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Beautifully written, with an intricately woven storyline and filled with strong characters, Spinning Silver is, in my eyes, Naomi Novik’s best novel amongst her many other masterpieces. With her command of the written word this writer is a master storyteller; she is able to spin together lovely sentences and create an exquisite narrative. Her richly developed characters are flawed, fallible, and the reader cannot help but fall in love with them. Her motifs are multilayered and allusive. With this being said, her books are always a fabulous treat.

Spinning Silver is a story about value and love and family, and how much we are willing to trade, or sacrifice, for what we need, or who we love. An embroidered apron may earn a kopek in the market or it can be traded for a loaf of bread and a bottle of cooking oil. An unwed virgin daughter, a priceless commodity, can be traded away in marriage by her farmer father for a pig. A duke’s daughter is worthy of trade for a chest of gold, or a political alliance. But, saving your people, your family, you and yours, is equal to the price of your soul.

Although there are six narratives in this story, the 3 strongest are the moneylender Miryem; Wanda, the farmer’s daughter; and Irina, the daughter of the duke. When a fourth was added about one-third of the way through the book it was a little jarring, but this turned out to be an important voice. The last two voices expose parts of the story for the readers what the others cannot. Thankfully the writer has an icon representing each voice at the beginning of their narrative otherwise it would be confusing.

Miryem wants to provide and protect her family and so becomes what her father could not: a moneylender that collects. She is clever and resourceful and with tenacity and a strength that developed after years of second citizen treatment because her family is Jewish, Miryem tells the villagers she expects them to pay their debts. Some begrudgingly pay a few pennies at a time or with food or household goods; the farmer gives Miryem his daughter, Wanda, to work as an indentured servant until his drinking and gambling debt is paid off. This deal creates a strong relationship and in turn is the basis of the one of the most touching storylines in the book.

Proud of her ability to provide for her family, Miryem makes a prideful boast that is overheard by the Staryk, magical wintry creatures that control the forest lands, raid the villages and coat the land with snow every season. To protect her family, she unwillingly makes a deal with the Staryk king and agrees to an impossible task.

To Irina’s father, the duke, she has little value; she is not beautiful enough to catch a wealthy husband nor is she a son who can carry on his name. A fortuitous meeting between the duke and Miryem changes all that. Irina becomes her father’s pawn to win the tsar. But it also brings out an ancient and deadly power. To fight this, another bargain is struck, a formidable bargain.

Throughout the book there is the beauty of the Staryk’s frozen kingdom, a glass mountain, a Jewish wedding under the forest sky, a family that finds a love they never knew, reindeer with fangs, a tree that listens, mirrors that bring sanctuary, a crown that gives its wearer beauty and power, silver that becomes gold, three questions, hidden names, and a magic house; each brings its own value, its own cost, its own sacrifice.

And that ending.

This is an incredible book with a gorgeous cover that I highly recommend. Like Novik’s other masterpiece, Uprooted, it is a standalone and you do not need to read her other works. But, you would be missing out if you didn’t.

Spinning Silver Epub

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “One of the year’s strongest fantasy novels” (NPR), an imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale from the bestselling author of Uprooted.


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.

Praise for Spinning Silver

“A perfect tale . . . A big and meaty novel, rich in both ideas and people, with the vastness of Tolkien and the empathy and joy in daily life of Le Guin.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Gorgeous, complex, and magical . . . This is the kind of book that one might wish to inhabit forever.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Cool and clever and . . . dire and wonderful.”—Laini Taylor, author of Strange the Dreamer

“The Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale has never been as captivating. . . . Spinning Silver further cements [Novik’s] place as one of the genre greats.”—Paste

About the Author

Naomi Novik is the acclaimed author of the Temeraire series and the multiple award-winning Uprooted. She has been nominated for the Hugo Award and has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, as well as the Locus Award for Best New Writer and the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel. She is also the author of the graphic novel Will Supervillains Be on the Final? Fascinated with both history and legends, Novik is a first-generation American raised on Polish fairy tales and stories of Baba Yaga. Her own adventures include pillaging degrees in English literature and computer science from various ivory towers, designing computer games, and helping to build the Archive of Our Own for fanfiction and other fanworks. Novik is a co-founder of the Organization for Transformative Works. She lives in New York City with husband and Hard Case Crime founder Charles Ardai and their daughter, Evidence, surrounded by an excessive number of purring computers.

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