After seeing Spinning Silver continually popping up on my Twitter feed in the run up to it’s publication I was thrilled to be sent a copy to read and review. It’s been sitting patiently in my TBR pile for a while as the Summer holidays has meant my reading time has diminished somewhat, but having finally devoured it I can’t wait to share my thoughts on this much anticipated novel from Naomi Novik. Many thanks to Pan Macmillan and Jamie-Lee Nardone for gifting me a copy of this book for review.
Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s too kind-hearted to collect his debts. They face poverty, until Miryem hardens her own heart and takes up his work in their village. Her success creates rumours she can turn silver into gold, which attract the fairy king of winter himself. He sets her an impossible challenge – and if she fails, she’ll die. Yet if she triumphs, it may mean a fate worse than death. And in her desperate efforts to succeed, Miryem unwittingly spins a web which draws in the unhappy daughter of a lord.
Irina’s father schemes to wed her to the tsar – he will pay any price to achieve this goal. However, the dashing tsar is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of mortals and winter alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and Irina embark on a quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power and love.
This story initially introduces us to Miryem, daughter and granddaughter of well-known money lenders. However, her family are struggling to survive thanks to her Father’s refusal to call in debts from the local villagers so when her Mother becomes gravely ill she decides to take matters into her own hands, collecting the money herself. Successful in her endeavours she manages to strengthen her family’s position, but in turn attracts the attention of the Staryk King. The master of Winter, this magical, ruthless creature lurks in the forest bringing fear and despair to people across the land as he seeks to fulfil his longing for gold. So, when it’s suggested that Miryem can turn silver to gold he visits and sets her several challenges, each as impossible as the last and even if she successfully completes the tasks her life and those of her loved ones will still be in danger.
As the story progresses we are introduced to a whole host of characters including Wanda, the young girl sent to work for Miryem’s family to repay the debt her drunken, abusive Father cannot repay and Irina, the plain daughter of a Duke with a sprinkle of Staryk blood running through her veins. Whilst the story is told from no less than six points of view these three women are at the heart of this fantastical tale. Despite their differences they are all strong, resourceful women of great integrity and it was fantastic to read a book with such fantastically written female protagonists.
Loosely based on the age-old tale of Rumpelstiltskin, Novik has cleverly interwoven details from the traditional Polish stories she heard as a child to create a fantasy filled adult fairy tale like nothing I have ever experienced before. Initially I found the pace of the story hard to keep up with as it flits between stories rapidly and is it unclear how the different stories are related. However, I quickly got used to Novik’s writing style and loved how brilliantly she manages to weave the different stories seamlessly together.
Spinning Silver is a complex multi-layered story which requires a certain amount of concentration and at almost 500 pages long isn’t a short read, but don’t let that deter you. This magical, dark fantasy tale of sacrifice, power and love had me completely enchanted and clueless in equal measures, unsure where the finale would deliver me. This is the first of Naomi’s novels I have read, and it most certainly won’t be my last as I have already added her Bestselling novel Uprooted to my TBR list after reading such amazing reviews. Highly recommended read.
About The Author
Naomi Novik is the acclaimed author of the Temeraire Series. SHe has been nominated for the Hugo Award and has won the John W. Campbell Award for the Best New Writer, as well as the Locus Award for the Best New Writer and the Compton Crook Award for the Best First Novel. Fascinated with both history and legends, Novik is a first-generation American raised on Polish fairy tales and stories of Baba Yaga. Her own adventures include pillaging degrees in English Literature and Computer Science from various ivory towers, designing computer games, and helping to build the Archive of Our Own for fanfiction and other fanworks. Novik is a co-founder of the Organization For Transformative Works. She lives in New York with husband and Hard Case Crime founder Charles Ardai and their daughter Evidence, surrounded by an excessive number of purring computers.
Spinning Silver is available to purchase from Amazon*