While I did enjoy the overall story, I wasn’t quite as impressed with Naomi Novik’s, Spinning Silver, as I was with her previous novel, Uprooted. I’m not quite sure if the hype got to me or I was just expecting something a little different.
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.
- Totally Atmospheric! – I think it’s fair to say that at this point we can all agree that Novik definitely knows how to set a tone for her stories. She just has this ability to create a world that completely evokes the essence of original fairytales. If you had told me that she had actually found the original manuscript for Rumpelstiltskin and copied it word for word, I would believe you. This story just feels like it was written such a long time ago. Well done, Novik!
- All My Independent Ladies – The women completely run this story from start to finish. Our main three characters (Irina, Miryem, and Wanda) are some of the strongest females that I’ve ever read about. They each bring their own kind of strength to the story, completely transforming those around them. Miryem was my personal favorite because she had a bit more of a spicier personality than the other two girls. While Irina had a much more steady type of strength that I admire, and Wanda finally reached her peak self to take charge of her own life. If you’re looking for a book with a wonderful feminist message, you’ll really enjoy this one!
- Portrayal of Judaism – I really appreciated that Novik took such a realistic historical portrayal of Jews during the Middle Ages. They were normally some of the richest people in towns and villages, usually involved in banking and moneylending. I loved how she made sure to give us some historical tidbits about their lives and how they were treated. It definitely helped ground the overall story in reality. I also enjoyed seeing how their religion helped shape the plot. It’s not something that we see a lot in books and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it in the future!
- Excessive POVs – I really struggled with the multiple point-of-views that would pop in and out throughout the middle of the book. Not only did a few of them not add anything to the actual story, but Novik did not define who was the new speaker and it would sometimes take me a little bit to figure out who we were following now. And as I previously mentioned, some of these additions adding nothing to the overall story, only slowing down the plot. It felt like these were maybe added in during the editing process to help increase the length of the book. I wasn’t a fan at all.
- Slowww… – While I was never truly bored during the novel, I did feel like the middle dragged quite a bit. It was like we finally get to the interesting part where Miryem becomes involved with Staryk and rather than the plot really get going, it went back and stalled again until the very end. I prefer a bit more action in the middle of books than what I got with this one.
Final Verdict: 3/5 Stars
Have you read Spinning Silver? If so, what did you think of it? Which main character was your favorite? Do you like this one more than Uprooted?