Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.
But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.
Date Published: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Del Rey
Date Read: October 2018
No. of Pages: 480 pages
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Whimsical, complex, layered and unconventional. A true gem!
Spinning Silver is my first Naomi Novik book and it definitely did not disappoint. Naomi Novik had this unique way of narrating the story. With alternating multiple point of views, it surely needed some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier to digest. I was so sure to give this book a 4-star rating, because to be completely honest I was confused probably half the time, but this is on me, I won’t be blaming the book for my confusion. I was sick half of October right about the same time I was reading the book so the meds might have affected my reading experience (hahaha you need not know this but I felt the need to explain myself). Spinning Silver is a loose retelling of Rumplestiltskin, but don’t rely too much on it being a retelling as it also feels like an original story.
Spinning Silver was told through the different characters’ point of view. There was no indication as to who is narrating, you just have to read through the first few sentences and take it from there. This is understandably difficult to follow, but as I’ve mentioned once you get the hang of it, it’ll become easier to know who was narrating the story. Through this kind of narration, the author adds texture to the whole book. It might work for some and might not, but as for me it worked out pretty fine. It is like you’ll never know which point of view you’ll get so you’ll read through and before you know it you’re already hooked. My favourite point of view will always be that of Miryem and Irina. These two ladies, presented the story in such straight forward manner, that you couldn’t help but crave more of it.
I love that this book dwells on strong female characters. We have Miryem, Irina and Wanda, our main protagonists. Miryem’s character come off as a strong person who takes no shit from anyone. I loved how she managed to save her family from poverty through the skills she has been given, that later on led her to be a part of something bigger and beyond her comprehension. Irina, on the other hand is the daughter of the duke, who started off weak but ended up standing for the people she loves, evoking true characteristics of a leader. And we have Wanda, who had an abusive father was taken under Miryem’s wing to help out in the household as payment for his father’s debt, learned to stand up for herself and her brothers. Wanda longed for a normal family and found it in Miryem. These ladies each struggled on their own, yet came out of it not completely unscathed but definitely wiser and better than they’ve been before. I love how this book encapsulated women’s strength and resilience despite the unfortunate hands they were dealt with.
I have to give it to Naomi Novik for building this whimsical world. I love how it was written so vividly and how she was able to interweave the lives of the characters making this beautiful tapestry of complex and gripping world. I swear it is something you wouldn’t be able to get enough of. The shift of point of view making a shift unto this parallel world as well surely added beauty to the whole story. It is engrossing and pure entertainment.
I have to admit that there are parts that the book can definitely do away with, and also there are parts that are quite dragging. There are parts that I wish could have gone faster so as to hold my attention better and to give a more exciting vibe. The book generally gave off this calm mood, but also provided the necessary intensity as the need for it arose. There are parts that I wished were stretched more or should have been elaborated better, and there are parts as well that could have been shortened. This is one of the issues I have for this book, but despite this, the ending made up for everything. I have already resigned to the idea that I wouldn’t be getting the ending I wanted, that this book would not have the romance I have been craving for. I was fine with it, until the last three pages where I grinned like a fool. I reread those last pages, willing it to be longer, finding something more than what was written, because oh boy I wanted so much more, in fact I demand a novella, or an epilogue, just please give me something more.
I don’t know why I have waited this long to read a Naomi Novik book, had I known that her writing style is lyrical I could have started with Uprooted the first time it came out. It is such a pleasure to read something so poetic and rich, I couldn’t help but be in awe of her style. Her writing isn’t something I usually come across with, and that’s why whenever I do I make sure I savour it.
It was indeed a great reading experience, even if it took me quite a while to finish it, I am so glad I was able to read it, I am so glad I had the attention span for this kind of fantasy. It has been a while since I last read a fantasy book, and I am happy it was Spinning Silver. This book was so good, I’ll be thinking about it for days.
“A robber who steals a knife and cuts himself cannot cry out against the woman who kept it sharp.”