Rating: 3.5 / 5
SPINNING SILVER by Naomi Novik was another option I found on my TBR for the “gold,” “silver,” or “bronze” in the title Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt. Though I went with a gold title for this prompt, I decided to go ahead and read this one also. It also fit the Currently Reading Podcast 2020 reading challenge prompt for a fairytale retelling.
In SPINNING SILVER, Miryem comes from a family of moneylenders, learning her family trade after her father’s lack of skill has left her family nearly destitute. Known as someone who can turn silver into gold, she gains the unwanted attention of a fey king. This king governs a people known for coming into Miryem’s world to take from Miryem’s people. Hearing that Miryem has the ability to create wealth from practically nothing means she’s on the list of things they want to take.
Miryem is just one of the women portrayed in this book. We get separate narratives with overlapping story lines, mainly focusing on our female protagonists. Wanda is a young peasant woman who is trying to get on her feet and out from her domineering father. Irina is the daughter of a local lord looking to marry her off to a tsar who is not what he at first seems.
I really appreciated the focus on strong women in difficult circumstances standing up for themselves. The worlds portrayed are quite magical with supernaturals, curses and magic and I appreciated that quite a bit. I found the point of view changes to be very rough though. I picked this up as an audiobook and it may be that this was just not the right format for this book. The POV changes without any notification mid-chapter with frequency and while the story lines are different enough, there aren’t a lot of other clues to let you know that the narrator has changed. In the print version there do seem to be breaks in the text when there is a change with a small graphic to draw attention, but nothing was done in the audiobook to carry over this helpful notation. This is a book where I perhaps would have liked it better had I picked it up in print.
I did enjoy this story quite a bit overall because I enjoy creative retellings and dark fairy tales. I had heard it described as a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, the correlation is definitely there but it is a relatively small part. In the end it is a story I enjoyed reading, but not one that I loved.
Reading Challenge Categories:
#CRReadingChallenge2020 – Tale as Old as Time (a fairytale retelling)