Review | Spinning Silver

Title: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Series Details: Standalone
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 480

Blurb from Goodreads:

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. She will face an impossible challenge and, along with two unlikely allies, uncover a secret that threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike.

Fair Warning: I know some of us loves to take a sneak peek at the ending of a book before buying it or starting to read it, but trust me, you don’t want to do that with this book. Let’s just say that the last sentence is a parting gift meant to put a grin on your face as you close the book, and you definitely don’t want to spoil that.

Spinning Silver is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, and it contains everything I look for in a fairytale retelling—a magical atmosphere, vivid descriptions of the world and the magic system, strong and determined cast of characters that you just can’t help but root for, a wonderful storytelling, and a plot that is nowhere close to the original tale but did not lose the important elements that makes it recognizable as a retelling.

Because that’s what the story is really about: getting out of paying your debts.

The story mainly follows three women as their fates entwine. Three daughters who found themselves caged in difficult situations because of their fathers—Miryem for her father’s weakness, Wanda for her father’s debts, and Irina for her father’s ambition. Their flaws were on full display throughout the book, but so is their pure determination to get out of the situation they’re in. It was a proud moment watching them develop from obedient daughters to being their own person. How they bravely face the problems in front of them is totally admirable.

A robber who steals a knife and cuts himself cannot cry out against the woman who kept it sharp.

The book has multiple narrators. At first it sticks to Miryem, Wanda, and Irina’s perspective—and I wished it stayed that way—but more perspectives from secondary characters were added later in the book which kind of made things a bit confusing. There were chapters wherein it took a little while before I have an idea whose perspective I’m reading because there’s no indication at the start of each chapter.

It’s just a bit of a bummer that we didn’t have a single chapter with the Staryk king’s perspective. It would have been interesting to see the winter kingdom and the sunlit world in his eyes, or get a glimpse of how his thoughts ran, or know how he feels towards people.

I wouldn’t hold myself that cheap, to marry a man who’d love me less than everything else he had, even if what he had was a winter kingdom.

Overall, Spinning Silver is a beautifully written book with magic leaking from its pages. Novik ended it in a clever way, the last sentence being a huge nod to the original tale. I would happily recommend this to everyone who loves fairytale retellings or anyone who’s in the mood for a story of magic, winter, gold, and an admirable bond of friendship.

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