ARC provided by Dey Rey in exchange for an honest review.
“Bring me the winter king, and I will make you a summer queen.”
Spinning Silver is one of the best books I’ve read all year. I loved this story with every fiber of my being. And Naomi Novik is a master at storytelling and interweaving stories together. You all know that this is a very loose reimaging of Rumpelstiltskin but I’d say it’s more of an empowering tale of three girls, all on three different paths, all promised to three different men, while all being looked over by three different mothers. Three is such a constant theme in this book, too, and it really helps reinforce that this story feels like a tangible piece of magic in your hands while reading. This book is nothing short of a masterpiece.
“The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard.”
The Three Girls:
➽ Wanda – a girl who has had to be strong, because it’s the only life she has ever known. Wanda has spent her short life taking care of her brothers and trying to please a father who is impossible to please. But that all changes once she is the only way to pay back his debts.
➽ Irinushka – a girl who has been born into royalty but has never known love from her blood family. Irina is still determined to save her people, by any means necessary.
➽ Miryem – a girl who will do whatever it takes to save her family. Miryem is strong, and relentless, and one of the very best characters I’ve ever read in my entire life. And she becomes one of the most feared moneylenders in her village, and she discovers that she awfully good at turning silver to gold. But she is not the only one that notices.
“That part of the old story turned out to be true: you have to be cruel to be a good moneylender. But I was ready to be as merciless.”
The Three Mothers:
➽ A Passed Away Mother who continues to look after her children.
➽ An Adoptive Mother who has unconditionally loved her child from the start.
➽ A Birth Mother who wants nothing more than her child safe and happy.
“A robber who steals a knife and cuts himself cannot cry out against the woman who kept it sharp.”
The Three Marriages:
➽ Filled with Hate because even in 2018 some men want to believe that they know what’s best for a woman, no matter the cost.
➽ Filled with Fire because some people are born into a world without a chance, regardless of money, power, and privilege.
➽ Filled with Cold because protecting the thing you love is sometimes something you’re willing to do anything for.
“…someone had climbed down and looked through our window: someone wearing strange boots with a long pointed toe.”
And these three girls, with their mothers, forced into their three marriages, all come together and create something so beautiful that I don’t even have words to express it. I will say that Miryem is for sure the main character. I will also say that we get to see a lot more points of view than these three girls and their betrothals. And the story is something that is so whimsical, so feminist, and nothing short of an honor to read.
Trigger and content warnings for hard scenes to read about loss of a parent, siblings, and death of children, for extreme parental physical abuse, brief mention of animal deaths, mention of past rape, sexual assault, alcoholism, torture, violence, murder, and use of the word Jew (not negatively, but it still didn’t feel good to read at times).
But one thing I did want to touch upon is how much Judaism plays such an integral role in this story. Miryem and her entire family are Jewish, and from the first to last page this plays a pivotal role in the story. I am not Jewish, but I still loved this inclusion so very much. Also, I’m adding “go to a Jewish wedding” onto my bucket list immediately. To my Jewish friends: please, invite me to your weddings.
Spinning Silver is such a love letter to found families everywhere, too. You guys know I love reading about found families, but all three girls in this book are the epitome of found families. Unconditional love is truly the strongest force in this universe, and not only does this book showcase that, it also celebrates that.
Overall, this just felt like a story that was single-handedly created for me. From the Staryks, to the Winter King, to the traveling between places, to the so very strong female cast, to the magic, to every single word on every single page. I swear, opening this book felt like magic and I never wanted to shut it. And I know I am being rather vague with my synopsis, but I truly believe that this book is probably best to go in not knowing much, and to just experience this otherworldly story firsthand. Without a doubt, this will make my “best of 2018” list and will forever have a place on my favorites of all-time shelf. Thank you so much, Naomi Novik, for a story I will cherish forever. And that last line will take my breath away every reread. Perfection.
“Because that’s what the story’s really about: getting out of paying your debts.”
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.