A Rumpelstiltskin retelling, but also so much more than that.
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.
Title: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Publication: July 10, 2018 by Del Rey
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Target audience: Young Adult
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The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard.
Wow, yes, ok, this was even better than Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which I gave 5 stars as well.
Spinning Silver had the same feel to it as Uprooted, which is: a fairy tale with magic, sorcerers and villains who are not what they seem to be.
The story revolves around three girls who couldn’t be more different from each other: Miryem – a Jewish girl growing cold inside to save her family, Wanda – beaten by her father and worth only three pigs to him, and Irina – daughter to a duke who plans to marry her off to the tsar.
After one cold hard winter too many, Miryem decides to do what her father can’t. She collects all the money they are owed and leads her family into a comfortable life. She is surprisingly gifted at bargaining and silver seems to turn into gold in her hands. But because of one poor phrased remark, she catches the attention of the Staryk, fairy-like creatures that kill, steal and rape and seem to be winter itself.
The Staryk king himself appears at her front door and gives her a task. She has to turn silver into gold for him three times. If she succeeds, he will make her his queen. Should she fail, he will turn her into ice.
Trying to escape her death, Miryem unwittingly involves both Wanda and Irina.
And not only Miryem ends up married to a monster, but Irina as well.
“So the fairy silver brought you a monster of fire for a husband, and me a monster of ice. We should put them in a room together and let them make us both widows.”
The moment the tsar sees Irina, he wants to marry her. But Irina is not beautiful or special in any way, and she soon realizes why the tsar wanted her. For it is not the beautiful tsar’s wish, but the demon’s living inside of him.
Together, Miryem and Irina try escape their husbands and save the kingdom along the way.
I loved this so much. I loved the characters, the subplots, the magic, the hints at various fairy tales. This book is said to be a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, but it is so much more than that. And the elements that are taken from Rumpelstiltskin are scattered through the story, making it a completely new one. I love it.
The story is told from the first person narrator and changes POVs regularly. I’m not used to that at all, but I found myself enjoying the different voices and thoughts. Everytime we changed setting, I wanted to stay and learn more about that subplot, but I also wanted to know what happend in the next one and arghh… I just liked every story and wasn’t bored by a single one of them.
I can’t believe there is no sequel planned because I. Need. More. Damn, I don’t even really need a plot, I just want to know how all the characters are going to live their lives!
Have you read anything by Naomi Novik? Do you plan to? Let me know down below in the comments!
You can find lovely fan art of Spinning Silver here!