Spinning Silver

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

I've heard a lot of good things about Naomi Novik's books and because I heard this is inspired or based on rumpelstiltskin - I knew I needed to pick this up.

This is such a slow paced (in a good way, in no way dragging), rich fantasy with a great cast on characters. They each have their own unique voice and add so much to the story.

It's so well written, to the point where I want to pick up more of Naomi's books even though I don't know what they're about. 

I'm glad it wasn't romance heavy, I hate romance and it's been making it's way into fantasy more and more so I loved this book didn't take that direction.

I've seen non-fantasy readers love this and I can see why.
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DNF page 150

After reading and really enjoyed "uprooted" by this author, I couldn't wait to read her new novel "Spinning Silver", however, unfortunately, this wasn't my cup of tea. 

I just want to note, the Kindle edition of this book didn't actually work for me, so I had to read via an app and the formatting was all over the place. 

Overall, this story had a lot of promise and I can tell why people love it! But for me, it was very slow going and I prefer much faster plots. There were also a lot of perspectives from different characters and I just couldn't connect to any of them.

Overall, I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this title, unfortunately, it just wasn't for me.
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I started this book immediately after finishing UPROOTED (one of the most memorable books of my life!) and I gotta say, SPINNING SILVER somehow surpassed even that! My thoughts are all jumbled and scattered only because this book shattered me to the utmost and in a really good way.

When I started this book, I was already anticipating great things from Naomi Novik, given how some of my friends and a lot of Goodreads reviewers were saying SPINNING SILVER is better than UPROOTED.

Well?
THEY WERE SO FREAKING RIGHT!

Though the Goodreads synopsis was vague, I somehow got the idea that it was about another tale of a supernatural creature stealing away a maiden for some gain. And though SPINNING SILVER got that in similar with UPROOTED, the former is a lot more symbolic and meaningful than the latter.

Mostly because unlike UPROOTED, SPINNING SILVER has a real life connection to it. The main protagonist, Miryem, is a Jewish girl, and author Naomi Novik herself is Jewish.

This book shows us all the pain and suffering the Jewish people had to undergo throughout the Middle Ages and later on. Ousted from their homeland in Israel, the Jewish folks then spread throughout Europe. And everywhere they were mistreated as the outcast, forced to live in a separate section of any city or town or village than others, forced to build their own little world. Be it by the Christians or the Muslims, nowhere were the Jewish people accepted wholeheartedly, the antisemitism was so strong. And this pain, this pain of not finding your true home, not being accepted anywhere as an equally respectful human being, is the main focal point of Miryem's story.

Miryem Mandelstam is the only child of a poor Jewish moneylender who cannot bring himself to collect money from those who borrows from him. And most of the people who borrow money from him are heartlessly frugal to the point of gladly watching the Mandelstam family starve and die than return their money. That is when Miryem steps in. As a teen, she goes from door to door and starts to bring back their money. She is heavily resented for this by the townspeople, for taking back what was rightfully hers.

This got my blood boiling so much! I wanted to punch and slap some of those people. And this is a realistic portrayal of how anyone non-Jewish treated the Jewish folks. THIS is where SPINNING SILVER shines more, more, much more than UPROOTED ever did or will. While UPROOTED itself is a beautiful book, SPINNING SILVER outshines it further by showing us a portion of our own world and how grossly prejudiced we can be toward those who aren't like us.

And this line punched my heart so hard. This poignant line hinting at many tragic incidents the Jewish folks had gone through:

"But after I picked my way around them, the old sewer grating in the ground was kept clear. I pulled it up easily, and there was a ladder there waiting for me to climb down. Waiting for many people to climb down, here close to the synagogue, in case one day men came through the wall of the quarter with torches and axes, the way they had in the west where my grandmother’s grandmother had been a girl." 

Anyway, this book, unlike UPROOTED, has a lot of narratives. Miryem is the central one, followed by Irina (the duke's daughter), Wanda (the charlady working in Miryem's house to pay off her father's debts), Stepon (Wanda's little brother), Mirnatius (The tsar of Lithvas), and finally, Magreta (Irina's nanny). None of the narratives are unimportant. They all show us something linking to the central theme.

Standing out from the crowd isn't always a good thing. Often times it's lonely out there.

Miryem, being Jewish, is an outsider because of her religion.

Wanda, being born in an abusive family living far away from the town, is an outsider because of her abusive father and their family's situation. Same goes for Stepon.

Irina is an outsider because of her lack of traditional beauty and being raised motherless.

Magreta is an outsider in her ward's household, because her ward is viewed as an outsider.

Tsar Mirnatius is an outsider, because his mother was a witch and was burned at the stake for trying to kill his half-brothers.

All of them are treated as outsiders in one way or another. All of them are pariahs in one way or another. And all of them have poignant stories to tell.

But IMO, none of them will ever come close to Miryem.

Oh God, I love Miryem so so much. Not a point went by when I didn't love her more than before. As the story progressed, my love for her only increased. I always looked forward to her POV. From being a humble impoverished moneylender's daughter, to a stern and sensible moneylender herself, to the Queen of the Staryk King, she only got more loving and loveable and amazing and utter badass.

I won't hesitate to tell you, she is one of the most memorable I've ever come upon. She is there in the top five of my most favorite characters, if not top three already.

She is a fiercely loyal, brave, and intelligent girl, who uses her brain in the most unique and shrewd way. She is fiercely protective of those she loves, and will do anything to protect them and make sure they're well and alive. She is brave enough to stand up to the terrifying Staryk King, and face the most dangerous and deadly fire demon all by herself. I am in awe of this girl, truly. I can never stop fangirling about her.

And Wanda? Oh, this poor girl broke my heart. Okay, not her, more like her story. She has got the worst luck in the book, worse than Miryem too. She is in the most helpless situation, being stuck with a drunk, abusive father who will sell her to anyone for marriage in exchange for three pigs. That was her value to him. Three f***ing pigs!

Her story touched me and made my heart break. I'm so so glad to see how she turns up later in the story. I'm so happy to find her deep friendship with Miryem develop. Though they don't get to share a lot of scenes in the book, you can feel how beautiful and understanding a sisterhood had blossomed between them.

Irina is one of those characters whom I cannot decide how to feel. She is 80% of the time brave and intelligent and caring. But sometimes the scheming turn of her mind makes me doubt my adoration for her. I don't really blame her for her turn of thoughts though. She is raised in a neglected yet political situation, with a neglecting father and an absentee stepmother; and always always sneered at and judged based on her looks by even the servants. Anyone in her place would develop a thick armor around herself, her heart and feelings, to protect herself. I really loved her climactic scene though. It was almost (but not 100%) unique and smartly sketched as Miryem's climactic scene.

As for Stepon, Mirnatius, and Magreta, they were only filler narratives for the aforementioned three ladies. I loved how distinctively Stepon's POV was, truly as if written by a 12 years old.

As for the rest of the cast, I hated the Staryk King for about 75% of the book. He is a misunderstood character actually, and you'll find out how his thematic principle aligns and resembles and parallels with Miryem's thematic principle.

I really loved the couple banter scenes between Mirnatius and Irina, and Miryem and the Staryk king. Especially the latter, for they came off as more entertaining and hilarious to me. Naomi Novik knows how to make them tick.

The only one complain I got for this book (but not big and effective enough to affect to my review of this book) is if only the POV were pointed out. Like "Mirnatius" before his POV parts, or "Miryem" before hers. It was really confusing to me at times to adjust to the POV out of nowhere. Wish the author had done that.

But overall, this book isn't a mere magic and mage book like UPROOTED was. It has got a heavier theme and an equally fitting execution of real life historical events. It is much more political than magical and fantastical (don't worry, it got plenty of supernatural creatures and magic too). Through the fantastical creatures and elements, Ms. Novik shows us a deep underlying theme, a theme that I hope will make you think and empathize as it did to me. This is a beautiful book on its own and much more meaningful than a lot of recent fantasy books I've come across. I'd strongly strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read fantasies who capture essence of the real world.
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Rating: 5/5 Stars. 


 What can I say about Spinning Silver that hasn't already been said? I was lucky enough to receive an e-ARC of this novel through Netgalley, and this review is late coming but long deserved. An appropriate mark of the end of my blogging hiatus, I think. 

 Anyway, I better start with my review! Uprooted quickly grew to be an all-time favourite of mine; it's a wonderfully lyrical, mystical and fascinating book with a very solid plot consistent with the experiences of the characters and the world in which it's set. So finding out Novik was going to write another retelling I genuinely knew I was basically waiting for the release of a new favourite. I wasn't dissatisfied in the least. 

 The characters have clear drives and goals, they are multifaceted and interesting. I loved Irina: she and her Demon-Prince were my favourite couple this book introduced us to. Irina is cunning, masterful, wilful. She doesn't compromise her femininity in an attempt to uphold those ideals: she does not need a sword to be strong and I love that about her. 
That being said, Miryem is also a fantastic protagonist. She's a young Jewish girl forced to take over from her father as a moneylender, because of his soft nature. They have suffered and slugged through life and are punished for their kindness - so she begins to demand what is owed of her. She has principles that come to entirely define her experience of life in this fantastical Eastern-European fairy tale, and eventually we meet the Staryk; a kind of winter faerie people's whose obsession with gold results in regular raids on human towns and villages. 
 The Staryk are a cool bunch in just about every sense of the word. Their Lord too, begins the novel as calculating, conniving and cruel - but his growth as a character still manages to rile up some serious empathy - especially as our understanding of him and his motives develops through the novel. 
 Wanda too is a pretty interesting character, but of the three women Spinning Silver centres, I have to admit she is my least favourite. Not because she's poorly written, or even that there's anything that I particularly dislike. I just have so much love for Irina and Miryem that there wasn't enough left for dear Wanda. She's a freaking bad-ass though; and I loved her character's development. We see and experience Wanda learning about the world in such a unique way - and as the eldest sister of two brothers I really resonated with her relationship with her siblings.

 The plot is a slow burner; so if that isn't your thing you should bare that in mind if you're going to dive in with Spinning Silver. It took me a few sit downs to get through it all: one because I wanted to really have the chance to absorb what I was reading without wolfing it down and then forgetting half of what I read, but also because Novik has a very specific writing style that doesn't really lend itself to quick and easy binge reading. We have a lot of different points of view; so if you're looking for a single narrative book this isn't the one for you. I liked that it's written in first person; Spinning Silver feels like a fairy-tale right down to its bones - but framing it that way almost makes it feel for Miryem, Irine and Wanda especially, that they are almost given the opportunity to tell their stories on their own terms. In a number of ways these women have their agency taken from them by the characters that appear on the page; by parents and neighbours, captors and demons. I like that the undercurrent of the book is the busiment of these women: the way they spin this story is just as important as the events we see unfolding before us.
 The plot picks up speed maybe two thirds of the way into the book; there's a lot of exposition and courtly politics involved in the first half, and whole both have there merits there are some really strong sections in the final half of the book. I loved the Jewish wedding scenes, and Irina's final scene in the novel is one of my all time favourites. 

The world is vivid; Novik's description of place and setting continue to dazzle and inspire. You almost want to shiver yourself, as the characters trek through the treacherous cold. I loved the concept of the little witch's shack; a place that exists in two worlds at once. It's the sort of dingy, magical hovel I would have dreamt of living in as a kid. This mysterious Baba Yaga figure appears in both of Novik's retelling fables; I wonder if we can ever expect a story like that from her? I know I'd eat it up that's for sure. 

 Now it's not up to me to review the Jewish rep in this novel, and there's quite a bit of antisemitism so worth baring that in mind if it's a trigger point for you. I personally think the novel broached the subject in an interesting way. We see how the antisemitic attitudes of the people Miryem encounters effects her, we see how she explores her approach to combating it, and ultimately it's just pretty darn cool to have a Jewish main character on such a high profile Big5 release. I know Novik is of Lithuanian Jewish descent so it's been captivating to see her creative approach to her family's historical experience of oppression and prejudice. Especially since this is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, and the original story is renowned for its use of antisemitic tropes. Miryem herself references the tale; citing it's undercurrent as a story about escaping the promise of what is owed, and villainising those who are doing little more than claiming what is already theirs.

 Spinning Silver is a fascinating read. I loved every second of it, and I'm glad the companion to Uprooted truly does live up to its predecessor's legacy. I hope Novik once again revisits her penchant for spinning reworked fables. I can't wait to see what comes next.
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I received this book as an ARC from the publisher on Netgalley. 

Sadly the story and I did not get along and I DNFed it at 80%.

We follow Miryem, the daughter of a moneylender. As it turns out, she is better suited for this kind of work than her father so she takes over for him and she soon becomes known for being able to turn silver into gold. Her reputation draws the interest of a dangerous creature. 
Aside from Miryem we also have other POV characters, and there are quite a few of them. In regards to that, I was bothered that some of them appeared rather late in the book and sometimes we would also read about the same event from multiple POVs, which I found annoying. 

The pace is slow, especially at the beginnning, but the story finally picks up at about midway through the book. 

Throughout the book I kept hoping that the story would pull me in, but almost at the end, I finally gave up. It seems that retellings simply aren't my thing.
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A lovely and lyrical adult fairy-tale re-worked from Rapunzel.  You ca feel the finger-numbing cold in each page.  The writing is so evocative and you lose yourself in this fantastical world.  Beautiful.
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Please note that this book is not for me - I have read the book, However I had to DNF and because i do not like to give negative reviews I will not review this book fully - there is no specific reason for not liking this book. I found it a struggle to read and did not enjoy trying to force myself to read this book.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused and thank you for the opportunity to read this book
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Miryem's father might be one of the worst moneylenders of all time. While the people of her village have food on the table, Miryem's struggle to survive as her father has trouble collecting debts until she decides to take control and soon, the money is flowing. But this attracts the attention of the Staryk fairy king who heard Miryem can turn silver into gold and now wants her as his queen.

Naomi Novik has a way of weaving fairy tales we all know and love with a fabulous Russian twist, and presenting them to us in an illuminating new light. Just like Uprooted and Sleeping Beauty/Rapunzel, Spinning Silver takes what we know about Rumpeltiltskin and makes it even more magical with a fantastic female lead. 

I loved how female-driven this book was from Miryem to Irina and Wanda, as well as Miryem's mother and Irina's carer. This book truly shows women rising from the ashes and becoming forces to be reckoned with and I really enjoyed reading their character progression from young girls to powerful women in their own right. Miryem is also clearly stated to be Jewish in this book, and though it doesn't appear that the book is set i our world, it almost feels like it could be because of how Miryem talks about her Jewish heritage and some of the terrible history her people have had to go through.

I loved the Staryk and it was almost weird and wonderful how everything about them screamed ice and silver. I really could imagine the Staryk kingdom as some amazing ice wonderland that is both dangerous and beautiful.

There were parts of this book that felt very long, and there were other parts I wished would have had a bit more attention put to them by the end. I would have liked more emphasis and growth in Irina's relationship with the Tsar which while bubbling with sexual tension, didn't exactly feel full of romance either. I did love all the interactions and scenes between the two though.
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I thought I had already left a review so because this is older I'll be brief: I adore this book and recommend it (and all Novik's work) constantly to my customers.
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Spinning Silver was one of my favourite books of 2018. It's a beautifully written, complex and deeply magical story. A loose retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, this dark story is a layered exploration of fear and magic. There are three main female characters and I loved each of them completely. I was just blown away by Naomi Novik's skill as a storywriter.
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I don’t read fairy tales often.
There’s just something about them that I don’t particularly enjoy. Maybe it’s the story that I already know, the characters I’m already familiar with. However, the ones I have read and loved are the ones that are different. Either the story is so far removed from the original that it doesn’t feel like the same fairy tale (Cinder by Marissa Meyer). Or, the characters are so different from their fairy tale originals that it feels like a whole new cast of characters (To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo).

Spinning Silver was actually a story that, while I knew was a fairy tale retelling, I had no idea what the story was. It’s the story of Rumpelstiltskin, in which I decided not to Google until after I’d read it to avoid any potential spoilers. But it meant that it was like reading a whole new story with a fantastic setting and new characters to fall in love with.

Unless you’re not British or not in Britain, it’s been hot. And I’m not talking a pleasant summer; I’m talking months of wanting to climb into your freezer. I sat in air-conditioned cafes for hours, took 3 cold showers a day, sucked on ice cubes like they were Werther’s Originals. Spinning Silver came through the door just as the UK decided it wanted the nickname ‘the hot fires of Hell’.

Spinning Silver is one of those fabulous books that works for both extremes of weather. You can read it in the winter, when you’re all cozied up in your fluffy socks and drinking hot chocolate. Or, like I did, trying to picture myself rolling around the snowy village that our three protagonists lived in.

And it certainly worked. I stopped dying from the heat every time I read a chapter!
Unlike Uprooted, Spinning Silver took a little time getting my attention. For a good 150 pages, we are given exposition and weirdly simple sentences. An example would be ‘I walk out the house and then I pick up the logs and bring them back into the house’. It took me a little longer than usual to realise that this character in particular is supposed to sound like this due to lack of an education. It seemed really obvious after said character started calling basic mathematics ‘magic’.

Nothing much happens during these chapters. But this was nothing compared to the switching of narratives without any notification of it happening. Considering the first two narratives we get are two girls, living in the same village, interacting with the same people, my mind started spinning. Thankfully, after complaining about it on Twitter, I got used to it.

But then more narratives came. And more, and more, and MORE until we got six. SIX.
I have a feeling not stating the change in narrative with the character’s name is more of an editing faux pas instead of Novik. Just because it seems a little weird that that would be an ~artistic direction~ that she would want to take. It didn’t serve any reason to not state who’s talking, and I don’t think I’ve ever come across this in another book before. It’s certainly not a deterrent, but it’s something to consider before reading. PREPARE YOURSELF.

Once you get over not knowing who’s narrative you’re reading straight away, Spinning Silver is an epic tale with perspectives from the peasants of the village to the rulers of the land. I loved the twists and turns and how each character has an important story to tell, although if some got lost in edits, I wouldn’t have minded.

I still gave Spinning Silver five stars despite it not being the same five stars as Uprooted. Uprooted is so special to me. I think to so many others too, but Spinning Silver feels a little different. It’s still an incredibly epic and eerily creepy tale that also felt largely historical. But while it was cold and creepy and epic, it didn’t feel entirely magical as Uprooted did. Whether it was the character’s reaction to it or the way it was described, it didn’t feel like a shocking presence. Magic existed. People coped.

But I don’t think it takes away from the story, it somehow feels right. What we got instead was a tale of the people, of the time period, and characters that fleshed out the culture more than just one character could.
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Similarly to Uprooted, Naomi Novik uses a well-known tale in her Spinning Silver. At first look, she borrows the basic of Rumpelstiltskin to her book but we can already see at this point that it won't be a simple retelling. Novik only uses some elements of the tale, for example, gold-making with an interesting twist, a Jew girl is who makes gold from everything. Moreover, Novik willingly evokes different kinds of tale features and well-known story elements from folk tales (e.g. Beaty and the Beast is in parallel with Miriam and the Staryk king). And as a unique essence, she also recalls some motives and characters from the Slavic folklore. So there are so many things to discover if you are a tale-fan. 

But not these pieces of her novel are interesting but the way she changes the well-known tales. For instance, I really liked how Novik represented characters from different social classes. A poor girl from the countryside and lonely princess were not just empty phrases but really hard situations which you can relate to easily. 

Sometimes the flow of the story is not as strong as at the very beginning but it does not disappoint me. Altogether it is a good book which I recommend every person who loves tales and magic and interesting female characters.
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Uprooted is one of my all time favourite books so you can imagine how excited I was when I found out she was writing another story in a similar vein but this time inspired by Rumpelstiltskin instead of Beauty and the Beast. I had incredibly high expectations for Spinning Silver but if anything it was even better than I'd hoped it would be.

The story is told from multiple points of view but the three main characters are Miryem, Wanda and Irina young girls with very different stories that all tie together in some way. Miryem is the daughter of a moneylender but although her father is happy to lend people money he finds it very hard to get people to pay him back. Life is tough for their family, food is scarce while people who have borrowed money from them seem to have more than enough to go around so Miryem decides to take matters into her own hands and take over the payment collections. It turns out she has quite a head for business and when she gets a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold she catches the attention of the Staryk King her life gets more difficult than ever.

Wanda is from a poor family, her mother died in childbirth and her father is a drunk but she does her best to look after her younger brothers and keep things going. She's horrified when she hears her father planning on selling her into marriage so when she's forced to work for Miryem to pay of her father's debts instead she's thrilled to delay an unwanted marriage. Especially when she realises that earning a wage may enable her to create a much better life for herself and her brothers.

Irina is the daughter of a duke so she has led a sheltered and privileged life but things change when her father comes up with a plan to marry her off to the tsar. When Irina catches the eye of a demon she realises she is in mortal danger and if she doesn't come up with a way to thwart him then the entire kingdom is in peril.

Spinning Silver is a fantastic tale and a perfect read for the winter months when you're wrapped up warm inside in front of a fire. Just like Uprooted it feels like an old fashioned fairytale, one that people could have been telling for centuries, but at the same time it's a new and fantastic take on the idea of Rumplestiltskin. One of the things I loved most was how strong all three main characters were, they're living in a time when women had very little in the way of rights but they all manage to take control of their own destiny and choose a future for themselves. There are so many layers to this story and Naomi Novik very cleverly takes each separate storyline and weaves them together into something magical. It's hard to decide which of these two books I loved the most but one thing for sure is that they've both earned a spot on my favourites shelf. I'm really, really hoping that the author will write more of these fairytale style books in the future because the first two have been absolutely fantastic.
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*I received this ARC via netGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Oof this was a hefty book, it kind of just kept going. I loved the Eastern European fairytale setting and the magical aspects of this were really interesting, however all the different POV's were a bit overwhelming and meant things became very cluttered, and I found myself going oh here we go, another one, whenever a new POV was introduced. I really wanted to like this more than I did but somehow I just didn't love this and wished it were shorter also.
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This should have been an easy win. I loved Uprooted and Spinning Silver revolves around the stories of three strong women; Miryem the determined money-lender’s daughter who takes on her father’s clients AND the ethereal Staryk, Irina the plain daughter of a Duke betrothed to the beautiful but ruthless and inhuman Tsar, and Wanda, the abused daughter of Miryem’s debtor. Add to this the mixture of fairy-tale (Rumpelstiltskin with more than a hint of the Snow Queen) and fantasy-Slavic setting and I was unbelievably excited. So why did it fall flat for me?

For one thing the 480-ish pages felt endless. The pace dragged for large sections and this increased as it went along, the writing and plotting seemed to bloat and unravel so that I found my interest waning as the story lost momentum. And then, after all of the build-up, the finale was wrapped up with undue haste.

Adding to bloated feel was the plethora of viewpoints. Not only Miryem, Irinia and Wanda (obviously all essential) but also various other more peripheral characters. While this occasionally gave new insight it mostly served to slow the plot even more, removing the reader from the centre of the action (and there are three to keep up with!) and sacrificed any tension that might have been building.

My lasting impressions, however, was my irritation at the ending. The final conflict was brilliantly constructed, drawing together many of the threads laid earlier in the story. The co-operation between our three heroines, each with their own motivations, was excellent. What followed, i.e. the resolution of the relationships between Miryem and the Staryk King and Irinia and the Mirnatius, much less so. The happy endings for the two couples fell flat because there was so little emotional development for them to stand on. I had a little more sympathy for Mirnatius, after all Irinia had fought and rid him of his demon. If a woman can fall in love with her rescuer (so often in fantasy) I suppose it’s viable for the man to do the same. The real problem was Miryem. She’s such a complex character and I loved that there was real darkness in her, a ruthlessness that she overcomes, but not without a struggle. For her to leap from grudging respect for the Staryk King to love in just a few pages was so out-of-character that I hated it. A hint that their rapprochement might ONE DAY grow into affection would have been enough, and more than enough.

In the end I was frustrated by the idea that a stronger, shorter, better story was buried beneath unnecessary bloat and tainted by clichés and the haunting feeling that Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy does similar things, but much better.
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I haven’t read Uprooted by Naomi Novik so I totally read Spinning Silver on the back of other people’s hype, and I’m so so glad I did. It’s a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, with elements from other fairytales drawn in, making it a spectacular read.

This will be a spoiler free review, and you can read Spinning Silver without having read Uprooted! Trust me, you want to read this book. I couldn’t stop reading it until the end.


 

I haven’t read anything like Spinning Silver, honestly, and it blew me away. Not just the story but the writing style, it was delicious. Naomi Novik is truly a genius! I’ll be honest, I’m not overly familiar with the Rumpelstiltskin story, other than what’s in Once Upon a Time… so I can’t really comment on how she retold the fairy tale. However you can really feel various aspects of fairy tales brought into the narrative and they all wove together seamlessly. It keeps you reading right until the end.

So this story is told from different character’s POV. It was amazing how their narratives were woven together and they spun closer and closer together as the story went on. I didn’t think all of them were of equal value, however, but all just as enjoyable.

The ‘lead’ in the story is Miryem, who is the daughter of a terrible money lender. Through her we meet Wanda, who has lead such a hard life. We then meet Iriyna, the daughter of the duke. Though she lives a rich life, she equally suffers hardships and faces challenges. I won’t go into more detail as I really don’t want to ruin it for you!

Underpinning all their narratives is the Staryk. They are a fantastical race who live in an alternate land and seem to be made of ice. They are magic and are ruled by the Ice King. I really loved hearing about them, though I could have done with hearing more! They are so fascinating, and though they seem to be the bad guys at time, it really makes you think about how there are really two sides to all stories.

Despite the multiple POVs it doesn’t get confusing, it’s done so well.
 
Miryem. I loved how she took on the role of the bread winner in her family, despite even her parents’ disapproval. It made my heart warm that despite the fact that everyone had this idea that a woman shouldn’t be ‘cold’, she continued to do the hard work her father couldn’t. Her development was so interesting, she went through a number of moral twists and turns before the end of the story. Her struggles, both physical and mental were believable and I felt them with her.

Other supporting characters I really enjoyed were Iriyna and Wanda. Both Iriyna and Miryem were strong women who don’t put up with the shit that’s dealt to them, especially shit from men. It’s really heartening to see such strong women in a novel. Wanda too, though in a different way. I don’t want to say too much about her story so I don’t spoil.

The Staryk King was super interesting, there was way more to him than meets the eye.

This book really had so many important characters, like the Tsar, who is also going through some things which adds another layer to the story entirely. Again, I won’t say too much
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I really wanted to love this book. It was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. 
It's a smart re-telling of the famous Rumpelstiltskin. It started really strong with a dual perspective story telling between two strong female protagonists. It's enriched with magic, very enchanting atmosphere setting, cruelty, survival, and more.  I really liked the two characters, Miryem and Wanda being very different from each other and their intercepting lives. The first 30% of the book was captivating with the description of the harsh wilderness, the food, the story of survival. I really enjoyed it.
Afterwards, we're introduced to another female character, Irina. By that time, the story started to fall flat, there wasn't a 'wow' factor coming from the character development or the story. Some chapters and conversations felt forced, like it wouldn't matter if it was there or not. To my surprise, as we moved on, more and more characters got involved.
It's not only there were too many characters telling different parts of the story, it was also the execution. These characters were brought without and introduction, or were not developed afterwards. The chapters were short that I couldn't get attached to them and care for them. At some point, I didn't know who was telling the story in that chapter, as Novik didn't give a sign. So, you'd read a few paragraphs without knowing who's talking. This change in POV is symbolised by the Spinning Silver icon, but it really did nothing other than creating confusion and extra brain work for the reader.
Novik had all the ingredients of a magical book, but mixed them up in a way that didn't deliver the satisfactory result. Spinning Silver had a very good start, but fell short of my expectation as Novik focused on creating too many POVs in expense of the plot. Inevitably, the end was rushed as well.
Still, I gave the book 3 stars, because it started strong. I also admire her imagination and ability to write in an enchanting way. The atmosphere setting was excellent. It's just a real pity it went wrong after a point.
Thanks a lot to NetGalley and the publisher Atom for granting an ARC for an honest review.
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As the wintry landscape on the cover suggests, this is a beautifully written, enchanting and magical story with some nods to the classic fairytale Rumpelstiltskin. I have to admit though that while I did find the writing beautiful and the world the author created incredibly vivid there was something about the story that left me feeling a little bit cold. 

That's not to say the story isn't good, because it is. This was my first book by Novik and I was expecting it to be yet another retelling with a slightly more adult spin but it's so much more. Rumpelstiltskin is obviously the inspiration behind it but Novik has taken the idea and expanded it into something truly her own. There is so much depth and detail it's very easy to become completely immersed in the world she creates. It's a little slow to get going as a lot of time is spent introducing the various characters and their place in the world but once I got into it I was completely captivated. 

This is a story that makes you question everything. There's nothing black and white about the events and the characters face some difficult decisions and moral dilemmas. No one is entirely good and even those who would be considered the "heroes" don't always do the right thing. I actually loved how complex the characters were. This may be a fantasy set in a foreign land but they felt very real and their actions entirely convincing.

The story is told from multiple points of view, something I wasn't so keen on, but primarily from the view of three young women, Miryem, daughter of the local money lender, Irina daughter of a Lord who's scheming for power and Wanda, who ends up working for Miryem. I thought all three were wonderful characters and I loved how well it portrayed the limited role of women in this world and how each of them rises out of the role they're pushed into despite their perceived weakness. 

I loved how strong they all were in their own way but if I was naming a favorite it would have to be Miryem. She makes a lot of mistakes (bragging about turning silver into gold, which lands her in a lot of trouble, for example) but most of it comes from a good place, or at least a place of justifiable anger at the treatment of her family by the town. I love how she isn't afraid to be hated if it means saving her family. I also have to admire how brave and clever she is, she thinks and schemes her way out of whatever trouble she lands herself in. This cunning and pride does however make her a little difficult to warm to. Similarly Wanda's and Irina's meekness and lack of self assurance, while completely understandable, also made them more frustrating than relateable.

As far as the other characters go I did find them intriguing but I'm not sure there was anyone I really cared about. The Staryk king, who kidnaps Miryem, was fascinating but a little too cold, aloof and mysterious to really care about and Mirnatius, the new Tsar who is possessed by a fire demon, did draw a lot of my sympathy (the chapters from his pov were actually some of my favorites) but there's not quite enough of him. There were a few pov's I felt were unnecessary and it caused the story to drag a bit but I did love the various themes the author worked in and how you could never tell where it would go next.

The ending when it comes does seem a little rushed and I thought there were elements which were a little unresolved particularly around Irina but if the author wanted to revisit the world and complete the tale I wouldn't have any complaints.

Overall I would say this is beautifully written and captivating but lacked a little of the emotion I look for when reading. If you love retellings, incredible world building and don't mind a slow pace and complex characters I would really recommend you pick this up.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an ARC. This has in no way influenced my review.
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Where do you even start with reviews for a book you loved so much?

If you know the answer to this please tell me beause this is one of the reasons you wont always see reviews of the books I adore.

Naomi Noviks writing style is fantastic. She had me hooked from page one, just like with Uprooted.

I wanted to know more about each of the characters. I wanted to understand their lives, their choices. I wanted to see the story through to the end with them and for each of them to have a happy ending they deserved.

Miryem and Wanda’s point of views were my favourites which is lucky because they were two of the three main characters.

We did also get to read p.o.v from a few other characters – I really enjoyed Steppon’s because she got an uneducated childs voice down so perfectly. He was so innocent and curious.

Talking about multiple point of views actually leads me to my only complaint of the book!

There was an indication that a point of view change was taking place but never who to and this often left me confused for a sentence or two until I had decoded who was speaking.

Not too bad for our regulars but when someone new had a p.o.v? Oh wow that threw me.

I think this could’ve easilly been avoided in the design of the book but ‘eh I’ll live.

Miryem is the jewish daughter of a money lender who is so bad at his job that they often go starving and cold. She decides she has had enough and takes it upon herself to sort their lives out and changes silver to gold.

Wanda the daughter of one of the families who owe money to Miryem but they’re so much poorer that she is hired to help Miryems mother around the house to help pay off their debt.

It would be incredibly rude of me to not acknowledge Irina too. She really grows into her role of Tsarina, she plots and plans to take down two evils in her life.

They all come from nothing or very little and by the end learn a lot of the world and with help from each other get to somewhere they’re happier and more content with.

This isn’t to say that they dont go through some terrible experiences because they really do.

Some of them being The Staryk King and a fire demon.

The Staryk King is on a path of destruction for humans, of wealth for his Staryk kingdom. And its the never ending Winter he’s creating that causes a lot of tension between the rich and poor.

The fire demon wants nothing more than to eat everyone he wants too. Nothing can stop him. Or can it?

They’re part of the reason the girls have to be brave and cunning.

The multiple narratives and exploring the Staryk kingdom were really something else. They made this book for me. Getting to see this story unfold from many perspectives really helped to understand how much their town (?) needed these girls to step up and be the best and smartest versions of themselves that they can be.

I almost wish the book spent more time with the Staryk’s because their nature and culture were really interesting to learn about.

Is this review and my thoughts all over the place? Yes possibly.

Am I thoroughly in love with Novik’s work and recommend this to everyone? Also yes.

I do think I preferred Uprooted out of the two… But hey Novik remains a must buy for me!
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I cannot review this book as despite asking many times for the download to be fixed, I have never actually received this one.
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