Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

by |June 28, 2018

Spinning Silver by Naomi NovikSpinning Silver
by Naomi Novik

Review by Sarah McDuling

I have been a diehard Naomi Novik fan ever since reading Uprooted. Some books enter your life and you just know they will never leave. You’ll read them again and again, recommend them to everyone you meet and recklessly buy each new edition as it comes out, purely because you can’t help wanting to own them all. Uprooted by Naomi Novik is one of those books for me. And now so is Spinning Silver!

Based on a short story that was first published in The Starlit Wood – a beautiful collection of fairy-tale retellings – I was delighted when I heard Naomi Novik planned turn her captivating short story into a full length novel. The short story was so perfect, I felt sure the novel would be magical. And now that I’ve read it I can confirm Spinning Silver really is 100% pure magic!

Naomi Novik has an amazing ability to write wonderfully original fantasy novels that read like long-lost fairy-tales – at once new and nostalgic. Reading Spinning Silver gave me such a feeling of wonder and discovery. This is what it must have felt like for people to read The Last Unicorn or The Princess Bride back when they were first published. Just like Uprooted, Spinning Silver reads like an instant classic.

Set in a charming Russian inspired fantasy world and told from the perspective of multiple characters, the plot of Spinning Silver is wonderfully intricate. There is so much going on in this book – and all of if it is great! Beginning with the financial troubles of Miryem – the enterprising moneylender’s daughter – the tale soon spins out to include a farmer’s daughter, a young goatherd, the new Tsarina, her loyal maidservant and even the young Tsar himself.

The characters must face otherworldy challenges such as demonic possession and the threat of a never ending winter, as well as more worldly dangers like poverty, prejudice and domestic abuse. This is rich, multi-layered fantasy full of complex characters and strong themes … my favourite kind!

The story is loosely based on the Rumpelstiltskin fairy-tale, but this is not a faithful retelling at all – much as Uprooted was not a very close retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Both books are clearly influenced by fairy-tales but actually end up reading more like original fantasy stories.

Fire demons and ice fairies, a girl who can turn silver into gold and a king who can make winter last forever … Spinning Silver is the perfect read for fans of Katherine Arden, Juliet Marillier, Robin McKinley and Garth Nix. An utterly spellbinding and beautifully told fantasy, it is bound to please readers who loved Uprooted as well as strike a chord with anyone who likes a good fairy-tale.

Spinning Silverby Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver

by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver is a new take on the classic fairytale Rumpelstiltskin, from Naomi Novik, the author of the award-winning Uprooted.

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.

Channeling the heart of the original fairy tale, Naomi Novik deftly interweaves six distinct narrative voices - each learning valuable lessons about sacrifice, power and love - into a rich, multi-layered fantasy.

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About the Contributor

Sarah McDuling is Booktopia's Senior Content Producer and Editor of The Booktopian Blog. She has been in the bookselling game for almost a decade and a dedicated booklover since birth (potentially longer). At her happiest when reading a book, Sarah also enjoys talking/writing/tweeting about books. In her spare time, she often likes to buy a lot of books and take photographs of books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instragram @sarahmcduling

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  • Roy Taylor

    July 28, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    If you like a good fairy tale romance Spinning Silver is a certain pleaser…beautifully written. It will stay with me forever.

  • Bronwyn

    July 29, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    I’m not usually big on SciFi but enjoy your work Naomi

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