I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Published by Pan Macmillan on 12th July 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings
Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders... but her father isn't a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife's dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers' pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed--and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.
But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it's worth--especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.
Having read, and loved, Uprooted when it was first published (you can find my thoughts here), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Naomi Novik’s latest novel, Spinning Silver. Inspired by fairy tales, with specific influence from Rumpelstiltskin, this is a thoroughly enchanting read.
A Wee Summary
We follow three young women whose paths converge, taking them on dangerous journeys.
Miryam comes from a line of moneylenders – her grandfather is much more successful than her kind-hearted father. Watching her parents struggle, Miryam takes the debt collection into her own hands. Far more ruthless than her father, Miryam makes a success of things, angering the local families and drawing the unwanted attention of the Staryk King.
Using his magical Staryk road, the King begins to visit Miryam so that she can change his silver into gold. As a Jewish family and unpopular moneylenders, the last thing they need is for the community to find out that the Staryk have been frequenting their house. Miryam must find a way to meet the King’s demands in order to save her life.
Irina is the somewhat forgotten daughter of the Duke of Vysnia. Unlike many ladies of her station, Irina is not known for her looks. However, when her father acquires some Staryk silver jewellery for her, its magic captures the attention of the Tsar of Lithvas who takes her for his wife. However, there’s a darkness looming over her new life and she faces a great challenge to not only save her own life but those of her people.
Wanda is another strong female who plays a large role in this novel. Following her mother’s death, she is responsible for her abusive father and her two brothers. When Miryam employs Wanda to repay her father’s debt, Wanda is given a lifeline.
This is such a magical read. Novik’s world building is, once again, stunning. The minute you open this novel, the world wraps itself around you.
There is very much a fairytale feel to this book which makes it feel almost familiar, in a comforting kind of way. Yet it is a wonderful, thrilling and, at times, dark adventure.
While this novel is loosely based on Rumplestiltskin, with reference to the importance of names and the creation of gold from other materials, this really is an incredible story of its own. You don’t need to be familiar with the tale of Rumplestiltskin to appreciate this fantastic novel.
I particularly appreciated the important role that Judaism played in this book, addressing the stereotypical role of a Jewish moneylender and exploring anti-semitism through the pages of this novel.
I love Naomi Novik’s writing style which is so atmospheric, and her storytelling is truly captivating. Furthermore her characters are brilliant, I particularly love her strong heroines in Spinning Silver.
I’m not sure there’s much more I can say about this book without gushing excessively or risking too many spoilers. I really loved this novel; it’s a magical story that transports you within its pages. If you like a good fairytale, you’ll love this!