Spinning Silver Book Review

Hi, everyone

  I'm posting a review of a book I read in March. It's Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

A 5 stars rating from two of my favourite authors, Patrick Rothfuss and Martha Wells, prompted me to read this book. I really really liked it. And this will be one of my favourite books for years to come. The book won many awards, including Locus Award for a fantasy novel,  Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for adult literature. It was nominated for Goodreads Choice Award and Booknest award for the best traditionally published novel. 

Now then, let's talk about this beautiful work.

Book review

 There is a popular fairytale in Germany known as Rumpelstiltskin.  It is believed to be originated around 4000 years ago.  The story goes that a miller who frequently lies to the people in his town once told the king that his daughter is not only beautiful but can turn straw into gold. As it turns out, this was a lie too. But the king, after hearing this, tells him to bring his daughter to his court the next day.

Miller's daughter had no idea about this. But she had to appear in the king's court. The king then locked her in a room, gave her a spinning wheel, and ordered her to turn a room full of straw into gold or else he will kill her. 

It is only when a creature named Rumpelstiltskin appears and helps her that she survived. 

This is the basic idea that is used in the Spinning Silver book where a moneylender's daughter is unwillingly taken by the king of the Winter Kingdom to turn silver into gold.

You can read the full story here.  

 This story is used as a basic premise by Novik in her book. So it has a very traditional storyline with fantasy elements in it.  But Novik's version is very different with lots of new characters and different plots. And honestly, you won't have the slightest idea beforehand about the story she tells in Spinning Silver. So we can say it's loosely based on Rumpelstiltskin

In Spinning Silver,  Miryem, a Jewish moneylender daughter, takes it upon herself to get the money back from the people who haven't paid back.

 Her father wasn't a good moneylender and is hesitant to ask back for his money. But it's also because they were on the brink of starving. Miryem turns out to be a good moneylender. Or maybe the situation demanded it so of her. 

This earns her a reputation of a girl who turns silver into gold.  

Here, instead of Rumpelstiltskin, Miryem does all the work of making things gold. And who demands this of her, you might ask?  It is the Staryk King. A personification of Winter. 
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.

Miryem, Irina and Wanda

 Novik used a first-person point-of-view. I liked her art of storytelling. There are multiple POVs in the book. I can think of seven such. It is also the first time I read a story from so many different points of view within the same book.  And I loved it. You can just immediately shift from one POV to another and still read it as effortlessly. 

While Miryem is the one having most chapters in her point of view, the story usually revolves around Miryem's family, Wanda's family, and Irina's family. And it's brilliant storytelling. It all comes together with lots of twists and interesting plots.

Lot of times the story takes us to characters' daily farming activities and taking care of goats and chickens. Feeding them every day, and then they give you eggs to fill your belly. I love reading day to day things in stories like this. Especially when it's winter.  

  However, it's the summer season in India at the moment. And Summer vacation and reading don't mix for me. Short stories or novellas are fine. But books with more than 300 pages take a long time to read in summer. In winter, that would only take two days. 

Does it work for you? Reading books in summer? When rather you should be watching movies or busy eating mangoes, having cold drinks and chill. 

Anyway, considering the global pandemic of COVID-19, you might not have much choice.  

It's better if you read this book during winter. Considering the setting of the book. A fairy tale with snow, forests, and country magic underneath.  December, maybe? When winter is at its peak. And you're at your home lying down on your bed, fully covered in your blanket.  Now, that is the perfect time to read this book. And you can ignore your mom all you want when she's yelling at you for the fifth time to take your bath. Because it's too good in there to come out. 

There is one quote from the book that I liked a lot. 
          Hush, sweetheart. You don't have a mother anymore, but let me to speak to you with her voice a minute. Listen. Stepon told us what happened in your house. There are men who are wolves inside, and want to eat up other people to fill their bellies. That it what was in your house with you, all your life. But here you are with your brothers, and you are not eaten up, and there is not a wolf inside you. You have fed each other, and you kept the wolf away. That is all we can do for each other in the world, to keep the wolf away.

If you have a Kindle device or laptop and want to give this one a try, please do. It's a satisfying read. One that leaves a smile on your face and contentment in your heart when you finish reading it. 

Order it on amazon - https://amzn.to/2YstY5n

(Disclosure -  Mentioned links are affiliated links. It means that if you decide to purchase using one of these links, I get a small commission. Rest assured, I only recommend products that I believe in and have personally tried.)


Books by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik - https://amzn.to/2YstY5n

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - https://amzn.to/2CAIdwx

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik - https://amzn.to/2YqqRut





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