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Monday, 9 July 2018
Review: Spinning Silver
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!
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.
Spinning Silver has a cracking opening line, I'm not going to lie. You just know the book's going to be good from that point on, regardless of whether or not you've read Uprooted and know what excellence to expect! First things first, I need to hit you all with TW: DOMESTIC ABUSE for one of the POV's so none of you are caught unawares!
I have to say, I very quickly warmed to Miryem and I was backing her all the way. Watching her father get mugged off by the people he'd lent money to, who refused to pay him back, while they lived in luxury compared to Miryem and her family actually made me quite angry. Miryem and her family struggled so much, while these people had whatever they wanted or needed and begrudged paying back what they'd loaned!? I really don't blame Miryem for taking matters in to her own hands. I actually quite admired her, she was intelligent, she made her family up from nothing. She made herself and her family a success. She's strong, smart and she doesn't give up. She does what she thinks is right, and I really respected that from her.
I honestly started shipping her and the Staryk Lord pretty early on. I was like "come on dude, thaw yourself a bit. I know it's hard, but you know you want to". The ending had me cheering, it was too cute but also...totally them, no gushy romance, it was just perfect and wrapped up their story really well!
Alongside Miryem we have a couple of other POV's, one of which is Wanda. I got so damn proud of her the further along the book went. She starts off quite quiet, but she ends up becoming friends with Miryem and stands up for her and for herself at different points throughout the book. Her father is very abusive, like that's actually an understatement. He's a nasty piece of work, and he's very violent and really doesn't treat Wanda like a human. Despite all that, Wanda see's the magic in even the simplest thing, and I really loved that about her.
In the beginning her narrative was an interesting contrast to Miryem's, because Miryem talks about what she does to get the money, she's very businesslike and matter of fact about it, and it's very...real world, if that makes sense? Whereas Wanda looks at Miryem turning this silver in to gold or other goods and she see's magic. There's a few other instances where something very basic and ordinary, is seen as magic by her and I really liked it! I feel like Wanda appreciated the magic more!
One of our other POV's is Irina, and I honestly get so frustrated on behalf of characters like Irina, forced to marry a-holes like Mirnatius except he's extra evil. The thing is...I felt for her, but I kinda ended up not liking her very much because I really liked and respected Miryem as a character and I was on her side, and I feel like...while I get why Irina does what she does at the end, I just felt like she was kind of selfish about it and doesn't even consider anything Miryem has to say. She just annoyed me a bit towards the end.
Those are kind of our main 3 POV's, but there's a couple of others throughout the book too, new POV's kept getting added in with excellent timing! It was fantastically done, they where only added when you really needed them and each brought something to the story and the plot, and it was interesting to see some of them!
I have to say...Mirnatius surprised me. I didn't particularly like him at the beginning and I thought he was pure evil....but his is one of the POV's that comes in over the course of the book and....I found myself liking him!? He's actually pretty hilarious...rude...but ultimately hilarious. Who draws someone over and over purely to ask people if they think she's pretty!? He was so baffled, I was cackling! I genuinely ended up feeling sorry for him, and I was pleased with how things turned out for he and Irina.
This is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin but honestly...I don't actually know much about it other than what I picked up from watching Once Upon a Time and a few other bits? I do know it involves spinning straw in to gold and I saw aspects of that in the story with the silver to gold, and spinning was mentioned a few times. I did pick out Irina's ring and necklace too, as the miller's daughter gives them to our shady friend Rumpel in exchange for his help...plus the three rooms of silver coins getting bigger each time...the silver was substituted for the straw if I remember correctly.
As much as this is a retelling....Novik has put her own spin on things and while there are things you can pick out if you know what you're looking for...it feels like a different story. Spinning Silver has a proper, lush, fairy tale vibe to it from beginning to end! The final sentence...the writing...the magic, it all screamed fairy tale. Although full disclosure...much as I was fascinated by the Staryk, at the beginning I was kind of picturing White Walkers from GoT!
I also really enjoyed reading about and learning about the Jewish characters, and their community and celebrations! Especially in a fantasy setting!
The writing is lush, and rich and paints the world. Building it up, and the mythology and lore around it are woven in too. The characters are complex and well written, we see a lot of character growth and change from them over the course of the book, and I really felt like we'd all become a giant family by the end! Speaking of, I loved how the book showed that you can be family whether you're related or not, it had a very strong family theme throughout despite the domestic abuse.
Spinning Silver has an excellent, steady pace and the plot builds up slowly...it's also so much more than it first appears upon reading the synopsis. The synopsis just scratches the surface of what this book is. I enjoyed delving deeper and deeper and having the plot develop and grow and expand and take us on this fantastical journey. I really got lost within the magic and rich storytelling and was completely engrossed. It wasn't super fast paced, nor was it action packed. It had action, but it wasn't every single chapter, if you know what I mean. But the writing and plot enchants you so much that you're completely hooked and you leave the book satisfied with how it all wraps up and comes to an end!