“Because that’s what the story’s really about: getting out of paying your debts. That’s not how they tell it, but I knew. My father was a moneylender, you see,” (Novik 3).
I adore fairy tales and especially their retellings. I’ve heard of Naomi Novik’s hit Uprooted and plan on reading it at some point, but until then I’ve fallen in love with her retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, though really Spinning Silver only borrows elements from the story and in many ways creates a fairy tale of her own.
Spinning Silver follows Miryem, the daughter of a moneylender who lives in poverty because of her parent’s kind nature and her father’s unwillingness to collect the debts of his customer’s. But when Miryem’s mother gets sick and she notices her father’s customers ignoring her family’s struggle Miryem hardens herself and collects the debt owed to her family. She becomes hated in their town who say she has a gift of “turning silver into gold.” This attracts the attention of the Staryk King, a member of a group of ice creatures who steal gold, murder, and harass the people in Miryem’s world and who make the winter longer for their own sport. The Staryk King leaves Miryem with a task that ends up involving and effecting Wanda, the daughter of a farmer, Irina the daughter of a duke, and Mirnatius, the young sorcerer tsar who has an interest in the Staryk for a different reason. Their worlds collide into an epic fantasy read that any lover of fairy tales will want to get lost in.
This book is a must read for anyone who loves fairy tales and fairy tale adaptions! The world of Novik’s novel feels like a fairy tale setting, I could feel the characters living their ordinary lives and the threat of the magical Staryk just on the edge of the forest who traveled by on their ice roads, who kill and steal from the people of Miryem’s town. There’s a feeling of fear throughout these parts and Novik did a great job with them.
I loved Miryem and loved her growth and how she took charge to help her family. I loved the magic of Novik’s novel and the descriptions of the snow and ice, which made this book a perfect winter read (especially when the Staryk got a hold of my own copy of the book and wrecked the cover and some of the pages). The descriptions of food made me hungry so I had to make sure to read after I’d eaten so I wouldn’t make myself ravenous. Novik’s words are simply magical and I can’t wait to read more of them.
I would have given this book five stars if it weren’t for the perspective changes. There are so many perspectives in this book that it gets confusing who is speaking at which points. I was okay when it was just Miryem and Wanda, even when Irina was added I thought her perspective added an interesting layer to the story. But Stepon, Mirnatius, and Magreta? I felt that their perspectives weren’t necessary and didn’t add much to the story overall. Again I loved the novel, but less perspectives would have pushed this into a five star read.
But still, Spinning Silver is an unforgettable book. I am in awe of Novik’s talent and can’t wait to read Uprooted!
Publication: July 10th 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 480 pages
Genre: Fiction, Fairy Tale, Retelling, Young Adult, Fantasy
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.
When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk–grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh–Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.
But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.