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Spinning Silver

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Spinning Silver

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    Because that's what the story is really about: getting out of paying your debts. There is just something about Novik's fairy tales. Something magical, atmospheric and utterly charming. I didn't like Spinning Silver quite as much as my beloved Uprooted - and I'll explain why a bit later - but it still kept me captivated from start to finish. Spinning Silver is a loose retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. I say "loose" because you will recognise certain elements from the original - turning things into go Because that's what the story is really about: getting out of paying your debts. There is just something about Novik's fairy tales. Something magical, atmospheric and utterly charming. I didn't like Spinning Silver quite as much as my beloved Uprooted - and I'll explain why a bit later - but it still kept me captivated from start to finish. Spinning Silver is a loose retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. I say "loose" because you will recognise certain elements from the original - turning things into gold, the importance of names, etc. - but this is really a completely different story with different characters and many new plot lines. There's also not just one Rumpelstiltskin character, as several characters embody different aspects of the traditional imp. I love that it's a very pastoral fairy tale with forests and country magic. The setting of the book gives it a lot of its atmosphere, and it works very well. There are parts that follow the characters through quiet daily farming activities, but there is magic and fear thrumming just under the surface. Blue shadows stretched out over the snow, cast by a pale thin light shining somewhere behind me, and as my breath rose in quick clouds around my face, the snow crunched: some large creature, picking its way toward the sleigh. Miryem is the daughter of the town's moneylender, but she takes over her father's job when he repeatedly fails to collect their debts. Turns out she has a talent for it and she soon finds herself turning more and more silver into gold. Unfortunately, this attracts the attention of one of the Staryk - fearsome creatures who desire gold above all else. I found it really interesting that Novik explored the idea of a Jewish moneylender as Rumpelstiltskin. The traditional story is one where Rumpelstiltskin aids a woman in spinning straw into gold and she refuses to hold up her side of the bargain. Interestingly, it is Rumpelstiltskin who is viewed as the greedy villain. Antisemitic interpretations of the story shed a completely new light on it. Though it was unlikely the intention of the original, as the folktale predates any record of antisemitismm by about 2000 years and predates the idea of the Jewish moneylender by even more, many believe that more modern Rumpelstiltskins were deliberately made to represent Jews. Novik, who is herself of Lithuanian-Jewish descent, uses this to challenge the Jewish moneylender stereotype and explore the antisemitism surrounding it. It's clever, and I loved it. In some ways, it is a smarter book than Uprooted, and yet I didn't like it quite as much because parts of this were definitely convoluted. What I've explained above is just a tiny portion of the plot. There are other supporting subplots involving a noblewoman marrying a tsar possessed by a fire demon, and a poor farm girl and her brother running away from a crime. Then there's the whole tale of the ice king and answering three questions every night. “Thrice, mortal maiden,” in a rhyme almost like a song, “Thrice you shall turn silver to gold for me, or be changed to ice yourself.” I counted no less than six different perspectives - honestly, I may have missed someone - and you have to learn the symbol/image for each character, as that is the only way you'll know whose point-of-view the book has moved to. Though I appreciate books with multiple layers and complex plots, I think shedding some parts of this would have only benefited it. Some chapters lean away from complex and interesting, and toward dense and confusing. That being said, I still recommend it if you enjoyed Novik's Uprooted. It's a fascinating, exciting fairy tale with a whole lot of atmosphere and charm. And creepy secret worlds on the other side of mirrors(!). I hope Novik writes more of these books soon. CW: Domestic abuse (physical; non-sexual); antisemitism. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 4 out of 5

    Em (RunawayWithDreamthieves)

    I'm officially giving up personhood to become the ghost of a tormented poet in love with melancholy who sits on patches of moss in the moors and recites bad poetry about how amazing this book is! I love this book so much—the kind of love that is peculiar to inhabiting the perspective of young women with agency and the relationships they form when relying on each other. I honestly feel like I should have experienced this book in some beautiful rose garden under the stars on the biggest bed with si I'm officially giving up personhood to become the ghost of a tormented poet in love with melancholy who sits on patches of moss in the moors and recites bad poetry about how amazing this book is! I love this book so much—the kind of love that is peculiar to inhabiting the perspective of young women with agency and the relationships they form when relying on each other. I honestly feel like I should have experienced this book in some beautiful rose garden under the stars on the biggest bed with silk sheets, laughing maniacally as I burn letters from ex-lovers and eat green tea ice cream with a tiny spoon. That’s how much iconic it was. So, what's this book about? “So the fairy silver brought you a monster of fire for a husband, and me a monster of ice. We should put them in a room together and let them make us both widows.” Spinning Silver is a brilliant subversive take on the fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin cobbled together with elements of Eastern European folklore and uniquely entwining glistening strands of magic, myth and mystery. Deftly woven into the fabric of this story are the lives of three young women: Miryem and Irina whose fates seem sealed to a stifled existence and a loveless marriage, and Wanda to likely the same, but with a good deal more damage from her father done to her along the way. Their lives become intertwined by fate, their weariness of the men who tried to force their heart somewhere it didn’t belong and of thinking themselves odd because it didn’t fit there, and their desire to settle into something perfect, without jagged corners to catch themselves on. Miryem—daughter of a Jewish moneylender—whose anger and hurt at the gentile townspeople’s mistreatment of her family fused into something cold and unflinching and sharpened into an acumen for quick, high-yield investments. This draws the avaricious attention of the ice-hearted king of the Staryk who promises to make her his queen if she succeeds in turning his Staryk silver into gold three times over and turn her into ice if she fails. Once Miryem is brought to the Staryk’s world, her ability to spin silver into gold manifests itself in the form of actual intrinsic magic and while she’s trapped filling the Staryk's treasure-chests with the gold they yearned for with so much greed, Miryem must also find a way to break the sorcerous winter before her own world fades away forever. Irina is the daughter of a duke who sought to sand down her edges and mold her into his own desires, pouring out money by the bucketful to her dowry so she would be wife to whoever made him the best offer. She finds herself marrying the tsar himself—the too-pretty son of a condemned witch whose crown was bought by demon-borrowed magic, an evil thing of smoke and hunger that Irina must find a way to not only outwit every day just to live, but also to save her people from its rule. Wanda whose house was a place so direly poor that they ran out of food before they ran out of winter, and drained to the dregs then put down empty by a father who drunk away their borrowed coin until Miryem stood in their half-frozen doorway laying claim to what’s owed to her family. Finding none, she arranges for Wanda to work as a housekeeper for a four-year stint until she pays off the debt. Wanda finds in the company of Miryem’s family a warm and loving haven, away from her violent father and his flaring temper, and quickly becomes a vital member of the family. The stories of these three young women gradually begin to converge and languidly unfold into a gripping and beautifully rendered tale that resonated to my core. I relished every page of this book from first to last. I was hooked, rapturous, wandering through the haze like I have been transported into a fantastical dream. The setting is an enchanting blend of beauty and danger, rendered in languorous and sensuous language. Split between Miryem, Wanda, Irina and then again among other narrators, the leisurely plot flows smoothly and elegantly, weaving all separate threads together with a sure hand, doling out twists and eventually building to a satisfying conclusion. But it’s the craftly-conceived and fully realized characters that won me over. Twining themes of agency and the duality of human nature, this book succeeds in creating refreshingly human and real protagonists and anti-heroes. These characters are both strong and deeply flawed, and they—even more strikingly—embrace those qualities in themselves and each other. I love how Miryem, Wanda and Irina were expected to be pallid and weak, pitiful things incapable of avenging themselves or anyone and only managing to pick up the tatters and mend them into wearable lives, but their unending anger at a world who refused to be exactly, enduringly the way they wanted it to be propelled them be so much more. “Let him think he had me, and could have my heart for the lifting of his finger. Let him think I would betray my people and my home just to be a queen beside him. He could hold my hand the rest of the way if he wanted to, as a fair return for the gift he’d given me, the one thing I’d wanted from him after all: I’d lost even the slightest qualm about killing him.” I also love how we settle very early into a thwarted hatred for the antagonists—the tsar and the Staryk king—only for it to be reshaped and sculpted into the closest thing to empathy and affection there is. I just love how our perception of the characters ebb and flow over the course of the story, as the book provocatively illustrates the multidimensionality of someone considered to be a monster. Everything simple and solid in the characters' lives is made fluid and nuanced by the introduction of their true motives and feelings. And I think anyone would have found it difficult to be clued in to all the secret halls and trapdoors their souls held, and what each one hid and guarded, and not however grudgingly be moved by it. Because this is their story, too, all that had been hidden under flames and rivers of gold. And we’ve seen their journeys begin and end and begin again and we witnessed both the birth and culmination of their adventure, and so, by the time we close the book, the boundaries that barred their way have become thresholds made to be crossed, and we’ve walked with all these characters across each one, glancing back, but always moving forward. “There are men who are wolves inside, and want to eat up other people to fill their bellies. That is what was in your house with you, all your life. But here you are with your brothers, and you are not eaten up, and there is not a wolf inside you. You have fed each other, and you kept the wolf away. That is all we can do for each other in the world, to keep the wolf away.”  This is genuinely one of the best and most engrossing books I've read this year and one you definitely do not want to miss! BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    ARC provided by Dey Rey in exchange for an honest review. “Bring me the winter king, and I will make you a summer queen.” Spinning Silver is one of the best books I’ve read all year. I loved this story with every fiber of my being. And Naomi Novik is a master at storytelling and interweaving stories together. You all know that this is a very loose reimaging of Rumpelstiltskin but I’d say it’s more of an empowering tale of three girls, all on three different paths, all promised to three differe ARC provided by Dey Rey in exchange for an honest review. “Bring me the winter king, and I will make you a summer queen.” Spinning Silver is one of the best books I’ve read all year. I loved this story with every fiber of my being. And Naomi Novik is a master at storytelling and interweaving stories together. You all know that this is a very loose reimaging of Rumpelstiltskin but I’d say it’s more of an empowering tale of three girls, all on three different paths, all promised to three different men, while all being looked over by three different mothers. Three is such a constant theme in this book, too, and it really helps reinforce that this story feels like a tangible piece of magic in your hands while reading. This book is nothing short of a masterpiece. “The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard.” The Three Girls: ➽ Wanda - a girl who has had to be strong, because it’s the only life she has ever known. Wanda has spent her short life taking care of her brothers and trying to please a father who is impossible to please. But that all changes once she is the only way to pay back his debts. ➽ Irinushka - a girl who has been born into royalty but has never known love from her blood family. Irina is still determined to save her people, by any means necessary. ➽ Miryem - a girl who will do whatever it takes to save her family. Miryem is strong, and relentless, and one of the very best characters I’ve ever read in my entire life. And she becomes one of the most feared moneylenders in her village, and she discovers that she awfully good at turning silver to gold. But she is not the only one that notices. “That part of the old story turned out to be true: you have to be cruel to be a good moneylender. But I was ready to be as merciless.” The Three Mothers: ➽ A Passed Away Mother who continues to look after her children. ➽ An Adoptive Mother who has unconditionally loved her child from the start. ➽ A Birth Mother who wants nothing more than her child safe and happy. “A robber who steals a knife and cuts himself cannot cry out against the woman who kept it sharp.” The Three Marriages: ➽ Filled with Hate because even in 2018 some men want to believe that they know what’s best for a woman, no matter the cost. ➽ Filled with Fire because some people are born into a world without a chance, regardless of money, power, and privilege. ➽ Filled with Cold because protecting the thing you love is sometimes something you’re willing to do anything for. “...someone had climbed down and looked through our window: someone wearing strange boots with a long pointed toe.” And these three girls, with their mothers, forced into their three marriages, all come together and create something so beautiful that I don’t even have words to express it. I will say that Miryem is for sure the main character. I will also say that we get to see a lot more points of view than these three girls and their betrothals. And the story is something that is so whimsical, so feminist, and nothing short of an honor to read. Trigger and content warnings for hard scenes to read about loss of a parent, siblings, and death of children, for extreme parental physical abuse, brief mention of animal deaths, mention of past rape, sexual assault, alcoholism, torture, violence, murder, and use of the word Jew (not negatively, but it still didn’t feel good to read at times). But one thing I did want to touch upon is how much Judaism plays such an integral role in this story. Miryem and her entire family are Jewish, and from the first to last page this plays a pivotal role in the story. I am not Jewish, but I still loved this inclusion so very much. Also, I’m adding “go to a Jewish wedding” onto my bucket list immediately. To my Jewish friends: please, invite me to your weddings. Spinning Silver is such a love letter to found families everywhere, too. You guys know I love reading about found families, but all three girls in this book are the epitome of found families. Unconditional love is truly the strongest force in this universe, and not only does this book showcase that, it also celebrates that. Overall, this just felt like a story that was single-handedly created for me. From the Staryks, to the Winter King, to the traveling between places, to the so very strong female cast, to the magic, to every single word on every single page. I swear, opening this book felt like magic and I never wanted to shut it. And I know I am being rather vague with my synopsis, but I truly believe that this book is probably best to go in not knowing much, and to just experience this otherworldly story firsthand. Without a doubt, this will make my “best of 2018” list and will forever have a place on my favorites of all-time shelf. Thank you so much, Naomi Novik, for a story I will cherish forever. And that last line will take my breath away every reread. Perfection. “Because that’s what the story’s really about: getting out of paying your debts.” Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bookdragon Sean

    This novel is pure escapism; it is enchanting, mystical and, most importantly, a fantastic piece of writing. I loved it. It’s the best book I’ve this year so far. Go read it! I’m a critic but I found nothing to critique here. And for me that says a lot. I often find it hard just to sit back and enjoy a story without pulling it apart and dissecting all the elements of the book. It’s just want happens when you’re and English student. You consider the characters, the themes and everything the writin This novel is pure escapism; it is enchanting, mystical and, most importantly, a fantastic piece of writing. I loved it. It’s the best book I’ve this year so far. Go read it! I’m a critic but I found nothing to critique here. And for me that says a lot. I often find it hard just to sit back and enjoy a story without pulling it apart and dissecting all the elements of the book. It’s just want happens when you’re and English student. You consider the characters, the themes and everything the writing is trying to convey. With this, however, I was taken away by the majestic nature of the fairy-tale plot. It all just fitted together so perfectly and slid into an ending that left me feeling warm inside. The novel is an amalgamation of fairy tales, all distinctively eastern European in feel, though they are fleshed out and twisted into something resembling a complex and compelling story that is not limited by the standard tropes fairy tales demand. This is not a novel about love; it is one about survival in a cut-throat world where the rich and powerful exploit the poor, weak and helpless. The peasants starve in the winter as their lands are raided by the mystical Staryk whilst their Tsar hordes the entire kingdom’s wealth and basks in his own splendour. He does little to help his own people. As such, people have to learn to survive and defend themselves in an unjust world. There are no heroes, only people who are willing to be brave in the face of tyranny. And tyranny can come in many forms, and often those who are supposed to love and protect us become the worse of the lot. Daughters learn to overthrow their fathers and make their own paths in the world. Miryem learns to turn silver into gold by taking up her father’s money lending business, and eventually what appears to be a natural aptitude for business develops into a fully-fledged magical ability that captures the attention of an Ice King. From here the plot only improves. There are a multitude of characters and point of views though they are all linked and brought together into such a powerful ending. As Miryem is taken back to the Staryk kingdom, the Tsar daemon of rage and fire seeks to melt the lands of always winter. Two conflicting powers come crashing together, as the veil is lifted revealing the truth of a character shrouded in misunderstanding and ice. Just because a people operate in a different way, it does not make them inherently evil. Spinning Silver is so much better than Uprooted because it is consistent; it sticks with the same themes and develops them until the very end of the story rather than shifting into a radical new plot line half-way through the story. As such the magic begins on the very first page and stays until the very last- I highly recommend it!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more

    4.5 stars I’m. Just. SO. Happy. This is completely different from UPROOTED. Kind of. It’s still a fairytale-like story, but it’s wholly unrelated to the Dragon and Agnieszka. There are no awesome tree people. There’s no wooden Kasia or royal orphans or upstart wizards. There are awesome some-other-kind-of-people who may or may not be wintery in origin. And a not-so-awesome demon. And not one, not two, but THREE new heroines, all hampered by expectations, all saying, EFF that, RAWRRR. Full RTC.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    All the stars!! Seriously, go read this book right now! Review first posted on Fantasy Literature: It’s not often that I end a novel in awe of characters, the world-building, and the depth and complexity of the themes, while still being absolutely delighted with the storytelling. In Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik does all that and more. It’s my favorite fantasy novel of 2018 so far, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it’s still in that top position at the end of this year. In medieval Lithvas (ac All the stars!! Seriously, go read this book right now! Review first posted on Fantasy Literature: It’s not often that I end a novel in awe of characters, the world-building, and the depth and complexity of the themes, while still being absolutely delighted with the storytelling. In Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik does all that and more. It’s my favorite fantasy novel of 2018 so far, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it’s still in that top position at the end of this year. In medieval Lithvas (according to Novik, a fantasy version of Lithuania with a little Russia and Poland blended in), Miryem Mandelstam is the daughter of a Jewish moneylender in a small town. Panov Mandelstam is a gentle, kindhearted man: too kind to be a successful moneylender, in fact, since he’s constitutionally unable to demand repayment of the money he’s lent out, leaving him and his wife and daughter destitute. When her mother falls ill, Miryam has had enough. A bit of winter has found its way into her heart, and that combined with her stubbornness (and her threats to involve her wealthy grandfather and the law if the villagers don’t repay her what they owe) makes her a success at her new job as village moneylender. Miryem takes on a strong village girl, Wanda, as a household servant, letting her work off her father’s debt. Miryam doesn’t realize it, but Wanda is actually grateful for the chance to avoid her abusive father, and to stealthily put away the extra money that Miryam pays her. Miryam’s parents are alarmed at the increased iciness in her heart, but she has no intention of handing the moneylending job back to her ineffective father. Miryam rather defiantly tells her mother that she shouldn’t be sorry that her daughter has the ability to change silver into gold. However, there’s a magical road that appears and disappears in Lithvas during the winter, controlled by the fae-like Staryk, and other ears have heard Miryam’s boast to her mother during her journey back to their village. Soon she finds herself entangled in the Staryk king’s demands to change his silver into gold. Miryam comes up with a brilliant plan, but meeting the Staryk king’s demands may be almost as bad as failure. (I get a Thranduil vibe from the Staryk king, except ... needs more ice) Spinning Silver begins with these allusions to the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, but Novik is weaving far more into her story than this one tale. Miryam’s plan involves the ambitious duke of Vysnia and his daughter Irina, who is thought too plain to attract the handsome young tsar of Lithvas, Mirnatius. The Staryk silver may tip the balance for Irina, but she soon finds that gaining Mirnatius’s attention is a highly dangerous thing indeed. Irina’s story quickly becomes as compelling as Miryam’s, as she needs to use all her wits and some gifts of her heritage to escape with her life and soul intact. Novik’s unique moneylender twist on the story of Rumpelstiltskin is highly creative. Eastern European folklore is woven in as well. The (literally) icy Staryk king and his winter kingdom called to mind Morozko, the Russian frost-king, and I had an appreciative shudder of recognition when a certain fiery demon is named. (hat tip to Marvel for the Surtur image) Novik takes her story far beyond a retelling or recasting of old tales, though. I particularly enjoyed the fascinating concepts dealing with cold Staryk silver and the warm gold from the “sunlit world.” It played into the plot in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. The sensitive, meaningful way in which the Jewish faith and culture were incorporated into Spinning Silver was lovely. Antisemitism is addressed, but doesn’t weigh down the story. The focus is more on personal connections, like the love between Irina and her old nurse, the understanding and respect that Miryam gains for the Staryk people, and the family bonds that develop between the Mandelstams and Wanda and her brothers. Without tipping over into unrealistic anachronism, we also see women characters who are empowered by the actions they take to save themselves, as well as others they care about, in spite of the fact that each of them ― against their desires ― is promised, given, or simply taken in marriage. It’s a fairly subtle connection between our three main characters. Spinning Silver is an enchanting fantasy, woven of fire and ice, sunlit gold and Staryk silver, icy faerie winter and Lithvas spring. Naomi Novik has crafted a truly wondrous novel. Initial posts: The author of Uprooted strikes again, with what appears to be a take-off on Rumpelstiltskin. Can't wait for July!! ETA: I'm dying here. I didn't get the ARC (the publicist was unmoved by my sad email) and my local library, which I thought would jump right on this one, still doesn't have it in their catalog. I HAVE BROKEN DOWN AND BOUGHT THE DANG BOOK. In hardback, no less. Stay posted!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    No one freak out, but I just thoroughly enjoyed a fantasy book 😍 this was so immersive and well written and I liked it a heckin’ ton!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Helena ✰ FC

    “I am not your subject or your servant, and if you want a cowering mouse for a wife, go find someone else who can turn silver to gold for you.”  This was a buddy read with my elvish friend, Maica! ;) I’m so glad that we decided to read this together! <3 Confession Time: I was a bit scared going into this because I loved Uprooted so bloody much. And how on Earth could Naomi Novik possibly improve upon that pure and utter perfection, which included wizards, royals, tree people, and all sorts of o “I am not your subject or your servant, and if you want a cowering mouse for a wife, go find someone else who can turn silver to gold for you.”  This was a buddy read with my elvish friend, Maica! ;) I’m so glad that we decided to read this together! <3 Confession Time: I was a bit scared going into this because I loved Uprooted so bloody much. And how on Earth could Naomi Novik possibly improve upon that pure and utter perfection, which included wizards, royals, tree people, and all sorts of other fun characters? Well, somehow, unbeknownst to me, Novik managed to do just that! Now this is a faery tale retelling. Naomi Novik might have just shoved Rosamund Hodge to the side as my favourite author, in regards to retellings!!! Now before I get into this novel, as someone who was raised as inter-faith (half-Anglican, half-Jewish), I absolutely adored the Jewish representation in this novel!!! Do you know how rare it is, aside from World War Two or Holocaust novels? With the exception of Simon Lewis from The Mortal Instruments, I can’t even remember the last time that I came across a Jewish minor-character in a series, much less having it be a fundamental part of the story!!! From Shabbat to weddings to prayers, I loved the inclusion of Jewish culture! However, having said that, I would like to point out that there is quite a bit of antisemitism in this novel, as well…So, fair warning, if that’s something that you don’t want to read about. Spinning Silver is an exquisite and atmospheric, pastoral wintery tale told from the perspectives of not one, not two, but three female protagonists, in addition to a few others along the way. But not to worry, each perspective has a very distinctive voice, and I found it very easy to differentiate between them. I also found that the slow pacing of this novel definitely added to its charm, as you begin to anticipate the various storylines finally coming together. Miryem is a young Jewish woman whose father is a rather poor moneylender. He is far too generous, by not demanding borrowers to repay their debts, which is not conducive to putting food on the table. Thus, she takes up his occupation in order to save her family from cold and starvation. She is very smart and shrewd, and is more than happy to strike a good bargain! Wanda is a beautiful girl who comes from an abusive family because her father is a gambling drunkard, who does not contribute to the household at all. He treats his children more like hired help than young adolescents. She eventually finds a positon in Miryem’s household, in order to pay off her father’s debts. She also has two younger brothers, Sergey and Stepon, to feed and support, as well. She is a very strong and responsible older sister. Irina is the unattractive daughter of a Duke. Since her mother was a descendant of the Staryk (elf/fae-type creature) and because her dowry was magical, Staryk silver, she was able to be married off to the reluctant tsar, Mirnatius. She was very caring towards others and thought quite carefully when making very difficult decisions. She is a rather wonderful tsarina, who inspired loyalty in others. As was the case with Uprooted (a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling), this is not a strict Rumpelstiltskin retelling either. In fact, I found references to various other faery tales and mythologies, which was very exciting, considering that my knowledge of Slavic folklore is virtually non-existent. It takes place in a setting comparable to Lithuania, with an unexplained magic system, as is the case with most faery tales. Explaining everything would ruin the spell that this novel shall cast on you! ;) However, if I were being honest, my absolute favourite part of this novel was the family dynamics. There was so much emphasis put on a familial bond. It was so lovely to read about because oftentimes, I’ve found that as stories progress, family members tend to mysteriously disappear or are never actually involved. Neither of which occurs here. I absolutely loved Spinning Silver and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys faery tale retellings, especially ones such as Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale. Naomi Novik is such an imaginative writer, with such a whimsical writing style that I would hate for you to miss it! …Although for the life of me, I can’t understand why it was released in July! :D

  9. 5 out of 5

    destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    I’ve had Naomi Novik’s work on my reading list for a long time, but this was my first time picking up anything by her. I loved the Rumpelstiltskin story as a child, so when I heard that she was writing a retelling of it, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy—and now, it made me wonder how I ever lived without the incredible worlds of magic and fantasy she crafts. I wasn’t sorry they didn’t like me, I wasn’t sorry I had been hard to them. I was glad, fiercely glad. The story alternates perspecti I’ve had Naomi Novik’s work on my reading list for a long time, but this was my first time picking up anything by her. I loved the Rumpelstiltskin story as a child, so when I heard that she was writing a retelling of it, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy—and now, it made me wonder how I ever lived without the incredible worlds of magic and fantasy she crafts. I wasn’t sorry they didn’t like me, I wasn’t sorry I had been hard to them. I was glad, fiercely glad. The story alternates perspectives, primarily between the women in the story, with its focus resting mainly on Miryem (the tax collector’s daughter), Wanda (Miryem’s hired help), and Irina (the local duke’s daughter). Gradually, we also see perspectives from the tsar, Wanda’s youngest sibling, and Irina’s nursemaid, and while the shifts in narrators offer potential for chaos and disjointed storytelling, Naomi Novik shows off every bit of the necessary skill to make it work. They would have devoured my family and picked their teeth with the bones, and never been sorry at all. Better to be turned to ice by the Staryk, who didn’t pretend to be a neighbor. Miryem is by far my favorite character in this story: she is cold, clever, and ruthless when she needs to be, but never without justification, and never unfairly. Her perspective is not only the one I enjoyed the most for entertainment’s sake (especially when she interacts with the winter feyfolk, the Staryk), but also for the empowerment her narrative offers. Miryem’s family is Jewish, and there’s a lot of commentary made throughout the story to remind the reader of the pains Jews have been through and the judgments they have faced, and continue to face, in their daily lives. “My people will go into the flame with their names locked fast in their hearts; you will not have that of them, nor me.” More than anything, though, I think Spinning Silver is a story of feminism and independent, strong-willed women. Each of our three most important narrators suffer under a man who has, intentionally or otherwise, controlled and/or ruined their life: for Miryem, it’s the lazy father who forced them into starvation; for Wanda, it’s the abusive, drunkard father who wants to sell her off for spirits; and for Irina, it’s the controlling, uncaring father and the terrifying man he wants to marry her off to. Despite their respective circumstances, these young women all learn how to work together and to fight their way out of one mess after another. But it was the same choice, every time. The choice between the one death and all the little ones. Beyond the representation and strength, Spinning Silver is just a damn good fantasy tale. It mimics the Rumpelstiltskin story just enough to draw in old fans, but Novik’s writing takes liberties endlessly to make it her very own story. The writing voice in and of itself is magnificent; I found myself highlighting so many passages just because the phrasing she uses and the scenery she paints gave me chills. This is also one of the most atmospheric wintry stories I’ve ever read in my life. “A power claimed and challenged and thrice carried out is true; the proving makes it so.” If I haven’t convinced you yet, I’ll also tell you that there’s a delightful enemies-to-lovers twist (you’ll have to read it to find out which girl it involves, though, because I’m not telling!), sweet families and sibling bonding moments for days, and so much tension that I’m positive you won’t want to put it down until you’ve found out how it all ends. Because that’s what the story’s really about: getting out of paying your debts. Trigger warnings for anti-Semitism, sexism, parental abuse, family death, and alcoholism. Thank you so much to Del Rey for providing me with this beautiful finished copy in exchange for an honest review! You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hamad

    DNF @25% I was so excited for this book because I wanted to read a book by Naomi for so long now. Uprooted is one of the oldest books in my TBR. I didn't know the tale of Rumpelstiltskin so I read it before this out in preparation for this. Then I saw that this was a big book and I didn't know how the author is going to retell such a short story in all those pages. I started this and was a bit confused by the continuous change in POV, I wish that it was written in 3rd Person because it would have DNF @25% I was so excited for this book because I wanted to read a book by Naomi for so long now. Uprooted is one of the oldest books in my TBR. I didn't know the tale of Rumpelstiltskin so I read it before this out in preparation for this. Then I saw that this was a big book and I didn't know how the author is going to retell such a short story in all those pages. I started this and was a bit confused by the continuous change in POV, I wish that it was written in 3rd Person because it would have been better. The story started kind of interesting but it was so slow. This is a loose retelling but I could see what she was trying to achieve. And the retelling of the original series almost finished at the point I DNF at. So I don't know what the rest of the book is about. I lost interest in the story and so went to the reviews to see if others had the same opinions as me but No, I was the only one! I found some 3 and 3.5 stars reviews but no 2 stars, no DNFs so I decided to read a bit more but nothing much happened. I am going to give this another chance after I read Uprooted, although I usually don't give 2nd chances. If uprooted is good then I know I wasn't in the mood or sth like that but if I didn't like Uprooted then maybe Naomi's style just isn't for me!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Novik introduces three daring female protagonists in this clever re-imagining of Rumpelstiltskin. Here is a realm of magic and mysticism, of cruelty and heartbreak, fringed with glittering ice and populated with creatures carved from the wildest corners of the imagination. The initial chapters titillate with high stakes, compelling characters, and enchanting descriptions of warm food and a forest cloaked in snow, but the narrative is soon bogged down by several ruinous flaws. Despite encounterin Novik introduces three daring female protagonists in this clever re-imagining of Rumpelstiltskin. Here is a realm of magic and mysticism, of cruelty and heartbreak, fringed with glittering ice and populated with creatures carved from the wildest corners of the imagination. The initial chapters titillate with high stakes, compelling characters, and enchanting descriptions of warm food and a forest cloaked in snow, but the narrative is soon bogged down by several ruinous flaws. Despite encountering wondrous and unexpected forms of magic, Novik's characters are neither astonished nor surprised. Their flat response evokes a perpetual sense of apathy, a problem that's exacerbated by glacial pacing, further compounded by two of the female protagonists having such similar plot lines as to feel redundant. The final nail in the coffin - or icicle in the heart - is the inclusion of multiple POVs. Novik opens with two primary voices, but more characters are introduced as the story progresses. A change in POV is indicated by an icon of a spinning wheel, but the speaker is not identified and new character voices are dropped without preamble. Not only does this create extra work and confusion, Novik elects to recount scenes from varied perspectives, resulting in even more redundancy. Spinning Silver holds all the ingredients of a magic spell, but the execution leaves one cold and unsatisfied.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    I feel like every month so far I have read a book and said it was my favorite book of the year. But y'all. This is my favorite book of the year

  13. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    I have a great many conflicting thoughts on this. Review to come on my channel and there will be much to discuss at the BookNet Fest Book Club panel for this book this year!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/07/10/... I know I’m in the minority here, but I didn’t love this book. Oh, I enjoyed it well enough, because it’s Naomi Novik and her prose is always excellent, and Spinning Silver was beautifully written. However, I’ve also had enough experience with work (especially with the Temeraire series) to know her books can be very hit or miss. Believe me, I was thrilled when she started writing fairy-tale-inspired fantasy novels, and I 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/07/10/... I know I’m in the minority here, but I didn’t love this book. Oh, I enjoyed it well enough, because it’s Naomi Novik and her prose is always excellent, and Spinning Silver was beautifully written. However, I’ve also had enough experience with work (especially with the Temeraire series) to know her books can be very hit or miss. Believe me, I was thrilled when she started writing fairy-tale-inspired fantasy novels, and I absolutely adored Uprooted, but I just wasn’t as taken with this one as I expected to be. The story of Spinning Silver contains several POVs, but the closest we have to a main protagonist is Miryem, the daughter of a very bad moneylender. Everyone knows her father will let late payments slide, and is too timid to chase down what is owed. As a result, Miryem’s family lives in poverty while her father’s borrowers flourish, until one day, our protagonist has had enough, and she sets out into the village to knock on the door of everyone with outstanding payments. And as it turns out, Miryem makes a rather formidable moneylender. Very quickly, she turns a pouch of silver pennies that her father loaned her into a big bag full of gold. But even more quickly, rumors of a girl who can change silver to gold began to spread far and wide, eventually reaching the ears of the Staryk, cold-hearted beings of folklore who desire gold and riches above anything else. Miryem catches the attention of their wintry ruler, who orders her to transform his vast stores of silver into gold, and in return he will make her his queen. First, I’ll go into what I loved about the book: the atmosphere and folksy fairy tale vibes that bring to mind the dark, mysterious charms of a Brothers Grimm story. If the plot of Spinning Silver reminded you a bit of Rumpelstiltskin, that’s because the novel is loosely inspired by that tale, though you’ll also likely catch snippets and elements from a lot of different fairy tales while reading. One of the most impressive things the author has done here is the way she incorporates these stories and their themes into a new narrative, focusing on relatable and genuine characters while still preserving a lot of the original wonder and magic. This has always been Naomi Novik’s forte whether she’s writing about dragons in the Napoleonic Wars or a persistent moneylender’s daughter from a rural village. Whenever she reimagines a world, she does it in a way that’s rooted in history and folkloric tradition, but the end result is always complex and creative enough to make it stand out from the rest. And now, for the things I didn’t like so much. Unfortunately for me, the second half of this book was kind of a slog. Part of the problem was Spinning Silver wasn’t just a story about Miryem, and over time, more characters are introduced to the mix. I didn’t mind it at first; Wanda for one was a wonderful new addition, and I loved the strength she showed even through hard, trying times. Then there was Irina, a girl born into the royal court, but while she may be rich in possessions, she is poor in love. Despite her upbringing though, she is selfless and caring, only wanting to do right by her people. Later on, however, we also have a few other minor POVs join their voices, and that’s where things started to get a little messy. First of all, I didn’t feel that all these perspectives were really necessary, as overall they didn’t add as much as I would have liked. Second, whereas I found myself completely rapt by the intro and first half of the novel, the rest of it felt convoluted and a bit bloated. Also, the book was probably longer than it had to be, which, admittedly, was an issue with Uprooted as well. The difference there was that I was able to push through some of the slower and more meandering parts, but here I found it was a struggle to even stay focused. It’s a shame because I loved the first half of the book, but the momentum and interest I found there did not extend all the way through to the end (though to be fair, things did pick up again just in time for the conclusion). Like I said, I enjoyed Spinning Silver, but I also don’t think it’s a standout for the genre, especially when fairy tale retellings and stories grounded in folklore are all the rage at the moment, with so many recent book releases that feel thematically and narratively similar. It’s also not my favorite book by Novik, and incidentally, I preferred Uprooted a lot more. Truly, I wish I had loved this one just as much, but I simply couldn’t get over some of my frustrations with the slower, more tedious, and bloated parts. Still a very good read, however, and I encourage you to pick this one up if you are a fan of the author or imaginative retellings.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Roshani Chokshi

    Mwahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!! I read this early!!!!! >:) It’s definitely the spiritual successor of UPROOTED. It has all the heart, family, riveting magic you could ask for, and a gorgeous slow burn/unveiling of feelings that will make you desperate to turn the page and loathe to finish. Also. I loved the ending. It’s definitely up there with top 10 book endings.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robin (Bridge Four)

    Uprooted was one of my favorite reads of 2016, so I was beyond thrilled that Naomi Novik was again going to give us a new fairytale. Spinning Silver has some roots in Rumpelstiltskin but don’t think that means you know how this story is going to go because even though you might see a resemblance this is a brand new fairytale. “A power claimed and challenged and thrice carried out is true” The world for this has foundations from the Jewish culture, blended into a world with subtle magics and a Uprooted was one of my favorite reads of 2016, so I was beyond thrilled that Naomi Novik was again going to give us a new fairytale. Spinning Silver has some roots in Rumpelstiltskin but don’t think that means you know how this story is going to go because even though you might see a resemblance this is a brand new fairytale. “A power claimed and challenged and thrice carried out is true” The world for this has foundations from the Jewish culture, blended into a world with subtle magics and a people from a mystical icy realm who are both mysterious and dangerous. I really enjoyed how Novik blended all of these parts together to give us an entirely new story that feels like it is old and a classic fairytale already. Spinning Silver is a multiple PoV fantasy that follows a few characters as their stories and the world around them grows. Miryem is the daughter of the worst money collector in history. She comes from a very loving home but there is never enough because her father is horrible at collecting from the people who owe. Miryem takes it upon herself to take over the business with a cool detachment that makes her fantastic and collecting coin. So good in fact she catches the eye of the Staryk King who has use for a peasant girl that can turn silver into gold. ← see what she did there “But I had not known that I was strong enough to do any of those things until they were over and I had done them. I had to do the work first, not knowing.” Wanda, comes from an impoverished farm and has never really known kindness. Her father is a drunk and a brute and all she has ever known is finding a way to just get by. You’d think being sent to work for the moneylender to pay off her father’s debts would be the worst thing to happen to her, but it ends up being the best thing to help her and for her to later help others. Lastly is Irena, a Dukes daughter with some Staryk blood in her. She has a treacherous path to take as she has caught the eye of a demon. With her wits about her and help from some unlikely friends she just might keep herself out of the demon’s hands. The Best Thing about this new/old fairytale is that the women in it seemed real. None of them were overly beautiful or fetching, but each had a special quality either with their smarts, ingenuity or just strength of will that made them special. I loved that as we grow to know the characters they become three dimensional and you fall in love with them as other characters in the story discover their worth. The Worst Thing For Me was the very reduced romance aspect of this. There is a little and it is enough to keep me interested and hopeful but in the end I would have enjoyed just a smidge more. But there is some so it is a minor thing. If you like Russian Folklore, Fairytales or just a good Fantasy with a lot of world building aspects to it then Spinning Silver might be just what you need. Audio Note: While I liked the audio of this quite a bit when the narrator changed PoVs inside the chapters it was sometime very hard to tell especially in the beginning. I did like how her accent added to the overall feel of the story though.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    I adored this book so much! The writing is absolutely stunning. The girl power is next level. The atmosphere is positively perfection.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    A lot of these retellings of old myths and fairy tales are hit or miss with me, but I come to you today to tell you that this was not a miss. :) Indeed, nothing was amiss. The combination of several different old fairy tales and the new-norm for Russian-style fantasy hit all the right buttons for me. There was nothing simple about this tale even though we learn, slowly, that the world is not all about hard poverty and abuse and little towns and harsh Czars. That jews aren't necessarily cracked up A lot of these retellings of old myths and fairy tales are hit or miss with me, but I come to you today to tell you that this was not a miss. :) Indeed, nothing was amiss. The combination of several different old fairy tales and the new-norm for Russian-style fantasy hit all the right buttons for me. There was nothing simple about this tale even though we learn, slowly, that the world is not all about hard poverty and abuse and little towns and harsh Czars. That jews aren't necessarily cracked up to fit their stereotypes. But one thing is true. The Winter King can be cruel and harsh, the stakes are often hidden but quite vast, and simple, if powerful, magics are never enough when a Great Working is desperately needed. At least two big stories are interwoven here, between a seamstress who marries the Czar and the moneylender's daughter who gets carried away by the Winter King. No spoilers, but there's a ton of discoveries to be had in each realm and the clash between them is something quite wonderful and amazing, even for someone who has read a ton of fantasy. I can honestly say that Novik outdid herself here. This is a quality myth, newly-owned and told fresh. Do I like it better than Uprooted? Yes. I may have liked the other one better for its subject matter, but this one had a much tighter plot and a more satisfying end. More than this will be getting into deep spoiler territory. Suffice to say, I loved it. :)

  19. 5 out of 5

    mo

    I was afraid. He wore spurs on his heels and jewels on his fingers like enormous chips of ice, and the voices of all the lost souls in blizzards howled behind him. Of course I was afraid. But I had learned to fear other things more: being despised, whittled down to one small piece of myself at a time, smirked at and taken advantage of. Spinning Silver is an absolute wonder. It’s a tale that manages to weave the perspectives of a Jewish moneylender’s daughter (and moneylender in her own right), a I was afraid. He wore spurs on his heels and jewels on his fingers like enormous chips of ice, and the voices of all the lost souls in blizzards howled behind him. Of course I was afraid. But I had learned to fear other things more: being despised, whittled down to one small piece of myself at a time, smirked at and taken advantage of. Spinning Silver is an absolute wonder. It’s a tale that manages to weave the perspectives of a Jewish moneylender’s daughter (and moneylender in her own right), a poor serf seeking escape from her abusive father, and an unlikely tsarina, all while making their points of view distinct, relevant, and poignant. It's a Rumpelstiltskin retelling that manages to stay faithful to a timeless fairytale tone while spinning out the tale into something both refreshing and nuanced. Meanwhile, it features fantastic elements both subtle and intense, ruminations on what makes a family, and great character development. (Okay, so this is really extra, but before I get into the nitty-gritty of my review, I’m gonna throw out a recommended piece of music to accompany this book. I listened to it myself while reading and it just fit the mood perfectly for me. It’s Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12, Movement II. The version I like is by the St. Petersburg String Quartet, but here’s a version that I also think interprets the piece beautifully. Here’s another wintry classical music recommendation, while I’m at it.) I’m an unabashed character reader. Plot aside, if the characters of a book resonate with me, it’s very likely I’ll enjoy it. Thankfully, the characters here hit all the right notes for me. (Just...picture me doing the chef’s kiss thing while reverently saying, “exquisite,” and you’ll have a general idea of how much I loved them.) First off, there’s Miryem. Bitter (and self-awarely so) about the prejudice facing her family as Jewish residents of a small, poor village, she grows increasingly frustrated at the sight of her neighbors borrowing money from her father without ever paying him back. After the situation grows dire and her family lacks the resources to even stay healthy, she takes matters into her own hands and collects the debts herself. Through debt collecting, Miryem meets and hires Wanda, a young woman who fears her father and dreads being bartered off as a wife. I was a pig at the market he had decided to buy. He was hoping I fattened up well and gave him many piglets before it was time to make bacon. Her narrative was deeply affecting, and I loved the way Novik wrote her, with spare but resonant prose. The story also focuses on Wanda’s siblings and how their journey runs alongside that of Miryem’s family. The third central female protagonist is Irina, the quiet and cloistered daughter of a local lord. Irina’s sections were some of my favorites - her wry perceptive voice and her commitment to play the long game against formidable forces (both supernatural and political) were engrossing to read. The magical side of her heritage adds another dimension to her character and gives novel an extra oomph of wintry magic. What I really wanted was the silver necklace, cold around my neck, even though it was brining my doom; I wanted to put it on and find a long mirror and slip away into a wide dark winter wood. Her development throughout the story is A+. Irina is a type of fantasy heroine I love seeing: one who may not be physically strong or exceptional in any particular martial or magical skill, but who nevertheless remains committed to carrying out their mission and following their own internal compass. The novel focuses heavily not only on these heroines, but on the characters surrounding them. Mothers and motherhood receive a large focus, as does the theme of families both born into and created. Through Miryem’s parents and grandparents to Irina’s grandmother figure, Magreta, and Wanda’s relationship growth with her brothers, the idea of family is consistently explored. Also explored is the meaning and value of forging relationships with people initially foreign to a person, of welcoming and sheltering them and showing them warmth. There are men who are like wolves inside, and want to eat up other people to fill their bellies. This is what was in your house with you, all your life. But here you are with your brothers, and you are not eaten up, and there is not a wolf inside you. You have fed each other, and you kept the wolf away. That is all we can do for each other in the world, to keep the wolf away. Another theme that’s emphasized is that of pride and self-determination. While the Staryk king has an ego of truly epic proportions, and while Miryem finds this off-putting and/or infuriating for much of the novel, that pride of his isn’t simply left to lie unexamined. “Lady, I will be proud then,” he said, “and before also; I set no limits on my pride.” Miryem gets her due and then some against this smug af faerie king and gives him the what-for in a way that’s perfect for her character. I loved it, and I loved all the tension created by it. And I’ve gotta admit, I ended up really fond of him in the same slighly-abashed way that I’m fond of the Goblin King in Labyrinth. I know he’s kind of weird and capital-P Problematic, but also, I can enjoy media while being critical of it, y’know? To keep up this wow, Mo, you really liked the themes in this novel, didn’t you? train, I’m gonna mention that I loved the importance placed on the naming of things. Of how giving someone or something a name, or telling a person a name, or knowing the name to call a feeling can give it power. It’s a theme I originally came to love because of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea cycle, and I’ve never stopped loving it since. Now I’m gonna address some stuff that I liked, but that some folks might find off-putting: the pacing. I’ll grant that the opening section of the novel, in which Miryem determines to carry out her father’s debt-collecting and becomes connected to Wanda and Irina, definitely takes its sweet time developing. If I recall correctly, one of my updates at about 100 pages in was remarking that I loved the characters but wondered when the plot would pick up. Funnily enough, the answer was that it would pick up shortly after that, at maybe 120 pages in. That’s nothing to sniff at - 120 pages of a 460-odd page novel is a big commitment to make when a reader hasn’t seen any major things begin to move and conflict with each other. Not every reader will enjoy the slow build-up of character, setting, and circumstance that leads to the narrative pay-off in the latter half of the novel, and that’s perfectly fine. For those who don’t enjoy more slow, contemplative fantasies, I’ll just say that maybe saving this novel for an introspective mood would be a good idea. There’s definitely action in the novel, but it takes a long time for it to pick up and for the story to show its true colors. I don’t even know how to end this review, if I’m being honest. It captured my imagination from its opening and still hasn’t let go of it, weeks after reading its closing sentence. I actually think I’ll try to purchase a copy of the UK edition of this and Uprooted (as I prefer those covers), which I rarely (if ever) do once I’ve borrowed a book from the library. This is just one of those books that strikes a chord with me on a deeply personal level, and I know I’ll love it for years to come. I hope you do, too. Blog | Instagram | Twitter (with no tweets yet, I know, shhh) . . . . Also, lastly: forgive me, I know this review could likely be better. Maybe I should have just said something like “boy howdy i have an assload of page flags suck in my library copy and if that doesn’t mean this is a stinkin’ good book then i don’t know what would” but instead we have this. Idk, my guy. A lot happened today, including me writing two essays (lmao), so words weren’t coming to me super easily by the time I got around to writing this review. But I like to suffer, so I also decided to write this. initial review: i have a lot of thoughts regarding how good this book was, but right now the only words i can string together about it are variations on: - good book, please read - now that's what a call a Fairytale Retelling™ - i can't believe someone wrote not one, but two m/f hate-to-love romances that i like - i love naomi novik i'm also starting to worry that my streak of excellent luck with books lately is going to end. specifically, ending with an ensorcelled monkey's paw cursing me for the rest of my days as punishment for enjoying so many Dang Good Books

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rose (Traveling Sister)

    FRIENDS, I've committed another literary sin. I spent almost the entire TWO WEEKS allotted by my library to finish Spinning Silver, and as it is a hot new book, (BOTM, no less) there were probably lots of my neighbors desperate for me to get my shizz together and read this thing. My sincerest apologies. At least the county has multiple copies. Anyway, where the Hell am I? I try to make these reviews as helpful as possible, but I really don't think I'm suited to review this book. I tried to pay a FRIENDS, I've committed another literary sin. I spent almost the entire TWO WEEKS allotted by my library to finish Spinning Silver, and as it is a hot new book, (BOTM, no less) there were probably lots of my neighbors desperate for me to get my shizz together and read this thing. My sincerest apologies. At least the county has multiple copies. Anyway, where the Hell am I? I try to make these reviews as helpful as possible, but I really don't think I'm suited to review this book. I tried to pay as much attention to the plot as possible, yet I'm sitting here in my flannel pants (as one is wont to do in late July) second-guessing everything that I think happened. And why. And...to whom? *Signals Dear Husband to fetcheth me some Chardonnay* Thank you, Dear Husband. Basically, we start with two young women: Miryem, the daughter of a moneylender and Wanda, a peasant who comes to work for Miryem's family to repay her father's debt. Through various patriarchal fuckery, they and a third girl (Irina) find themselves in trouble. They are locked between worlds and the fate of their people(s) pretty much rests with them. The book is narrated from their perspectives as well as a few others, which is one of the reasons it's a little hard to follow along. One thing I know for sure is that you DO NOT want mystical winter forestboys falling under the assumption that you can turn silver into gold. It's not going to bode well for you or your family or your small village in what I assume is ancient Lithuania. I also know that I'm not a fantasy consumer. HP, Narnia, and some Stranger Things in October. That's about it. I find myself unimpressed by, you know, anthropomorphic flames laughing wildly and sucking souls out of mortal creatures. I just can't get into it. My imagination is pretty much bound to this Earth. That being said, I know incredible language when I see it, and Naomi Novik has really crafted something spectacular here. The prose was savage and ethereal all at once. In fact, at times I found myself looking forward to what beauty the next sentence would hold more than I was looking forward to whatever happened next in the plot (again, soooorrrryyy). "All I would ever be able to do about it was what I'd ever been able to do about it: nothing. Nothing but to catch at those scraps of life when they came, and devour them, and lick my greasy fingers, and try to make life endurable when I had that chance." "My hands don't feel clean, either, after last night. But I won't wash them in my people's blood. And I see nothing else we can do." I mean, shit. Four stars because I went out on a limb reading this, knowing full well that I wasn't the best audience. Even though the plot was a bit convoluted and there were probably 100 more pages than necessary, I think it was a fabulous book for non-fantasy and fantasy readers alike. Basically, if you love language, dynasties, retribution, HOSTAGE CRISES OF BIBLICAL PROPORTION and *shiny things,* you'll find something to love about Spinning Silver. And with that, I'm going to hop off this train and PROMISE that my next review will be more articulate.

  21. 5 out of 5

    ✦ Maica ✦ [mini hiatus]

    Thrice you shall turn silver to gold for me, or be changed to ice yourself. I'm so glad I buddy read this with my lovely friend, Helena! I enjoyed this book even more because I was reading it with you! <3 *sends love* How can I even begin to explain this masterpiece???? Spinning Silver is a retelling of Rumplestilskin. It mainly follows the perspective of three girls, Miryem, Wanda and Irina as they navigate, outsmart and endure the society that they live in. I was mystified by this book. It Thrice you shall turn silver to gold for me, or be changed to ice yourself. I'm so glad I buddy read this with my lovely friend, Helena! I enjoyed this book even more because I was reading it with you! <3 *sends love* How can I even begin to explain this masterpiece???? Spinning Silver is a retelling of Rumplestilskin. It mainly follows the perspective of three girls, Miryem, Wanda and Irina as they navigate, outsmart and endure the society that they live in. I was mystified by this book. It really did feel like you were reading a fairy tale. The world building, the writing, and even the unexplained magic system was very Brothers Grimm-esque. The writing was fantastic. The way Naomi put words together to create this book was amazing. There were even times that after reading a paragraph, I was left in awe with how beautiful it was and I just knew that I had to reread it again. Everything she put in this book was there for a reason. I loved how badass Naomi's female characters were. I enjoyed reading how cunning and smart they all were! They are the type of female main protagonists that we need in YA fiction today. Seeing how much they all grew and developed into the amazing people that they are now filled my heart with happiness. I feel like a mother hen watching over her chicks with how proud I am of them. In the beginning, they were all weak and helpless but as the story moves on they basically thought, "Fuck it!" and fought back. Miryem is my favorite character in the series. She reminds me so much of Lada from the And I Darken series and y'all know how much I admire Lada. There is also a very unexpected romance in this book. I really don't want to spoil people but I am really happy with how everything turned out. But speaking of unexpected things, I was pleasantly surprised with how funny Spinning Silver was! This is a very dark, gory and grim story but Naomi stilled managed to insert bits of jokes here and there that made me LOL. (view spoiler)[bed scene xD (hide spoiler)] Overall, I really enjoyed this book and you can now officially count me in the Naomi Novik fan club!

  22. 4 out of 5

    ☆★Tinja★✮ A Court of Pizza and Laziness

    I don't have much to say; just that it was totally gorgeous 💜 I'm a sucker for books with a fairytale-ish (can I even say so?) vibe to them. I honestly thought the book could have been shorter/ the pacing could have been faster but all in all a 4.5 star read. The writing sucked me right in and I loved all female characters. Such smart, cunning ladies 💜 I wish the ending could have been dragged out more. I WANTED MORE from it :pp I was pretty satisfied still. There wasn't much romance, which some I don't have much to say; just that it was totally gorgeous 💜 I'm a sucker for books with a fairytale-ish (can I even say so?) vibe to them. I honestly thought the book could have been shorter/ the pacing could have been faster but all in all a 4.5 star read. The writing sucked me right in and I loved all female characters. Such smart, cunning ladies 💜 I wish the ending could have been dragged out more. I WANTED MORE from it :pp I was pretty satisfied still. There wasn't much romance, which some of you like, but it left me hungering for more. *slightly grumbling over this* I kinda wished I had saved this for Winter since the book is ALL about Winter. Ahh with some hot chocolate, under a warm blanket and some candles... Damn it...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Monroe

    Do y'all know how long I've been waiting for a Rumpelstiltskin retelling?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rosamund Hodge

    I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH OH MY GOSH

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I loved this. Reading it made me happy and by the end I was positively squealing. I enjoyed Uprooted and I loved this one, so I might actually have to read everything Naomi Novik has ever written. This is a very loose retelling of Rumpelstilzchen which incorporates parts of other fairy tales as well – so I was always going to love it. I am such a huge fan of books written in this fairy-talesque manner and if they then are set in snowy, frozen parts of the world I am in reading heaven. The book’s I loved this. Reading it made me happy and by the end I was positively squealing. I enjoyed Uprooted and I loved this one, so I might actually have to read everything Naomi Novik has ever written. This is a very loose retelling of Rumpelstilzchen which incorporates parts of other fairy tales as well – so I was always going to love it. I am such a huge fan of books written in this fairy-talesque manner and if they then are set in snowy, frozen parts of the world I am in reading heaven. The book’s atmosphere of winter and rural communities and fairy tale was just executed brilliantly and the hints of other stories made me very happy. The prose is stunning and fluid, the world imagined is vivid and wonderful, and the main three characters were absolutely brilliant. Unlike Uprooted, this book is told from multiple perspectives, which I mostly adored. I thought the women at the center of this book were wonderfully drawn and I adored them all for different reasons but mostly for their refusal to be something they are not. Especially prickly Miryem and clever Irina had my hearts. I loved how resourceful the two were with the opportunities they had. I do think that sometimes the other perspectives could have been used more sparingly. There was one scene in particular towards the end of the book where I thought the voice chosen was unfortunate. First sentence: “The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard.” I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. You can find this review and other thoughts on books on my blog.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sh3llraiser

    Blog / Twitter I will tell you right now what prevented this from being a 5+ star review: the pacing. The last third of the book was SO SLOW. The writing is amazing and beautiful, but it got too flowery and descriptive. I did not want to read pages describing a wedding or a bath or clothes, etc. By 400 pages, I needed a resolution. Another issue? We have three awesome female protagonists. Miryem, the daughter of a timid and kind moneylender. Wanda, the daughter of an abusive father who comes to w Blog / Twitter I will tell you right now what prevented this from being a 5+ star review: the pacing. The last third of the book was SO SLOW. The writing is amazing and beautiful, but it got too flowery and descriptive. I did not want to read pages describing a wedding or a bath or clothes, etc. By 400 pages, I needed a resolution. Another issue? We have three awesome female protagonists. Miryem, the daughter of a timid and kind moneylender. Wanda, the daughter of an abusive father who comes to work for Miryem's family. Irina, the plain daughter of a duke who is destined to be married off to a loveless, arranged marriage, until her father uses Staryk silver to change her fate. However, around the middle of the book or so, we get THREE new POVs. One of them I loved: Stepon, Wanda's little empathic brother, who stole my heart. However, I really didn't think the other POVs (one was Irina's nurse/chaperone and the other is the possessed tsar). I felt like those could have been edited out and released as deleted scenes in a special edition or something. One more issue: (view spoiler)[the way the Staryk king suddenly wanted to marry Miryem and turned nicer was abrupt and awkward to me. There was no affection or build up to a proper romance I could ship. (hide spoiler)] So what was great about this? I really liked all the female leads. They were in predicaments and "saved" themselves, were smart, strong, and decent people. I could root for each of them. I LOVED Miryem's parents. Wow, they were SO GOOD and kind. They immediately helped Wanda and her brothers and treated them as family. The scene between Panova Mandelstam (Miryem's mother) and Wanda where they talk about the wolves inside evil men was brilliant emotional writing. "There are men who are wolves inside, and want to eat up other people to fill their bellies. That is what was in your house with you, all your life. But here you are with your brothers and you are not eaten up, and there is not a wolf inside you. You have fed each other, and you kept the wolf away. That is all we can do for each other in the world, to keep the wolf away. And if there has been food in my house for you, then I am glad, glad with all my heart. I hope there will always be." This was an interesting Rumpelstiltskin re-telling. The Staryk were like fae or winter elves and I also loved Tsop, Flek, and Shofer (Staryk folk Miryem met and befriended/bonded to). The author did a great job fleshing out all the main and supporting characters. I just felt the pacing suffered when they all showed up for Miryem's cousin's wedding. It seemed to lose momentum for me and never quite picked up again. Still, I would buy a physical copy of this and re-read it. I definitely liked it much more than I didn't. :)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance

    4.5 Shiny silvers This retelling based of Rumpelstiltskin is a fantasy fairy tale of epic proportions without the loss of whimsical folklore. In a small village in the country of Lithvas lives a Jewish money-lender and his family. They aren’t doing so well. Other families in the town have taken advantage of them and are not repaying their debts. Miryem, the money lenders daughter has enough of it. She decides to go on knocking on peoples doors in the middle of the night. With her new ways of busin 4.5 Shiny silvers This retelling based of Rumpelstiltskin is a fantasy fairy tale of epic proportions without the loss of whimsical folklore. In a small village in the country of Lithvas lives a Jewish money-lender and his family. They aren’t doing so well. Other families in the town have taken advantage of them and are not repaying their debts. Miryem, the money lenders daughter has enough of it. She decides to go on knocking on peoples doors in the middle of the night. With her new ways of business, she is able to turn her families’ financial status around and then some. As she is seemingly making something of nothing, the Staryks’ fairy Lord leaves a small satchel of silver at her doorstep. Puzzled, Miryem has to figure out the riddle of what to do with it. At market, she has a jewelry maker melt it down and turn it into beautiful pieces to resell in exchange for golden coins. As the Staryk comes back for more and more, it becomes an almost unsurmountable task to turn silver into gold. The story is told from three main perspectives. Irina, Miryem’s childhood nurse and Wanda a local peasant girl. As Miryem’s initial success means well for others, it soon poses difficulties and consequences. A challenging balancing act that sweeps across into distant realms of fairy land where Miryem has to outwit the Staryk Lord to save her entire village. *** This novel feels distinctively Eastern European and I loved that. As the story unfolds in the almost 500 page novel, it never loses the intimacy and intricacy of small details. Moments of simple dinners, meaning of family and friendship and an appreciation for the simplest of beauty shines through in several spots of the novel. This may pass by some readers or falls unappreciated under the radar, but traditions, folklore, folktales, fables and myths are huge in the upbringing of little children in Europe and I like seeing that reflected. Perhaps as Mother Goose Rhymes, Dr. Seuss or Willy Wonka are childhood favorites in the US, most all children know the Disney-fied versions of Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel Puss in Boots, Snow White or Hansel and Gretel. And I know that this novel is not for children, but it held it’s intricacies or moods closer to an original. Most fairy tales have dark and sinister parts as in this book as well. There are bleak moments, there are pauses and yes, the book is long. It’s a work of art, very well imagined and although Rumpelstiltskin was used as a base, it still takes the reader into unimagined places and a deep plot. Doing a little research I found this site with a small compilation of tales from around the world. Diving into originals will definitely bring back childhood memories for me. Enjoy  https://www.worldoftales.com/ Further pictures on my site: https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/blog...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always

    This book. THIS BOOK! I love, love, loved it. Normally I would be seriously put off by long-ass books with hardly any dialogue, but THIS FREAKING BOOK WRECKED ME. *coughs* // Okay, coherence, where are you at? // Anyway! I'm just here to casually drop y'all a list of things you're going to adore about Spinning Silver. "The real story isn't half as pretty as the one you've heard." ✨ All the heroines are amazing and strong in their own ways! You will admire Miryem, the stoic moneylender who provides This book. THIS BOOK! I love, love, loved it. Normally I would be seriously put off by long-ass books with hardly any dialogue, but THIS FREAKING BOOK WRECKED ME. *coughs* // Okay, coherence, where are you at? // Anyway! I'm just here to casually drop y'all a list of things you're going to adore about Spinning Silver. "The real story isn't half as pretty as the one you've heard." ✨ All the heroines are amazing and strong in their own ways! You will admire Miryem, the stoic moneylender who provides for her family. You will respect Wanda, who takes care of her two little brothers and is so eager to learn. You will sympathize with Irina, who does what she's told, and wants nothing more than to make sure everyone's safe. They're all so different, but they're all brilliant in different ways. ✨ The men are equally intriguing (although not as heroic). As not to spoil anything, I won't say too much about the creepy evil dudes, except that they're insanely scary. But I WILL tell you that you're going to love Wanda's little brothers. Sergey, the older one, is hard-working, and very compassionate. Stepon, the youngest, is sweet and diligent. Both of them were a pleasure to read about! ✨ All the characters were important! Even the secondary characters played important roles in the story. Some shaped the main characters into who they are, or helped with their growth. Some LITERALLY were essential to the story. And they're all so well-developed--in fact, at some point everyone felt like a main character. ✨ Different family dynamics are explored. Some families are loving towards each other. Some families tend to get violent. And some families are just selfish... Spinning Silver goes through all of those. The thing is, despite how these families are, they're all important to the main characters and their development. It made me so happy seeing another fantasy read where families play a big role in the story. ✨ MAGIC! TERROR! A PLOT WORTH READING! Said plot features the Staryk--creatures of winter who want nothing less than gold, which the moneylender Miryem can provide them with. Of course, a billion problems come to light. Everything's so intriguing, you'll just want to keep flipping pages into the wee hours of the night. I swear. ✨ The writing is exquisite. It was this way even with Uprooted. Naomi Novik knows how to pick the right words. Her writing is just lyrical, and so atmospheric. You'll definitely get the retelling vibes from this! (Yes, total Disney feels.) ✨ THERE'S ALSO MORE AWESOME STUFF I CAN'T TALK ABOUT. *zips mouth* *puts padlock* *throws away the key* MUAHAHA. Actual Rating: 4.5 Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for giving me an opportunity to review this wonderful title!

  29. 5 out of 5

    bran (brandonthebookaddict)

    SCREAMING HOW THE HELL DID I NOT KNOW THERE WAS GOING TO BE ANOTHER BOOK??! IM FUCKING SCREAMING THE COVER *SOBS*. IM SO HAPPY THO ITS EVERYTHI-- 256 PAGES?????! 2 5 6???????????! two hundred and fifty six pages.......????????????! ONLY 256 PAGES NOOOOOOOOOO???!! .... --whatever im still happy as fuck.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. However, my ARC copy would not download onto my kindle, therefore I bought the finished version on release day (mainly because of my love of Naomi Novik’s previous novel Uprooted). This review will be based around that finished copy. There’s something about Naomi Novik’s fairy tales that I find irresistible and evocative. She manages to weave these fantastical tales that are steeped in tradition around grounded and very real women I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. However, my ARC copy would not download onto my kindle, therefore I bought the finished version on release day (mainly because of my love of Naomi Novik’s previous novel Uprooted). This review will be based around that finished copy. There’s something about Naomi Novik’s fairy tales that I find irresistible and evocative. She manages to weave these fantastical tales that are steeped in tradition around grounded and very real women full of life and character, while delicately introducing complicated relationships that capture the very heart of the story so well. Miryam is the first character we’re introduced to. Described as resourceful, shrewd and emotionless in her pursuit of debts, she’s a glorious example of a character who must look inside herself to discover her talents and save herself and those she loves from destitution. She can sometimes come across as standoffish and cold - but I found this the perfect counterpoint to her Staryk king who is so similar to her in personality, yet she can’t see it. Their relationship, at once complicated and hard, is one of my favourite aspects of the book. It was great to see it develop as the story progressed from sullenness to something that could be described as amiable. Irina is Miryem’s counterpoint, the winter to her sun. The daughter of a duke, married to the tsar, she soon realises that there’s more to her husband than meets the eye. She must quickly learn how to be a tsarina and defend her people against a threat much bigger than herself. A threat steeped in fire and hunger. I found her very similar to Miryem in terms of rising to her position as ‘queen’, to discover that she has a natural talent to rule. One that outshines her husband’s. I also enjoyed her relationship with the Tsar, as she struggles with the beast and the man separately. I would have liked to have seen this relationship explored more, as I found it rather complex and politically fraught but I understand the importance of allowing Miryem’s relationships to take centre stage towards the end. Wanda I found interesting, as she’s everything Miryem could have been if her father was crueller and she wasn’t so shrewd. However, her story peters out halfway through the novel and doesn’t really develop the way it could have. I found she’s rather sacrificed in favour of Irina, and her character becomes less important and more unsubstantial towards the end of the novel. The settings and world building also really stand out in the novel, especially the descriptions of the Staryk lands and the harsh winters of the human world. I found myself a little lost amongst the forest trees with the characters on many occasions, willing the harsh Staryk white road into being so I could follow it. I do find it odd that the novel is released in the summer, as this is such a pure winter tale that speaks of harsh frosts and bitter winds. It’s perfect for winter evenings. I will admit that at times I found the Staryk culture a little complicated, with the various concepts of debts and promises and how they must be repaid etc. rather convoluted in their explanations. However, as I was experiencing this along with Miryem it didn’t distract from my overall enjoyment of the story. I was disappointed that there wasn’t an easier way to distinguish between the many characters who tell the story. The ARC copy apparently had symbols to differentiate between the characters, but the finished book did not. This would have been incredibly helpful, as sometimes I struggled to understand who was telling the story - especially as the tale progressed and more characters were added to the roster, and did dampen my enjoyment somewhat. Although this doesn’t quite match Uprooted for me in terms of overall enjoyment, I loved reading this. Naomi Novik is firmly on my ‘must read’ shelf for all future novels and I encourage everyone who loves fairy tales and complex relationships to give this a go.

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