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Review: Spinning Silver - Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
My rating: {★★★★☆}

Fantasy Retelling
Published July 12th 2018 by Macmillan

Source: ARC sent by Publisher
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.
** I voluntarily read and reviewed a review copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

I buddy read this book with Amy from A Magical World of Words. While we both enjoyed the buddy read we seemed to fall on opposite ends of the spectrum with this one so please also check out her review for a different perspective.

There's just something about Novik that I love, and I was so thrilled when I received a copy of this from PanMacmillan for review. Uprooted was one of my favourite books from 2016 and for some reason I thought that the two books were connected however this is definitely a standalone and while there might have been a minor character crossover, the two books aren't really connected at all.

Spinning Silver is a Rumplestiltskin retelling and I love how Novik has intertwined the original aspects of the fairy tale with her story and made it so completely her own. While there is no single Rumplestiltskin character I feel that different characters embodied different aspects of the important points - helping turn the silver into gold; the importance of names; debts owed and debts paid.

“Thrice, mortal maiden,” in a rhythm almost like a song, “Thrice you shall turn silver to gold for me, or be changed to ice yourself.”

The initial chapters are quite slow and yet never boring. This is a book full of multiple layers and everyone's story weaving it's way through the intricate plots.


Miryem is the daughter of the local money lender and grand-daughter to a powerful Jewish moneylender. Unfortunately her father is not a good money lender and when she can no longer stand to see the anti-Semitism and the people borrowing money without ever intending to pay back, Miryem takes matters into her own hands and takes over her father's job to save her family.

Not only is Miryem a good money lender, but she seems to be an insightful businesswoman and her entrepreneurship has her turning silver into gold. Unfortunately this attracts the attention of the Staryk, mysterious, fearsome creatures who value gold above all else.

I love how fairytale-esque this entire book plays out - so many aspects of rural life, the horrible seeds or darkness and cruelty that are planted and the gorgeous settings and descriptions. The wintry woods and fearsome Staryk make for a fabulous backdrop.

My major complaint is that the multiple POV's can be confusing - it's an unfortunate formatting where there are no chapter headers or even any clear symbols that might show us whose narrative we are getting. Personally, this didn't bother me too much as I was able to pick up in the first few paragraphs who I was reading, even if it was a new POV, however Amy wasn't sold on the configuration.


The romance factor in this one is also very little to none, and yet it is present in it's own way so there will be no payoff for any romance lovers out there.

The thing that I appreciated the most about this book is that it is full of powerful female characters who refuse to slot into their perceived places in life and the overall message is something that we can all stand to take away from this; money does not solve everything.

It had all seemed equally useless to me. Anger was a fire in a grate, and I’d never had any wood to burn. Until now, it seemed.

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