Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

This book was one I picked completely going against the rule “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” because seriously DO, that is one thing authors spend a lot of time picking out! Trust me, I spent hours, days, months, years (okay maybe that’s a bit dramatic..) obsessing over mine. But this cover got me immediately. Everything intrigued me right off the bat, and then I read the description. I love me a fairytale retelling, but this one was a Rumpelstiltskin-type retelling?! Sign me up!

Spinning Silver’s author, Naomi Novik does a fantastic job of creating not just one, but two intricate worlds. Not only that, but you also get to experience these worlds through six different people. Yep. Six. At first, I thought that it was going to be super confusing, but in the end, it was expertly done. I don’t know her writing process, but if she does character profiles or story outlines, I really want to check out the intricacy of her notes. Once or twice I was briefly confused as to whose head I was in, but it was rare. Each voice and personality was so distinct and I was super impressed.

A few pages in, I immediately had to reach for a cup of tea and my snuggly blanket because the icy world leaks off the pages. You open up to the story of a girl called Miryem and her family. Miryem and her family are incredibly poor moneylenders. (Or Jews…? That was one thing that was kinda weird to me. As the book continued you were clued in that it was due to their religious views, but right off the bat, I thought everyone was just calling them that as a slur and were just super rude. But I digress.) This week again I got some Game of Thrones vibes. These poor people are trapped in a crazy long winter and it always seems to be freezing cold and snowing. #HouseStarkWhereyouat On top of that, there are these evil mysterious fairy/elf things that pop up and murder a bunch of people all to steal their gold. Crazy… But her family is really poor because Miryem’s dear old dad is too kind to go actually ask for the money that he lent to everyone back, and it is always winter so there isn’t much money around, to begin with. After years of struggle, Miryem gets sick of watching this happen and takes it upon herself to step into her father’s shoes and go get the money these people owe her family, so they can finally eat and survive. It’s really hard because you want to not like her dad for being weak and letting his family starve simply so he doesn’t have to put his foot down and get his money back. But you just can’t retain any hate or anger for the man. Miryem’s mom and dad are just so kind you cannot help but forgive them for all that ‘weakness’. Plus it ends up being the best thing for Miryem because it makes her strong enough to take on the Staryk and save everyone.

One day she ends up on the doorstep of a debtor who is a real jerk face and comes to the bargain that instead of paying back the coins he had borrowed, his daughter Wanda would go daily to help out at Miryem’s house for 4 years until the debt was fully paid. Now without realizing it, this deal turns out to be a complete blessing for Wanda because, as I said before, he was a big ole jerk who was an abusive drunk and tries to sell her for booze. Seriously. (Which was how he got into debt in the first place.) Between Wanda and Miryem, a deal is silently struck between them and Wanda becomes Miryem’s right hand. Suddenly the Staryk, the evil fairy/elf, interjects itself into Miryem’s life and she is offered a deal. She has to change increasing amounts of silver to gold three times and then she will become Queen… or die… I won’t spoil anything, but this ends up entwining her life with another young woman, Irina. She is also stuck on her own one way trip to a hard life, of a different sort, but Miryem and Irina put together a plan to hopefully save them both. The lives of this cast of characters weave a great tangled tale that is as beautiful and masterful as a spider weaving its web, and like the fly, it caught me.

There is so much that I want to rave about, but I can’t spill too much because I am not going to ruin it for anyone. But everyone, go read this and comment below so I can talk to you about this! This tale has everything from an old witches cabin, magical jewelry, demons, goats, murder, love… everything! This is definitely going to have a spot on my reread shelf.

What is your favorite book that transports you deep into winter? Comment below!


Top Quotes

I liked to feel their eyes on me, weighing me like a purse, and being able to hold my head up when they did it, feeling my own worth.

The Staryk’s sleigh took us flying fast over the silver road. It ran between two ranks of tall white trees, their ash-grey bark fading to lighter branches covered with leaves the color of milk with translucent veins. Small six-pointed flowers like enormous snowflakes drifted down upon our shoulders and into our laps as the hooves of the deer went drumming onward, the roads; surface smooth as a frozen pond.

“I made my vows to you, but someone else keeps coming to the bedroom in your place. Squirrels run on unstick when a hunter comes too close.”

A robber who steals a knife and cuts himself cannot cry out against the woman who kept it sharp.


Stay awesome and spread the light!

JR Molt

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