Friday, July 13, 2018

Book Review: Spinning Silver

Author: Naomi Novik
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Del Rey

A fresh and imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale from the bestselling author of Uprooted, which was hailed as “a very enjoyable fantasy with the air of a modern classic” by The New York Times Book Review.

With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.

When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.

But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.

Channeling the vibrant heart of myth and fairy tale, Spinning Silver weaves a multilayered, magical tapestry that readers will want to return to again and again.

Naomi Novik is a master storyteller. Her intricate sentences and melodic musings read like a song and fly off the pages, whisking you into a world that is far different from your own. Both novels I have read by her I would consider to be masterpieces. She creates many characters, three main leading ladies, following many different narratives in one novel, but you will find yourself loving and rooting for each of the characters and their ambitions and their heart’s deepest desires. 

Spinning Silver is a tale of powerful magic and of debts owed and paid; it is a story about women who refuse to accept the callousness of the men who seek to suppress them; it is a story about the power of found families and the deliberate choice to protect the ones you love. The world is beautiful, magical, a little dark, and full of so much hope. I loved how connected the characters turned out to be – connected mostly by magic. The atmosphere and fairy tale vibes that bring to mind the murky, mysterious charms of a Brothers Grimm story.

“With a demon wanting to devour me, I was feeling inclined to be devout . . .”

“He would only shrug and look at me expectantly again, waiting for high magic: magic that came only when you made some larger version of yourself with words and promises, and then stepped inside and somehow grew to fill it.”

“I did not really need Magretta to tell me that love had caught my father like an unwilling fish, and having slipped the hook he had been glad to forget he had ever been on it in the first place.”

I think there are not enough good Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale retellings out in the world and I am happy to say that this was a perfect mix of fairy tale retelling and whimsical fantasy world. Novik took bits and pieces of the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin and weaved them into the story in different and surprising ways. Everyone wants to write the Beauty and the Beast retelling or the Cinderella retelling, but how often do you see a Rumpelstiltskin retelling done this well?! Novik’s writing is simple and uncomplicated but still paints a picture of complex, intriguing world with ease. This fantasy gets a huge thumbs up from me. 

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Del Rey in exchange for my honest review***

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