Spinning Silver // Why Haven’t I Read More Naomi Novik?

26 July 2018

Spinning Silver
Published: 12th July 2018
Source: Netgalley/Purchased
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Fairytale
My Rating:
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.
I received an ARC of this book over two months ago and I was insanely excited for this book’s release got an ARC of this book but didn't get to finishing (or starting) it before my signed preorder arrived in the post. It conveniently arrived on a Friday and right as I was finishing another awesome book. I normally hate to read hardback books because I don't like to cart them to and from work. It arrived in time to be a weekend read. I didn't start it until the Saturday and pretty much devoured it in under 24 hours. I read it quickly but it did have flaws.

I’ll begin with the bad to get it out of the way. I didn't like the continually switching POV, especially as more seemed to be introduced as the book went on. I expected maybe two from the summary but the number kept increasing. I never lost track of who was narrating and the voice of each character was distinct so I was never confused as to who was narrating when. It was well done in the sense. But then often the different POV went over the same events from different perspectives. Sometimes this overlap was necessary to explain to the reader how an event was significant and that only became apparent from a different perspective. Even so, I felt like it slowed the pace of the whole story going back over the same thing again. I also think by having multiple POV it left me questioning why each of these characters was significant. I think some of the viewpoints added only a small amount to the story as a whole. The characters helped play a role in the story but not enough to justify their role in telling that story. It doesn't detract from the book, but it bothered me to some degree whilst reading.

That's my biggest complaint with the whole book really, I do not like excessive numbers of POV because I am easily confused and tend to like certain storylines more than others. Although, in this, all the storylines converged into one of the grand finale, which I did enjoy and that made it quite interesting. I just wish I’d  been more prepared for the multiple POVs from the summary and I might’ve been more okay with it.

I will say I loved how this book is very much focused upon the women's story. Irina and Miryem are the main characters really, it's their two stories which are the focus. Miryem as the moneylenders daughter who finds she is far more skilled at the job than her father ever was and the mess that gets her into and the story of Irina who gets caught up in Miryem's machinations to please a Winter King and finds herself being sent to a Tsar as his wife and the terrible secret he holds. I won't reveal too much but I will say these two stories meant both characters had a hard path of difficult decisions and both always tried to what they thought best. I didn't always agree with them or like their actions, but they did it for their family and for their people. I respected them for that, especially as they proved they were such strong female characters who could best the men around them and show they were smart and powerful, even when both weren't claimed to be beautiful or possessed a vast power to make them a chosen one to save everyone. Instead, they had intelligence and respected that.

I really loved the magical way in which Naomi Novik wrote this book as well. Uprooted felt like a fairytale to me and this was no different. It was an amalgamation of various fairytales and folklore and it was so very interesting to read. I think I preferred Uprooted for it's more natural folklore centred within the forest and there was a whole heap of political machinations occurring here which I didn't fancy. But I did enjoy how much it felt set in the past, especially as Miryem was a Jewish moneylender, as her father and grandfather were, and the book never glossed over the fear and hatred her people had experienced being driven from countries out of fear and how they were hated for their jobs with their money. They were accused of taking more than they were due and being greedy when really people were angry to see others have wanted they wanted and were angry and covetous. I won't delve into a history lesson, though. It was just really nice to see historical elements interspersed in the story.

I didn't love every element of the book but I couldn't stop reading so it wasn't all bad. Novik has a way with words and is skilled in writing a fairytale for grown ups. I preferred Uprooted but I'm sure many will love the story within the pages of this book instead, it's all a matter of personal preference really.

Have you read Naomi Novik before? And what do you think of this book?
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