Title: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Magic, Retellings, Strong women
Dates read: 5th – 9th September 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: I woke thinking not of my mother, but of the ring; I wanted a chance to touch it, to hold it.
WILL DARK MAGIC CLAIM THEIR HOME?
Miryem is the daughter of a moneylender, but her father’s too kind-hearted to collect his debts. They face poverty, until Miryem hardens her own heart to collect his debts. Her success creates rumours she can turn silver into gold, which attract the fairy king of winter himself. He sets Miryem an impossible challenge – and if she fails, she dies. Yet if she triumphs, it could mean a fate worse than death. And in her desperate efforts to succeed, Miryem unwittingly involves the unhappy daughter of a lord.
Irina’s father schemes to wed her to the tsar. However, their dashing ruler hides a terrible secret that threatens mortals and winter alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and Irina embark on a quest that will encompass sacrifice, power and love.
This is my first every Naomi Novik. I know that there’s been a lot of hype around her work, so I was kind of looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about. And now I understand the fuss. It is well deserved fuss. This book was amazingly written, incredible fun and seriously intense. For some reason I was kind of expecting a young adult, easy read which would sweep me away to a beautiful, magical kingdom. This is not that book. This is a book about three different women and how they become the strong, independent women they need to be to defeat a great evil.
I normally struggle a little with storylines that jump between narrator voices. Especially when it isn’t necessarily clear who is the primary voice. The first few jumps between Miryem, Wanda and Irina kind of frustrated me because it was a little difficult to follow each storyline. And then I started recognising their narrations and their voices. Suddenly, I loved jumping between the three girls as they became women. Jumping across voices and storylines in a completely haphazard way which sucked me in completely.
One of the themes that is incredibly strong and prevalent throughout this story is the idea of paying what you are owed. Whether that was to the moneylender or paying the debts that you have accrued through your actions. It is this great reminder that every action has a consequence, and sometimes you have to face up to those at the worst possible moments. Although, this wasn’t entirely negative. Wanda helps to save Miryem because she feels like she owes her and is thankful to her actions. Miryem finds her own happily ever after partly because she honors another being and does what is right, rather than what is easy.
I love how each of the three women who are featured in this story come into their own powers under their own volition. They aren’t immediately strong. And all of the decisions that they make are for survival and their families – it’s not about suddenly being a grown up, but the process through which it occurs. There is a fantastic gradual change to the characters throughout. One which makes you reflect on your own life at sixteen and how you changed over those years (alright, I wasn’t getting married to demon spawn and fighting for the survival of the world, but still…)
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