Review: Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik

Spinning SilverSpinning Silver by Naomi Novik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spinning Silver was my introduction to Naomi Novik, and a glorious introduction it was. It has been a very long time since I have been so captivated by a story, by writing, by the beauty of language that it silenced my inner critic and editor.

This is a charming and captivating story drawing upon Eastern European mythology and sensibilities, a very female story, which reinvents Rumpelstiltskin, the Ice Queen, and others. Novik creates a mythology and world which are utterly believable, fully realized down to minute details. She understands material culture intimately, the effects of climate upon the land and its people, of social constructs.

Miryem is the protagonist, the descendant of moneylenders who are more kind and forgiving than with the fortitude required of the profession, and thus Miryem finds herself in a grim and indigent life until she decides enough is enough and takes over the family business. That action, and the boast she unwittingly utters, draws the attention of the Staryk king, a lord of a kingdom of ice and cold.

Miryem, and the two young women she draws into her circle, become entangled what seems an impossible quest. Novik knits together all these elements into a mesmerizing story, one which I will be purchasing in hardcover for my library. The only reason I haven’t given the novel five stars is because I don’t think it’s quite literary enough to become a classic of the ages. But it is definitely an excellent read.

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