Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver

Book - 2018
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"Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father is not a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has left his family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what is owed, and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. But when an ill-advised boast brings her to the attention of the cold creatures who haunt the wood, nothing will be the same again. For words have power, and the fate of a kingdom will be forever altered by the challenge she is issued"--
Publisher: New York :, Del Rey,, [2018]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780399180989
Branch Call Number: SF
Characteristics: 466 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

A great retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. A determined young woman takes over the family business of money lending, but is captured by an elven king when he hears that she can turn silver into gold. - Mary Green

From the critics

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LoganLib_Sheridan Jan 11, 2021

Oh My God I did not realise how long this book was! There is a lot going on and Naomi is an amazing writer, weaving characters together and slowly revealing the complexity of 'villainous' characters and keeping the readers attention throughout.

This is a slower paced book I think which is largely character driven but Naomi puts plenty of work into her characters and it shows as the story feels very immersive. You can also tell she's put thought into the details as everything slowly comes together.

I loved the empowered women she writes in a world where women were considered housekeepers. The women use their brains to outsmart the men who would destroy them if given the opportunity. It goes beyond outsmarting though as they work to understand the deeper forces driving the men and divert these forces for both their and the mens benefit allowing them to create an equitable relationship with the men.

I loved the use of russian folklore and ancient Gods as part of the inclusion of magic in the story. There is a magical world but there is also magic in the 'real' world that is from this other world and I love the crossover. I love that mundane things done in the real world can translate to magic. There is a very distinct feel to the magic of this story that works together with the setting to create a whole.

I liked the use of family in this story. The family is usually dysfunctional but when they are needed they support each other. Miryem's parents love her even though her father's nature means they struggle to provide for her. They notice and care, even through a magical haze, when she is gone.

There is Wanda and her brothers who do not start out antagonistic but aren't necessarily supporting each other but learn they are stronger together and support each other against their horrible father.

There is Irina's father who has plans for her. He might love her but only as much as her beauty and therefore her worth allows. He loves her a lot more when she has the jewellery and is therefore more beautiful and marriageable to the Tsar. She uses his plans though and makes her own. She is also supporter by her stepmother and chaperone where they are able.

There is just so much to love about this book!

Oct 17, 2020

Not a young adult book.

Sep 25, 2020

Recommended by Tor - Sarah Waites

Apr 24, 2020

Another wonderful magical tale from Naomi Novik! Novik has this beautiful ability to mix and blend fairy tale and folklore into stories about characters you'll want to invest in. I've often wondered if the author would ever create a sequel to Uprooted. This is no sequel and the titles have nothing in common and I couldn't be happier for it! So happy she wrote a totally different story this time!

Apr 11, 2020

Magical and wonderfully atmospheric!

JCLJuliaV Mar 25, 2020

So much more than a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, this story weaves three classic fairy tales together with Jewish beliefs and Slavic myth into an intricate tapestry of fantastical glory! Miryem's father is a moneylender with a disposition so tender he hardly sets out to collect the debts that are owed. When this lack of resolve sends the family into debilitating poverty, Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Through shrewd bargaining and clever exchanges, Miryem soon wins her family's fortune back with interest... the unwanted interest of the cold, faye-like Staryk king, that is.
Irina is a seemingly unattractive, unassuming daughter of the duke of Lithvas. When Miryem unwittingly provides her with three magical items made of Staryk silver she is suddenly transformed in the eyes of her political suitors. Her glamourous beauty attracts the attentions of the bachelor tsar... who is secretly possessed by a powerful demon that only wishes to consume her and all of Lithvas. Irina must then use her wits and inherited Staryk power to protect herself and her people from this terrible threat.
Wanda is a poor peasant girl with two brothers that live under the abusive care of their drunken, beastly father. When Miryem offers her a chance to work off her father's debt in the Mandelstam home, she accepts in hopes of escape for herself and her brothers. When Miryem is taken by the Staryk king, Wanda's loyalty and skills prove vital in protecting Miryem's family.
Again... SO much more than a Rumpelstiltskin retelling. This is a masterpiece of fantasy!

ArapahoeJohanna Feb 14, 2020

Absolutely fantastic book! This is one of my favorite retold fairy tales I've come across in a while. It borrows elements from familiar stories like Rumpelstiltskin and the tale of Persephone, but Novik also creates new mythology that feels fresh and familiar at the same time. She weaves a complex and thrilling tale about magic, power, politics, and family against the backdrop of an unmistakably Eastern European setting.

The book follows three women struggling to find safety, financial security, and freedom in a society that views them as little more than potential wives and mothers, in a kingdom besieged by ever-expanding winters. Though the setting is fantastical and the country fictional, the tale feels grounded in history; the cultures, beliefs, and experiences of the characters ring true. In particular, this is one of the best portrayals of Judaism I’ve seen in fantasy. The women at the center of this book are wonderfully complex and diverse, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, trials, and goals. I found myself rooting for all three of them, even when their interests were at odds with each other. This is the kind of book that stays with you long after you put it down!

Jan 22, 2020

The book had so much promise. It built on a rich tapestry of myth, has a fantastic Jewish main character with good character development, but it fizzled out. Too many characters spread the story too thin. Two characters I'm not even sure why I was supposed to follow their story since they had little to do with the story in the end or along the way. The book could have used a ruthless editor to help separate what could have been a fantastic story from the noise.

CCPL_Laura Jan 11, 2020

At its core, this fantasy is more than an Eastern European spin on “Rumpelstiltskin.” It also has the beating heart of Jewish history and culture. There is a pulsing ache of despair coupled with the determined urgency to find hope threaded throughout. The characters, most especially Miryem, will do whatever it takes to save family, friends, and loved ones, and to find that sense of peace, hope, and joy at the end of this long tunnel of desperation and doubt. To see it played out like this — and how the consequences of one character’s actions impact a whole country, an entire kingdom — was an adventure in and of itself. Fans of Novik's previous Eastern Europe lore, Uprooted, will fall for this story, and readers of Juliet Marillier and Jacqueline Carey's fantasies will enjoy the lush and detailed cultural tale.

VaughanPLShelly Dec 11, 2019

You've probably heard of Novik's UPROOTED and this book is honestly just as good. If you like fantasy books with interesting world-building, beautiful writing and compelling characters, this book is for you.

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