Tuesday, December 10, 2019

YA Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Publication: Del Rey (July 10, 2018)

Description: 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. 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.

My Thoughts: SPINNING SILVER was a lush and lyrical fantasy filled with intriguing characters and moral dilemmas.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders and a despised Jew in a society that would rather they weren't there. Her father is a terrible moneylender and this family is on the verge of poverty. Her mother is sick and to make her better, Miryem takes over her father's responsibilities for collecting the money and interest that is owed them. She finds that she has a talent for the work despite the coldness it requires of her.

Wanda is a peasant's daughter who is abused and not cherished by her father. When Miiryem comes to collect her father's debt which he mostly drank away, she convinces him to let Wanda work for her to retire the debt. Wanda sees the life and wants the life. In Miryem's house she is wanted and needed and respected. When Miryem has to visit her grandfather in the city, Wanda takes over the debt collecting for her and finally has a little money of her own that she keeps hidden from her father.

Miryem runs into trouble when her boasting that she can turn silver into gold catches the attention of the Staryk king who is making winter last too long in Miryem's world. He takes her to his kingdom in an ice mountain and she has to make his silver into gold for him.

Meanwhile, Irina is the neglected daughter of the duke's first wife. She has lived with only the care and love of her maid until she is given a silver ring, necklace, and crown make of the Staryk's silver and catches the attention of the Tsar. The main problem with that is that the Tsar is someone she doesn't like and who is possessed by a demon that wants to drain her life.

The story is mainly told from these three viewpoints but the Tsar and Wanda's youngest brother also have sections in their viewpoint.

The plot is to find a way to stop the Staryk king from making their land too cold to sustain life and to get rid of the Tsar's demon. Miryem and Irina come up with a plan that works but doesn't really solve all the problems and requires some adjusting.

I loved how the characters - even the villains - changed and grew through this story and became real people with needs and desires of their own. This book had a fairy tale feel but wasn't based on a fairy tale I was familiar with. There was a bit of Rumpelstiltskin and even Persephone's story woven into this intriguing and beguiling story.

Favorite Quote:
But the world I wanted wasn't the world I lived in, and if I would do nothing until I could repair every terrible thing at once, I would do nothing forever.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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