Book: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Release Date: July 12th 2018
Tags: Fantasy / Retelling / Fairytale / Fairytale Retelling / Rumpelstilskin / New Adult / Family / Jewish Woman / Trigger Warnings / Phsyical Abuse / Domestic Abuse / Emotional Abuse
Other books by this author I reviewed
Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father is not a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has left his family on the edge of poverty – until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what is owed, and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. But when an ill-advised boast brings her to the attention of the cold creatures who haunt the wood, nothing will be the same again. For words have power, and the fate of a kingdom will be forever altered by the challenge she is issued.
One of the most anticipated books of the year has to be Spinning Silver. After loving Uprooted so much I really needed to read this. And I didn’t end up loving this as much but Spinning Silver is still a great piece of written fairytale retelling.
As you might have guessed from the title this is a loose retelling of Rumpelstilskin. Inspired more like it as we don’t get any real Rumpels. Just characters that do what they have to do. Miryem takes over her family’s business when it turns out her father doesn’t have what it takes to be a money lender. Instead of getting the money back with interest, they barely have anything and their loaners have all the wealth. Unlike her father Miryem has no qualms about getting their money back with interest. And she does it so well she catches the eye of a Staryk lord. Staryk who are winter creatures…
While the synopsis on goodreads says there are six point of views I feel that the story focuses mainly on three females. Miryem, Irena and Wanda. I found Miryem to be a great breath of fresh air to follow. Like said, she has no problems demanding any of the money back. It is their money and it is their right. She doesn’t feel sorry for any of the loaners but she is fair. And fierce. She is also Jewish and I loved getting pieces of that throughout the book. Wanda has had to keep her head low for a long time but when she is send to Miryem’s family to pay of her father’s debt she flourishes. I loved seeing when she becomes closer to her brothers. Irina on the other hand is a daughter to a duke who is seen as not so pretty. But she is not stupid and when it comes down to it knows how to plot and orchestrate things.
The plot of the book is slowly build up as I expected from this author. We slowly get building pieces, starting with Miryem and then slowly adding in the other point of views so that by the half way point we have gotten all the point of views and have gotten to know them all without being overwhelmed with having 3 main and 3 minor point of views. Naomi Novik knows how to build that up so well.
However just after the half way point I felt that the story started to drag a little, for like a good 50 pages. We got the minor point of views more and I could have honestly done without them. Or at least without Margreta’s (Irina’s wet nurse) and Stepon (Wanda’s younger brother). It isn’t so much that they didn’t add anything (though minimal) as that they slowed down the plot and the story even more. It did quickly pick up after that though once all the lines started to cross into one plot.
The biggest reason I am not a 100% in love with this book however is that I am just not in love with the characters. I liked them and they are super well developed. I am just not in love with them. I also would have liked if Wanda had had a bigger part to play in the whole plot. I felt she kind of got lost in the last quarter. Having said I would love to read more of the young tsar and his demon (though outside of this book and plot) because the snark has to be real there. I’m sorry, it is my weakness.
Lastly I do want to point out that there is domestic abuse in this story, on and off the page.
As a whole though, Spinning Silver is a beautiful crafted piece of Rumpelstilskin retelling that deserves your attention. A story about a cast of characters that come together to save their world and in the process become a family.