Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

So I’m back, talking about how long it’s been since I posted here again… In a nutshell, my boyfriend and I got the keys to our first house together on the 1st October, so over the past few months our spare time has been spent completing paperwork, liaising with solicitors and the seller, organising works, shopping for furnishings and most recently stripping the wallpaper in every room and other bits around the house. I’m already planning my office/personal library! All in all I’ve been a little preoccupied recently and much to my dismay reading has definitely taken a backseat and with all the upcoming decorating and renovating we have planned too I’m worried it might continue but I’ll be trying my best to not let it.

Anyway, I’m here today with a far too long overdue review of Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I was very kindly sent a copy by Jamie Does PR earlier in the year and am almost embarrassed by the length of time it has taken me to get around to reading and then reviewing the book (I’m sorry)! Keep on reading for my spoiler free review.

Spinning Silver Book Review

From the cover:

“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.”

Source: Goodreads

Thoughts:

Prior to receiving the book, I had heard nothing but amazing things about Uprooted, Novik’s previous high fantasy novel so when I heard about Spinning Silver I was certainly intrigued. When given the opportunity to request a review copy I jumped at the chance and was beyond excited when it turned up on my doorstep.

Having prior commitments to other review books upon receiving Spinning Silver, I didn’t get around to it right away but as soon as I finished my current reads I picked it up straight away. I couldn’t wait to delve into a world I had already read such glowing praise about.

At first I found the story a little hard to get into and it took me a good while to get more than even a hundred pages in. Because of this I did feel a little intimidated as it is quite a big book, but tried to commit to reading 30-50 pages each day where possible. There were several different perspectives dotted throughout the book which meant that on occasion it took a few lines of each chapter to figure out exactly whose thoughts I was reading but I soon got used to it – it did get a little more difficult when a new perspective or two was chucked in over halfway through though! One thing that Novik did really well in these different perspectives was adapt her writing for each person, notably Stepon who is a young boy. The chapter read just like a young boy would think and speak which I found really interesting. This aided the plot in many points as the story was told in a more simplistic style which actually delivered a much stronger impact.

One thing I particularly loved about Spinning Silver was the group of strong, capable and kick ass women featured who started their very different journeys on separate paths but came together towards the end to complete a common goal. All from varying backgrounds it was very interesting to read from their perspectives and understand how their lifestyles and social standing made them experience and view their lives differently. Some points were difficult to digest, particularly the relationship between Wanda and her father, but *trigger warning* for domestic abuse.

I have to acknowledge the fact that there was an element of disappointment throughout my read. As I’ve been so busy and preoccupied I feel that my read was potentially tainted and that I didn’t fully appreciate the writing and the story. It took me literally over a month to read the story where I can usually turn around a book of that size in under a week.  When I look at any other review I just see a gush of positive emotion and I don’t know how to feel as that really wasn’t my experience. In fact, when I posted my rating of the book on Twitter I got a couple of shocked replies! Part of me is upset that maybe this just wasn’t the right time for me to read this book, and the other part contemplates that maybe it just wasn’t for me in general.

Despite the above, I must note that the plot was interesting and unlike anything I have read before – Spinning Silver was my first foray into Russian folklore and fantasy and it has definitely piqued my interest. The villains and questionable characters made for enjoyable reading (if that makes sense?!), particularly the Staryk and their domain. I definitely enjoyed the last 1/4 of the story the most as the plot picked up pace and I was totally invested. The story definitely felt like a fairy-tale through Novik’s atmospheric and beautiful writing and there were total Rumplestiltskin retelling vibes as Miryem turned silver into gold. There was exquisite world building throughout which made it effortless to visualise the story. Spinning Silver would definitely translate into a wonderful film; I understand that Uprooted already will be!

For me Spinning Silver was a 3/5 star read. This was down to a few factors including the fact it took me over a month to read and that I wasn’t totally gripped from beginning to end. I wouldn’t write off future books by Novik and did enjoy Spinning Silver but unfortunately I just didn’t love it as much as everybody else it seems. And do you know what? That’s ok – we all have different tastes and all enjoy different things. If we didn’t, book blogging would be totally boring! Thanks so much to Jamie Does PR and Tor Teens for providing me with a copy for review.

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