This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018. I’ve had the date marked on my calendar since the moment I knew she was writing another book that aligns with Uprooted‘s story telling.
Title: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: July 10th 2018
Page Count: Hardcover, 480 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Folklore, Fairy Tales
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.
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When I finally started reading Spinning Silver, I found myself transported to a world similar to Uprooted, and yet entirely different. Not unlike when reading Uprooted, I found myself transported to a world of folklore and mystery. We’re introduced to Miryem’s world of a family being abused by society in a town already struggling to get by. Yet, what I found to be the most exciting element of Novik’s writing is her ability to highlight the strength of women.
Miryem is forced to step outside of her role as the doting and dutiful daughter and must use her voice to defend her family. As one would expect, she becomes shunned by the townsfolk as a result. This isolation was partly caused by her role as a moneylender, and therefore someone who must collect money from those who took out a loan. The town is ultimately afraid of her power. Yet, she doesn’t take advantage of that. She simply approaches everything earnestly and consistently until things begin to turn around.
As the story moves forward, Miryem discovers new characters and incorporates additional members to her family and business team. I think that Novik is very subtle in the way that she intersects her character plots, so they surprise me every time. Even when I think that I expected story lines to blend together, there is always a component that pushes the envelope.
In this particular novel, I found it inspired that Miryem seems to be the most obvious protagonist but she might not be. I found myself drawn to various other poignant characters the farther into the novel that I read. Each female character is profound and struggles with her own demons. There were moments when I found myself thinking…. I don’t love the way that this is playing out. I sometimes even found myself really disliking a character only to watch him and/or her develop into someone whom I was rooting for in the end.
She manages to build controversial storylines, yet presents redeeming characteristics within those whom we might not normally see it.
I will be honest, above any other reason I have written about yet, the reason that I love this book – and really Uprooted as well – is because I absolutely adore folklore. Especially when it feels inspired by Eastern Europe. It’s fascinating to me how these myths and legends came to be. Every one of them was crafted to explain something that people couldn’t understand at the time. We all need explanations in some way, and Naomi Novik utilizes those explanations to build worlds we may never have experienced otherwise.
If you love stories about strong women, harrowing adventures, a little bit of magic, and maybe a demon or two…. this is definitely a read for you. I would recommend pouring yourself a cup of cocoa (maybe throw in a splash of something stronger), light a candle that smells like pine trees, and snuggle up on the couch. You’re in for a really special adventure.
About the Author
An avid reader of fantasy literature since age six, when she first made her way through The Lord of the Rings, Naomi Novik is also a history buff with a particular interest in the Napoleonic era and a fondness for the work of Patrick O’Brian and Jane Austen. She studied English literature at Brown University, and did graduate work in computer science at Columbia University before leaving to participate in the design and development of the computer game Neverwinter Nights: Shadow of Undrentide. Over the course of a brief winter sojourn spent working on the game in Edmonton, Canada (accompanied by a truly alarming coat that now lives brooding in the depths of her closet), she realized she preferred writing to programming, and on returning to New York, decided to try her hand at novels.
Naomi lives in New York City with her husband and six computers.
Find her at http://www.naominovik.com/.
For even more awesome news….
“The Hollywood Reporter ran an article last week about negotiations for the film rights to Uprooted, and many of you wrote to ask about it or congratulate me.
I couldn’t say anything though because the news was a little premature and the deal hadn’t been finalized yet! But now I am so pleased and excited to be able to confirm that yes, Warner Brothers – home of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies, among many other wonderful fantasy films — have optioned the rights to turn Uprooted into what we all hope will be another series of wonderful fantasy films.”