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Spinning Silver

by Naomi Novik

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,2221375,214 (4.23)200
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. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar. But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.… (more)
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» See also 200 mentions

English (134)  Dutch (1)  All languages (135)
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
There's something nostalgic about Novik's writing. Both "Spinning Silver" and her previous book "Uprooted" feel like German fairy tales written a hundred years ago. They have a sense of danger you wouldn't see in a Disney fairy tale, while incorporating the fear and reality of an old-time tale. Spinning Silver jumps between first-person stories following a money changer and her growth into the role. The story takes a turn when a mystical character asks her, a regular person, to change silver into gold after hearing of her skills out of context. What follows is a tale through distant worlds that still feels familiar. ( )
  adamfortuna | May 28, 2021 |
Absolutely magical and amazing. I cried 7 times. 10/10 ( )
  JustGerry | May 14, 2021 |
Mostly Rumpelstiltskin, a little Hansel and Gretel, a smidge of Bluebeard and Scheherazade.

This was really good.

( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
Spinning Silver is like a fairy tale with three strong women at the heart of the story. We first get to know Miryem, daughter of a bad money lender. She has gotten cold and angry that the borrowers have food and clothing and comfort, while her mom is sick and the family doesn't have enough food. When Miryem decides to start collecting on the debts her father cannot bear to demand, she ends up taking Wanda into her service in lieu of the money Wanda's father owes. As Miryem becomes successful, she gives more responsibility and pay to Wanda, who decides she doesn't want her father benefiting from her hard work. So, Wanda hides her pennies and waits for an opportunity. Meanwhile, Irina is the daughter of a Duke, not considered beautiful, her father has kept her apart from the rest of the household.

There are dangers in this world - beyond poverty. Winters are getting longer thanks to the Staryk, a magical people of ice and snow that live in a shadow world on top of the "real" world. And not only are the Staryk a danger to mortal humans, they have the power to make people forget. So, when they interfere with the mortals, the people cannot remember the Staryk even exist. Further, the Tsar is malevolent and we discover possessed by a demon. As the women face down these challenges, we are waiting all the while to see how their stories intertwine. And, as a reader, I was wondering how the women would finally gain control over their own lives - no longer in the shadow of their fathers and potential husbands.

The one thing I did not like was that ore than halfway through the book, the author introduces "new" voices. Not content to continue telling the story from these 3 people's perspectives, a number of chapters are told from the perspective of previously secondary characters. Perhaps, because I was listening to audiobook, this was particularly unfortunate. It was hard enough to tell who was "talking" when the narrator had only three characters to voice.

Overall, pleasant and entertaining. ( )
  sbecon | Mar 25, 2021 |
The first three-quarters are SO GOOD. More than once, I confused my dog by cheering out loud when Miryem or Irina did something delightfully clever. All the POV characters are well drawn and have unique voices. Most of the story is tightly woven without being contrived.

Unfortunately, the ending isn't as strong as the rest of the book. It feels rushed. Did I miss it, or was there no mention of how gold is literally sunlight before the climax of the story? A thing like that needs to be established *before* somebody uses it to stop the world-ending threat. The denouement in particular seems tacked on and not earned. The story didn't give me a whiff of a hint of an impression of attraction or romance between Miryem and the Starkys king. At best, the relationship goes from hostile to slightly positive. Then Miryem goes back to spend months in the winter kingdom, and she doesn't mention interacting with the king even once while she's there. So the sudden marriage ending came completely out of the blue. Fanfic really helps: https://archiveofourown.org/works/27810874

Now that I think about it, I wanted a much deeper exploration of Starkys culture! It seems like Starkys personal relationships are practically orthogonal to human ones. Surely living among them for months would have altered Miryem's reference frame and worldview drastically...but all she saw fit to mention afterward was the repair work and bookkeeping! Ah well, this isn't a Cherryh novel. Guess I need to read the latest Foreigner sequel.

As usual, I have a lot more to say about the things I didn't like than the things I did. But even though the ending didn't fulfill all my hopes, most of the book was delicious. I'll likely reread it some time. ( )
  pyanfarrrr | Mar 21, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
[A] book of not very comforting stories, 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.
added by melmore | editNew York Times, Choire Sicha (Aug 3, 2018)
 
Spinning Silver follows in the tradition set by Robin McKinley of fairy-tale worlds populated by fairy-tale characters who feel like real people, and of princesses with strength and agency. But it moves the tradition forward. It’s a bright new installment from an author who’s poised to become one of the definitive YA voices of her era.
added by melmore | editVox, Constance Grady (Jul 20, 2018)
 
I'm in awe of how Novik spins moldy, hateful straw into warm and glimmering gold.
added by aspirit | editNPR Books, Amal El-Mohtar (Jul 17, 2018)
 
In spare prose of great clarity Novik weaves in and out of multiple first-person narratives in sometimes-illuminating, sometimes-disconcerting or confusing ways, exploring human and alien social structures and ethnic prejudices, fathers and daughters, damaged relationships and hidden agendas, wringing unexpected consequences from seemingly simple choices.
added by melmore | editKirkus Reivews (Jul 10, 2018)
 
This gorgeous, complex, and magical novel, grounded in Germanic, Russian, and Jewish folklore but richly overlaid with a cohesive, creative story of its own, rises well above a mere modern re- imagining of classic tales.
added by melmore | editPublisher's Weekly (Jul 1, 2018)
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Novik, Naomiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Delort, NicolasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flanagan, LisaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Metsch, Jo AnneDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Shea, TaraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sobey, KatyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, David G.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Webb, KarolinaPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The real story isn't half as pretty as the one you've heard.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This novel was expanded from a short story also entitled "Spinning Silver" which was published in the anthology "The Starlit Wood"
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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. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar. But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.

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Book description
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.
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Naomi Novik is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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