Spinning Silver

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

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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For some reason this file will not open on my kindle and I will be crying about it forever! Any help would be appreciated!
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Spinning Silver is the second Naomi Novik book I’ve read. I started Uprooted sometime last year but, despite the fact I did enjoy it, I put it down around 50% and kind of just didn’t pick it back up. Spinning Silver was a much better fit for me.

At the root of the story is Miryem: a Jewish, moneylenders daughter. Unfortunately Miryem‘s father isn’t very good at his job, and as much as the town distrusts and disrespects him they also simply don’t pay back their debts. Miryem, during a hard winter, decides pick up the slack and eventually catches the attention of someone she shouldn’t. There are multiple POVs gradually introduced throughout the novel, with two other main characters being protagonists in their own right on a level with Miryem. Wanda, who’s working of her abusive father’s debt’s and Irina, who marries the Tsar only to find out he’s gone secrets of his own.

The three girls fates are interconnected and Novak weaves in lots of different elements: a historical-fantasy version of Lithuania (with Russia and Poland mixed in a little), Miryem’s Jewish faith, the winter fae, Slavic folklore and just a touch of Rumpelstiltskin.

Many of the reviews already available have described better than I can how beautiful Novik’s prose and world-building are — and both are completely stunning — so I’m not going to linger over that. I will say that the settings and societies (at different levels for different characters) are deep and immersive. Spinning Silver is wonderfully evocative, and you can completely and utterly imagine yourself experiencing every single scene.

However, my favourite part of Spinning Silver was the characters. And, as strong as the ensemble is, Miryem, Wanda and Irina are definitely the stars. What I loved most was that, at various point in the story, each one of them is allowed to be a pretty unlikeable character. Miryem has no qualms about chasing her neighbour’s debt no matter what they think of it, Wanda at one point wonders whether or not she should save her brother because technically he’s never done anything for her, and Irina is willing to make very difficult decisions for the good of her people. Ultimately they’re all heroes, but I loved this complexity the characters were given. To have characters making pragmatic choices, taking morally-grey standpoints and sometimes being unlikeable to the reader — while not painting them as the villain — is something I love and few author’s can pull off. Especially for female characters. So few women are allowed to be pragmatic and unlikable without being evil or the bad guy.

I loved seeing how these three clever, conflicted and complicated women grew and interacted with one another. This sort of realistic and romanticized female character is something I’m always looking for in stories, and Spinning Silver delivered with a vengeance.
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Glittering fantasy rooted in the real. 4/5 stars.

I jumped at the chance to read Spinning Silver after being impressed by Novik’s last novel: Uprooted. Everything I enjoyed about that book is present in her latest offering, and with Spinning Silver I think she’s improved on many of the strengths of her previous story.

Spinning Silver is an imaginative take on the Rumpelstiltskin story we all know, but while readers will recognise elements from the traditional tale, this is an original and expansive story which marries the most fantastical tropes (demons and magic mirrors to name two) with issues that are sadly all too realistic (including domestic abuse and antisemitism).

Novik takes the fairy tale and right from the off she uses it in ingenious ways to relate the story of three young women and their families. Her narrative is told from various viewpoints, but we see events mostly from the perspective of the three main female characters who are all brave and resourceful. This was my favourite thing about the book: all these women find their gender puts them at a disadvantage, but none of them wait to be rescued and instead use their courage, intelligence and willlingness to work hard to get the best outcome for themselves and those they care about. These characters form a solid, believable core around which all the magical elements are just window dressing.

Although that’s not to dismiss the world Novik creates, which is enchanting in its textures and details whether she is leading us through the country, city or icy other world of the Staryk.

My only criticism is that about two-thirds through I felt the story had grown over-complicated with too many viewpoint characters and subplots which caused the plot to drag slightly. However, this was a small price to pay for getting to spend time with great characters you really root for and enjoying the pleasing twists and turns of the story.

Overall: fans of Uprooted and readers who like fantasy tales to have engaging characters with their feet firmly planted in the real will enjoy Spinning Silver.
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Due to errors from the publisher, I was unable to download this book. Therefore, the review is based on the hardcover copy and not the ARC.
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Advertised as a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, this takes quite some imagination to get the reader to that particular fairy tale. I’m assuming that the Staryk King is along the lines of the Rumpelstiltskin character, except he isn’t some wizened dwarf. In fact, more than one of the characters carries some of Rumpelstiltskin’s traits. 
Miryem, the Jewish Moneylenders daughter (who is actually far better at it than her father), has a reputation for turning silver in to gold, and this reaches the ears of the Staryk King, who demands that she change his silver in to gold. Which she does three times; the consequences of which aren’t quite what she expects. 
Novik writes good female characters, without any doubt. Miryem, whotakes over her father’s moneylending business and saves her family; Irena, the daughter of a Duke, who marries the demon possessed Tsar; and Wanda, the daughter of a destitute, drunk farmer, who by luck comes to pay off her father’s debts by working for Miryem. 
These women’s lives converge to create a bewitching story of real human concerns: poverty, helplessness, strength found when needed, and how important it is to pay your debts! 
I do hope Novik writes more books like this. I’ll buy them!!
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a chance to read and review this wonderful book.
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