Book Review: Spinning Silver

38606192Rating Five Star

Title: Spinning Silver

Author: Naomi Novik

Rating: 5/5 stars

Series? No

Goodreads

Book Depository  |  Dymocks  |  Booktopia

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review.

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Naomi Novik is one of my favourite writers, and Spinning Silver is my favourite book she’s written to date. While Spinning Silver is a standalone novel, it complements Uprooted beautifully as a sister-novel. Both draw inspirations from folklore and fairy tales, with Spinning Silver being an empowering and poignant examination of Rumplestiltskin. The author mentioned that while Uprooted was a homage to her mother’s experiences, while Spinning Silver is an exploration of her father’s story and heritage as a Lithuanian Jew. Richly imagined, filled with strong female characters, and expertly told, this is a book I can see myself rereading time and again in years to come.

Spinning Silver was a technical marvel, beginning from Miryem’s narration and effortlessly adding in other viewpoints throughout the novel. Each of these points of views added another layer to the world building and increased the emotional complexity and stake. They were also beautifully distinctive, from Miryem’s practical and resolute voice, to Wanda’s honest and determined narration, to the brooding and skittish tsar. Although the ARC I read did not provide any chapter heading indicating when the point of view has been changed, I was never confused due to the power of the writing.

The character development over the course of this short novel was phenomenal, as was the way the relationships between various characters were built. My favourites were the main leading ladies, each unique and possessing different kinds of strength. Miryem with her talent for bargaining and sense of fairness. Wanda and the way she savours life and constantly persist, even when things are not going her way. Irina and her cunning mind, coupled with her complete refusal to indulge in the nonsense of brooding tsars and greedy demons. Their strength and their collaboration throughout the novel was a refreshing change from fairy tales of old, where the heroine is often bereft of help unless it’s provided by fairies or dashing princes.

Like Uprooted, Spinning Silver was richly imagined and atmospheric. I read this book just as we headed into winter in Melbourne, and it felt so perfect. The Staryk with their foreboding presence created a dark and palpable tension. Novik’s description of dark and chilly winter nights were so vivid it made me shiver. In spite of the dark atmosphere, the book also contained a lot of humour and hope – I found the tsar and Irina’s chapters especially hilarious. Reading this book was like experiencing your favourite storybook for the first time, with all of the misogynistic and racist undertones cut out.

Speaking of racism, I thought Spinning Silver did an excellent job in critiquing the anti-Semitic subtext in Rumplestiltskin through Miryem’s chapters. This is also the first time I read a fantasy where the heroine goes through length to honour Sabbath, even when she’s imprisoned by a legendary monster. I will link some #ownvoices reviews of the book from Jewish readers when I find them, if you’ve written one, please let me know!

Overall, Spinning Silver was a brilliant and immersive fairy tale reimaging! One you should not miss, especially if you, like me, have always found the tale of Rumplestiltskin wanting.

Midnight Designs: Uprooted and Spinning Silver

Naomi Novik Wallpaper Preview.png

Uprooted and Spinning Silver are the perfect modern fairy tales: bewitching, evocative, with a strong streak of feminism. I am sharing my love for Naomi Novik today by bringing you two phone wallpapers featuring Agnieszka and Miryem

Important:

  • Characters and quotes belong to the brilliant Naomi Novik.
  • The phone wallpapers are free for your personal use only.
  • Please do not edit, repost, redistribute the images.
  • They are made for iPhone 6, but should fit most smartphones.

 

Uprooted Wallpaper

I was a glaring blot on perfection. But I didn’t care. I didn’t feel I owed him beauty.

Spinning Silver Wallpaper

Because that’s what the story is really about, getting out of paying your debts.

  • Find more of my free book-related designs here.
  • If you enjoyed these free graphics and want to support me, you can find me on Society 6.
  • Alternatively, you can commission me for your custom graphics by contacting me.
  • Finally, you can grab me a cuppa via Ko-fi here.

Book Review: Uprooted

5star

Title:Uprooted

Author: Naomi Novik

Rating: 4.5/5

Series? No

Goodreads

Book Depository


Book Review, Read at Midnight

Uprooted is a modern take on a classic coming-of-age fantasy, the tone reminds me of all of my old favourites: Juliet Marillier, Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones.  It also reminds me of Naomi Novik’s previous series: the wildly entertaining Temeraire.  This time, the dragon in the story isn’t the adorably blunt Chinese Celestial Temeraire, but a (mostly!) human man.  The focus of the tale is on Agniezka (henceforth referred to as Nieshka, I can’t spell her name, ok), her friendship with Kasia, her tumultuous relationship with Dragon and magic, and her struggle with the Wood.

Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley… They talk as though we were doing human sacrifices, and he were a real dragon.  Of course, that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years.  He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.

Oh, this book has one of the best opening paragraph ever, I knew I had to own it as soon as I read the free sample on Barnes & Noble.  Go on, click the link, go buy it, I’ll still be here waiting.  Anyway, the Dragon takes these girls, then return them with a handsome fortune ten years later.  The girls never choose to linger in the village, they set abroad almost immediately.  Nieshka was born a Dragon-girl, but everyone knew that the Dragon will undoubtedly choose her best friend: bright, beautiful, brave Kasia.  However, expectactions are quickly turned on its head when the Dragon whisks Nieshka to his tower instead.

Continue reading “Book Review: Uprooted”