Sunday, May 12, 2019

Spinning Silver

When I heard Naomi Novik had another fairy tale coming out, I was super excited to read it. But I decided I would wait until Spinning Silver hit trade paperback because that's the format that Uprooted is in (and I wanted them to sit together on my shelf). I actually saved part of a Chapter's gift card from my birthday last year specifically for Spinning Silver, which finally arrived earlier this week! I got it on Friday and immediately started reading it (although I only got a few pages in at the time because friends came over that night). I read it as much as I could all weekend and just finished now.

Spinning Silver is loosely based off of the fairy tale Rumplestiltskin. The main character, Miryem, is the daugter and granddaughter of moneylenders. Her father isn't very good at the job, which leaves her immediate family in poverty (because he never collects any of the debts he is owed). After her mother falls ill, Miryem has had enough: she hardens her heart and begins collecting the debts on her own. 

Miryem is quite good at the job. A little too good - she boasts that she can turn silver into gold, and a faerie (Staryk) king takes her up on her boast - if she can successfully turn his silver into gold three times, she will become his queen. Miryem doesn't want to become his queen, but if she fails to change the silver into gold she will die. So she finds herself whisked away into his winter lands against her will.

Unlike Uprooted, the narrative of Spinning Silver is a bit all over the place. The point of view follows Miryem, Wanda (the girl Miryem hires to help her parents out and help her collect her father's debts), Irina (a plain-looking daughter of the duke's first wife who becomes tsarina with the help of the Staryk silver Miryem was given), Stepon (Wanda's little brother), Magreta (Irina's nurse/maid/housekeeper), and even a random chapter from the tsar's perspective (his body houses a demon). While the characters are all rather interesting, I found it often hard to tell the three girls' apart (Miryem, Wanda, and Irina) until you got more context from them because they didn't have distinct voices. The narrative also felt a bit all over the place as a result, too, especially in the middle of the book (which was where you started getting Stepon, Magreta, and the tsar's narratives on top of the three girls).

Despite this though, the story really came together in the end. I didn't like it as much as Uprooted, but I still really, really enjoyed it. And now that it's over, I find myself once again looking forward to more fairy tales like this from Novik in the future.

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