Spinning Silver

- Naomi Novik


Spinning Silver is a new take on the classic fairytale Rumpelstiltskin, from Naomi Novik, the author of the award-winning Uprooted.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father is not a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has left his family on the edge of poverty - until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what is owed, and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. But when an ill-advised boast brings her to the attention of the cold creatures who haunt the wood, nothing will be the same again. For words have power, and the fate of a kingdom will be forever altered by the challenge she is issued.

Channeling the heart of the original fairy tale, Naomi Novik deftly interweaves six distinct narrative voices - each learning valuable lessons about sacrifice, power and love - into a rich, multi-layered fantasy.



The real story isn't half as pretty as the one you've heard.


almost perfect:

Almost the perfect mix of The Wolf and the Woodsman and The Bear and the Nightingale, I really enjoyed Spinning Silver. This is my first foray outside of The Scholomance by Novik, but the writing is so remarkably different it’s hard to believe they’re by the same author.

There are a lot of POV characters, and it can take some time to figure out who is the focus - they change quickly and aren’t labelled - but for the most part, I enjoyed the alternating perspectives.

I think Miryem was my favourite character. Her journey from starving to cold and calculating to clever and manipulative was incredibly compelling. Having to struggle against everyone, even her own family, to start collecting the money they are owed when her mother is dying makes her actions even more admirable.

I especially liked how she didn’t immediately start falling in love with her captor, which seems the typical route of most fantasy novels. There might have been a slight thawing, but it was very one-sided – Miryem was much more driven by her morals and her ties to those who rely on her before allowing any room for her feelings.

Wendy was always interesting. I liked how she considered math and reading to be magic and used them to her advantage, believing she was performing this magic herself. She had a terrible upbringing, and it takes her exposure to Miryem’s family and the basic needs they provide for her to realise how a family is supposed to act. It’s only then that she can worry about more than survival and start to feel any kinship towards her brothers. It’s remarkable to see how much she grows and changes when there’s a glimmer of hope and support in her life. With so many twists and turns in her narrative, it wasn’t always easy, but her chapters were always interesting.

Irina may have been my least favourite perspective character, but it took some time for her to become so. There’s a lot of pity at first - she’s very overlooked and undervalued - which does turn to respect as she stands up for herself and finds a way to save herself from a fate even worse than expected. She seems almost selfless in her desire to save those she cares for, but this goal becomes so specific that it blinds her to the consequences of her actions.

It may work out in the end, but it’s more despite her actions than because of them.

Most of the other perspective characters felt a little underwhelming or unnecessary. I can’t think of many instances where they added more to the storyline than these three characters could have done, but their perspectives were rarely a detractor.

With how much Spinning Silver reminded me of The Bear and the Nightingale and The Wolf and the Woodsman, I was expecting the tone to get a bit darker, maybe a little more old school fairy tale. I will admit it has its moments, and I’m sure some would argue that Spinning Silver gets dark enough, but I think the overall mood stays fairly positive; with enough careful thought and planning, anything can be overcome. So, while I loved these characters and the story, the stakes did feel pretty low despite the larger-than-life villains and consequences.



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