Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Loosely inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, Spinning Silver takes us to a world where a moneylender’s daughter, a peasant girl, and the daughter of a lord set to marry the young tsar are caught in a tangled web when word of a girl that can turn silver into gold captures the attention of a nameless king. It’s a hauntingly evocative tale, one that sees humanity caught in a war of fire and ice in a world that fears the winter king while a demon holds their tsar captive. The bleakness of this world is reflected in the writing as this foreboding threat looms over the heads of our characters, and it’s a testament to Novik’s writing as she captivates readers with her atmospheric writing.

So often, folktales are a source of reflection on real-world issues and, Spinning Silver is no different. Novik has spoken on how Spinning Silver was partly influenced by her father’s heritage as she challenges the antisemitism rhetoric of the Jewish moneylender stereotype through the mistreatment and judgments Miryem and her family face. 

Much like Uprooted, Spinning Silver is a captivating tale of power, destruction, and control. These women have been raised to live in confines of what benefits the men in their lives. Spinning Silver sees Miryem, Irina, and Wanda take control of their agency by breaking the boundaries of the confines that bound them and doing so in a manner that reflects their anger at the hand dealt to them. However, while much of this book is eerily dark and atmospheric, there is also a sense of hope carried throughout the novel. This hope is carried by the women determined to carve about a better life for themselves and their loved ones and the price they’re willing to pay to secure their safety and freedom. This book does not rely on the prince charmings of the world to save the day but celebrates the resourcefulness and collaboration of women. 

As the nights get longer and the cold sets in, Spinning Silver is a haunting tale that will captivate readers from the off-set. With a richly imaginative setting, Spinning Silver is the perfect companion on these winter nights.

Rating: 4 Stars

What did you think of Spinning Silver?
Have you read any of Naomi Novik’s books?

About the Book

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.

When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk–grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh–Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.

But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.

Channeling the vibrant heart of myth and fairy tale, Spinning Silver weaves a multilayered, magical tapestry that readers will want to return to again and again.

20 thoughts on “Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

  1. You finished a book AND you wrote a review!? Buddy, I’m proud of you!! The books sounds kind of up my alley, but let’s face it, I neither have the time nor resources to add any more books to my TBR haha still, I grew up with loads of Rumpelstiltskin stories, so this would be interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s gotten into me!? I think I’ve been possessed haha. I was hoping this one would be a hit and it’s a good book to read this time of year. Very atmospheric. How does anyone have the time to read these days. It’s a mystery to me. I think my next book needs to be in the 200 page range instead of 500+ haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ahh.. i love this review !! I LOVE this line, “This book does not rely on the prince charmings of the world to save the day but celebrates the resourcefulness and collaboration of women.” 😍😍 I’ve always been intrigued by this as you don’t see many Rumpelstiltskin retellings so I think it could offer me a lot. I’ve also yet to read a Novik book so I need to do that at some point !! I love the sound of the themes and I love when fantasy tales have real-world issues linked throughout too!! Thank you for sharing !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The pacing can be a bit on the slow side, but it’s so immersive you don’t notice. This is the first Rumplestiltskin retelling I’ve read and it’s set the bar high for any future ones. The emphasis on sisterhood was brilliant.

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    1. It’s rare I read retellings these days too, but this one was such a loose retelling it can easily stand as its own entity without the Rumplestiltskin comparison.


  3. Sounds like another wonderful book by Noami Novik. I’ve been curious about her stuff before but they seem to garner mixed thoughts depending on the reader’s experience with fantasy. I’m glad you enjoyed this one a lot! My only experience so far with Rumpelstiltskin was actually from the first seasons of Once Upon a Time hahah Great review, Lois!

    Liked by 1 person

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