Title: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 47
(see below for breakdown)
Will dark magic claim their home?
Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s too kind-hearted to collect his debts. They face poverty, until Miryem hardens her own heart and takes up his work in their village. Her success creates rumours she can turn silver into gold, which attract the fairy king of winter himself. He sets her an impossible challenge – and if she fails, she’ll die. Yet if she triumphs, it may mean a fate worse than death. And in her desperate efforts to succeed, Miryem unwittingly spins a web which draws in the unhappy daughter of a lord.
Irina’s father schemes to wed her to the tsar – he will pay any price to achieve this goal. However, the dashing tsar is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of mortals and winter alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and Irina embark on a quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power and love.
Everything I read from Naomi Novik just makes me enjoy her writing more and more. I have been slowly making my way through her Tameraire series, which I have been adoring, but i think Spinning Silver has quickly jumped to the top of my list as my favourite of her books.
This just reads like a classic dark and twisted fairytale from the very beginning. The use of language and description is just exactly what you would expect from a Grimm Brother’s tale. It just sets the scene perfectly from the very first page and that is what got me hooked. It felt dark and cold and creepy, inviting you in with a bony finger to hear tales of everyone’s fate.
I adored the magi system in this book. Again, it was just really reminiscent of old folk tales, the hint of evil behind every act. The scheming and double crossing. It worked so well with the characters too. The different ways they perceived “magic” was fantastic. with Wanda believing Mathematics to be powerful and mystical, while for Miryem she witnessed true magic and saw it as an opportunity to wield and Irina saw it as a method of escape, While for others it was a curse rather than a blessing.
All of these stories, tales and perspectives were just so beautifully interwoven. the number of threads of plot were astonishing and how they were all pulled and brought together were just outstanding. It was just beautiful! The mixture of that old folktale feeling with the new story was just luscious. It had the perfect amount of creepy and well as a nice resolution to the end.
The thing that let this book down was its formatting. There was no indication of a perspective switch, which wasn’t consistent between chapters with new perspectives being added as the story progressed. This lack of delineation made it a little difficult to tell which character was narrating, especially in the later chapters when the characters had convened together as they had quite similar narrative voices so at times I just couldn’t tell them all apart and would have to flick back and forth for clues as to whose story I was following.