I will be honest; I have been waiting for this novel to be published ever since I read (and loved) Uprooted, also by Naomi Novik, and winner of the 2015 Nebula award for best novel.
Although Spinning Silver has been marketed as a retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin novel, it is very loosely based on it. The basic concept of being able to turn silver to gold is a main theme of the book, but otherwise the story is very different. Like many fantasy books today, the lead characters are strong woman looking to solve their own issues and make their way in the world. That is not to say that they will not end up with a prince in the end, it is just they do not play the classic role of damsel in distress. This book is more complex then Uprooted following several characters and storylines that eventually blend together.
There is Miryem, the Jewish daughter of a moneylender who takes over her father’s business and finds she is better at it then her father ever was.
There is Wanda, a poor girl who lives in the same town as Miryem, whose mother dies and leaves Miryem with her two brothers and abusive father.
Then there is Irina, whose father is a Duke, but one that has not taken interest in her after he wed her stepmother.
They all live in the same medieval kingdom of Lithvas that is ruled by the demon controlled Tsar and have magical beings called Staryks that terrify the residents. What’s not to love?
My only critic is that I would have enjoyed seeing a novel that has both strong male and female characters. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed Spinning Silver and I am anxiously waiting Naomi Novik’s next novel.
I listened to the Random House audio unabridged version Spinning Silver narrated by Lisa Flanagan. The narrator does and excellent job of bringing out the personalities of the different characters and made listening to the book on long drives enjoyable.
In summary – if you are looking for a creative fantasy with strong female leads, just a touch of romance and a feel good ending – this book is for you!