Spinning Silver

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

Spinning Silver was a retelling of Rumplestiltskin.  One of the things I liked most about this book was that the main emphasis was on something other than romance.  It was a story of honor, of friendship, of family, and of paying your debts.  This is the first book by Novik I've ever read.  Definitely checking out Uprooted!
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Naomi Novik is a magician, her previous novel Uprooted is one of my favorites. I didn't find this one as immersive, but it was still very enchanting. 
Told by alternating points of view and at first a little hard for me to get into, but ultimately, became what I loved most about this. Three different women, each the perfect balance of strength and love. While there were some plot points that I would have liked her to develop a bit more, I love Novik's modern day fairy tales for tackling tough topics, and creating heroines who save themselves.
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Naomi Novik does it again with a wonderful retelling of a classic fairy tale.  Ms. Novik does a great job in taking the basic premise of something and reworking it into something new and fresh.  There were some parts of the book that lagged and the descriptions became a bit cumbersome but overall, I really enjoyed the story.  The characters had depth and surprised me with some of their actions but I felt they stayed genuine to who they were at their core.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.

I look forward to more books by Naomi Novik.
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Like many others who read this, I closed the book with mixed feelings. For the most part, I really enjoyed this book, and Novik's writing was simply genius at times. Novik wrote this book in several 1st person point of views, and transitioned between them with only a break and symbol to give you a heads up. The first couple of chapters were very hard to understand that, but by half way through the book, you could glean information of who the speaker was within a couple of paragraphs. I thought that that was really cool and well done, to be able to give such different voices to each character in such recognizable ways. 

I don't think this was as good as Uprooted, but I don't know that it would be fair to compare the two. Uprooted had a more straightforward plot with straightforward themes, whereas Spinning Silver seemed more complex. Between the switching POVs throughout, the themes of debts (when you pay and when you owe) was a little more difficult to follow. (But, I'm going to put most of that "blame" on me and not reading this book in large chunks at a time.)

If you're *barely* patiently waiting for the next Winternight triliogy book, this might be a good book to hold you over. 

(originally posted on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37168303-spinning-silver)
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Spinning Silver is the second book I have read by Naomi Novik, and once again I fell in love with her characters and storytelling. You guys, I spent weeks savoring this book because I did not want it to end. Naomi Novik’s gift of writing is enchanting, mesmerizing, and overall, purely a magical experience. 

Told in multiple points-of-view, Spinning Silver weaves together the fairy-tale features of “Rumpelstiltskin” with a new tale of female empowerment. Multiple characters provide details of their surroundings but their narratives are intricately bounded and immersed into one main story. At times the storytelling can become so complex and dense that you have to pay attention to detail to acknowledge whose point of view you are reading. But overall the pacing is executed so well, which allows the narration to mirror a theatrical experience. 

In the end, I highly recommend that if you love fantastical fairy-tale retellings, you have to read Spinning Silver. I loved that there are multiple villains in this novel, and both of them are just as sharp and biting as the wintery setting. I admired the idea that romance and relationships are not taken lightly in this book; the fierce female characters make sure that love and respect are earned. Overall, Spinning Silver is a slow-burning fantasy that interweaves rich magic, cunning and bold female protagonists, and antagonists that teeter on being morally gray, and in all honestly, this book was a delectable morsel to read.
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I had a hard time starting this novel than I had for any other of the author's books. The beginning was a slow start. I found that I could not really get into the book until page 100. I am not sure if it was because I had just finished a nonfiction book before and had to switch mental gears, or if it was the book itself. However, once I started the book I go into the book it was very entertaining and endearing. The characters are well rounded, easy to relate too, and the connection between characters are delightful.  The idea of exploitation, greed, and family are driving forces of the book.
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A daughter from a Jewish moneylending family, Miryem is resourceful, tenacious, creative, and persistent. While the Rumpelstiltskin-retelling at the core of the novel is compelling, Spinning Silver is also a powerful story about a series of important alliances made between women. After rebuilding her father’s failing money lending business, Miryem hires Wanda, a poor local girl, to help with her bookkeeping and collections. This act transforms Wanda’s life and she explains, “Miryem had given me silver for my work. She had put her hand out to me and taken mine, like I was someone who could make a bargain for myself, instead of just someone stealing from my father.” Likewise, the alliance between Miryem, Wanda, and Irina, the plain daughter of duke turned tsarina, ultimately defeats a hungry fire demon, a proud ice king, and saves two kingdoms and countless lives. Throughout the novel, there is a clear message: women do not belong to men. Women are not passive actors and they are not pawns to be used for financial gain or political advancement. Women are stronger when they help each other. When she is finally triumphant, Miryem negotiates for peace, but, specifically, calls for an end to the Staryk practice of stealing and raping human women. She demands that the Staryk king promise that they “shall take no woman unwilling who has refused her hand.”
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If you haven't already fallen in love with Naomi Novik because of her Temeraire series and "Uprooted," there's not much hope for you. As with "Uprooted," "Spinning Silver" is a powerful re-envisioning of an old folk tale, with inflections of the fey and a fierce embrace of everything positive and empowering about feminism. You're not going to like this book if you like your women meek and lacking agency; you will definitely like this book if you have a social conscience and a taste for mostly heteronormative fantasy adventure. The story underpinning "Spinning Silver" is perhaps less widely known in the West than that underpinning "Uprooted," but both take the historical story and mash it up with a whole pleasurable mélange of tales and archetypes, then subvert them in fun and whimsical ways. That said, readers will recognize hints of Rumpelstiltskin here and there, if Rumpelstiltskin was a White Walker from that *other* popular fantasy series right now. There's not a lot that's new or revelatory in the concept, but there's much to treasure and value in the execution.
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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review.

This was my first book by Naomi Novik and I thought it was very good but it had some flaws that stopped me from rating it a 5 star book. The story itself was beautiful and a fantastic take on a fairy tale but I felt it dragged at points. I also wanted more from the ending [ in particular the romance. I wanted wayyyy more from that. I also wanted to know what happened with Irina and the king??? (hide spoiler)] I felt like this whole long story led up to the ending but there wasn't enough of it.
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A beautiful sequel to Naomi Novik's "Uprooted", it tells the tale of a moneylender's daughter, Miryem, who has to shoulder the weight of her father's debts. Armed with a sharp wit and a quick cleverness, she takes matters into her own hands and collects the money that her father has not. She also dons the reputation of being able to turn silver into gold, hearkening back to Rumpelstiltskin.  But her voice is not the only one present in this book, there are several other key characters whose points of view all come together to weave a tale about the delicate balance between what is "good" and what is "right", as well as how far one will go and to what lengths in order to save a loved one. I would define this as a coming of age novel, but also a really good journey, one that constantly has the readers wondering what is the right thing to do. These characters mirror common flaws in all of us, giving us a chance to be on this quest with Miryem and her family.
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I had to read this novel because I loved Uprooted, also by Ms. Novik.  Like Uprooted, this novel is fantasy as well and has the Slavik, eastern European setting, which I love.  It's the story of two women and their families.  

Miryem's father loans money to people of their town, but he is so kind that he cannot force people to pay him back, which is why Miryem steps in and becomes the moneylender after her mother becomes ill.  Miryem doesn't like that people borrow money and buy things while her family barely gets by, often being hungry or sick without affording medicine.  She isn't mean when she collects funds, but she is firm.  She also takes trade as payment.  Her maternal grandfather is the moneylender in a much larger city.  He gives Miryem silver, which she returns as gold.  She is as talented as her grandfather, so he continually gives her advice.  The town Miryem lives in lies next to a forest where the Staryk live.  The Staryk hear of her abilities and bring her silver to turn into gold.  She's clever, but can she meet this challenge?  The Staryk are not known for being kind.  Each time they come to her, there's danger.

Wanda is the young girl Miryem hires to help in their household.  She has a horrible home life, and she doesn't want her father to know that she is making money or he'll take it to buy drinks.  She worries about her brothers.  They all talk to mom who is buried beneath the tree.  Miryem begins to teach Wanda how to collect  and record payments in the record book.  Only Wanda and Miryem realizez the Staryk are visiting.  Even if people see them, they quickly forget and have no recollection.   Wanda replaces  Miryem when she's with the Staryk.  

This novel has a lot of perspectives.  I'm just mentioning two.  The lives of the king and his wife intersect with Miryem as the Staryk must fight the dark evil.  For fear of giving too much away, I'm stopping there.  This novel is very vivid in my mind.  I wrote a review when I finished the novel eons ago, but I can't find it!!!  I'm doing everything from memory, so names are hazy but the images the novel paints in my mind are clear.  Images of cold, fire, journeys, opulence, a simple village, and a magical forest permeate my mind.  The ending was powerful, as the characters and various stories all come together. The novel is complex and interesting.  I honestly didn't like is as well as Uprooted, but I still really enjoyed this novel.
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My library has already purchased this book.  My students love Naomi Novik, especially her Temeraire series.  This is a bit of a slower read than Uprooted, but still an interesting twist on a familiar tale.  Good for those who liked Cinder or The Girl in the Tower.
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Three unique female characters. Not as romantic as Uprooted, but the pacing is better. With the exception of the male love interests, the characters are fully developed. Novik is great at presenting antagonists who turn out to be just as innocent as our heroes. She's now written two of my favorite books of the last 10 years and I can't wait for her next book.
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Naomi Novik is pretty popular around the blogosphere and her other book, Uprooted, has been around a little while ago and gathering so many great reviews. Spinning Silver, a loose retelling of Rumplestillskin, seemed to have the same effect on people. Naturally, I was nervous to get into this story and… I’m sad to say some elements did not work out for me.

If there is something I can admit here, it’s that Naomi Novik writes like you would write a fairytale – somehow, her writing reminded me of these kind of stories. It had a slow rhythm, an interesting world-building at times. Yet, it did not manage to captive me as much as it did for others: somehow, I felt disconnected from the beginning to the end of the story, which prevented me from falling head over heels with it like others did.

The characters though were one good element here: I really liked their determination, I loved the siblings dynamics and the family dynamics we could explore as well. Told from multiple POV, I had a bit of a hard time when the POV changed in the middle of a chapter and did not know who it was until a couple of paragraphs in.

Overall, Spinning Silver was not a bad story, but for me, it felt like a long, slow and sometimes confusing read. Yet, with all the positive reviews out there, I think it’s just a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” and that so many people could, would and will really love this fairy-tale, atmospheric wintery story.
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This is a clever, engaging book. Its subversive take on the fairytale Rumpelstiltskin makes the original pale in comparison. Novik's writing is lyrical without being soppy, and her plot twists keep the reader in suspense. I literally cheered at the ending, I was so pleased by it - the way she brought all the plot lines together was beautiful. Her female characters (especially Miryem) are amazing, but that's not the only reason to read this book. The only thing I didn't quite enjoy was how many narrators there were, but from one standpoint it was interesting to get a glimpse into the minds of even some of the more odious characters.
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Dark, dense, well crafted tale loaded with intrigues, well crafted, fully developed characters, and a plot similar too, but very different from the traditional story of Rumpelstiltskin, Not exactly a retelling, but similar.  I love this story. Such an interesting tale.  I enjoyed Miryam- she's such a strong, smart woman compared to the little whiny young woman in Rumpelstiltskin. When her father nearly bankrupts the family, Miryum sets out to save it. Her father a money-lender who is too reluctant to collect what's owed him. Miryum, proves her worth very quickly as she turns silver to gold. Girl has a good head on her shoulders, a sharp mind when it comes to making money. Of course, adventure ensues and it's just a matter of time before she gets the attention of the king! I think YA's and up will enjoy this tell. It's so rich.
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Naomi Novik is a master storyteller and much like Uprooted this novel gives fresh, brisk life to a fairy tale. Spinning Silver is loosely based on the familiar story of Rumpstiltskin. Our main heroine Miryem comes from a line of moneylenders, and she is herself one of the best on the street. She develops such a reputation that the king of the ice creatures that roam the forest, the Staryk, has challenged her to a test that will impact her very world. 

Novik writes lovely, immersive fantasy. The novel is told in multiple perspectives and readers will have to depend on recognizing symbols at the beginning of sections to understand which character they're reading through. Some perspectives were more interesting to me than others. Miryem and Irina were by far my favorites. You will enjoy the novel far more if you don't expect much in the romance department. The book is far more interested in telling the story of family, friends, demons, and community than love stories. 

Thanks so much to NetGalley and Del Rey for this copy to review!
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SPINNING SILVER is a captivating fantasy read. I couldn't put it down and read it in one sitting.

Basically, it's a retelling of Rumpeltstiltskin, with Miryem as the heroine who can spin silver into gold, whether in our world or the world of the Staryk (kinda like fairies, only more dangerous and bad). But as you read on, you'll see hints of other fairy tales, like the tsar who was so enamored of his own beauty that he could've gone among his people without clothes that aren't worthy of his beauty. Or the magic of the number 3, as we see a number of things happening in 3's, like Irina (the duke's daughter) being given 3 dresses by her father and 3 betrothals in a night.

Yet, much as I had fun identifying fairy tales, I was more amazed at the story that Naomi Novik wove, a rich, magical tapestry that is more than the original fairy tale and which brought together three heroines who with their wit and courage and sense of honor fought for their future as well as that of those they love. There were layers to their character and the story that I uncover with delight, certainly a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin that I never could've imagined. I thoroughly enjoyed this fairy tale retelling and wished there could be more! Like maybe an epilogue or something. Although the ending was already pretty great and gives us a closure on the situations of each of our heroines.

Oh, one more thing. I wish there was more romance, i.e. more scenes of romantic development between each pair. I'm hard pressed, for example, to believe that the tsar is suddenly in love with the tsarina, although I'm pretty sure she can make him do that, too, with time. I thought it was more of gratitude there toward the end. Irina is quite a surprise to me, I must say, because when she was under her father's thumb, she didn't seem to have a voice, but she bloomed when she came into power.

If you haven't read any Naomi Novik books yet, you may certainly start here. But once you're done, do go and read Uprooted. You won't regret it.
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Novik has spun a tale featuring Miryem, daughter of a softhearted moneylender.  Her father hates to collect on his debts, and the family lives in poverty until Miryem, in an attempt to save her mother's life, takes over the business at age 14.  The family fortunes slowly turn around, but at the cost of Miryem's innocence.  Her grandfather, also a moneylender; albeit successful in the nearby city, encourages her and even invests with her, giving her a bag of silver coins.  When Miryem returns the bag to him, it is exchanged for gold and stored in the bank.  However, after doing this a couple times, she brags once too often where the mysterious Staryk of the woods are able to hear her.  

The people of the villages fear the Staryk, who bring cold, ice, and snow wherever they traverse.  They often raid the villages and plunder for precious gold, never anything else.  Lately, the winter season has been longer and longer, causing even more fear and tension, with the villagers constantly watching for the strange people over their shoulders.  

After being overheard, Miryem answers the knock on the door from the Lord of the Staryk, with a challenge to convert his silver to gold.  She shows no fear, but asks for a boon in return.  Thrice she returns gold to the Lord, after which he takes her to be his consort in his kingdom against her will.

This story is an intriguing spin on a very old fairy tale, with more sub-plots woven into the fabric of the storyline.  Wanda and her brothers, who serve Miryem's family, as well as the Duke's plain daughter and his plans for her. 

I quite enjoyed it, but I wasn't as invested in it as I was Uprooted.
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Naomi Novik has retold the fairy tale of spinning straw into gold as a Russian folktale involving a Jewish moneylender's family, a Russian tsar and  a Staryk prince from fairyland.  Intricate plotting with characters with mixed motives.  Enjoy!!!!
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