakable promise to mama is tested in unimaginable ways.