I didn’t know what to expect from Spinning Silver. The story is based on the children’s fairy tale, Rumpelstiltskin, part of the Brothers Grimm writings. The original folk tale is not very long, and so I was intrigued to see how Naomi Novik would fill out the plot into a 400-odd page book.
Novik’s imagination starts the book off in the small and humble village of Lithvas, sitting on the outskirts of a larger city, Visnia, and very close to a wintery road that is covered in snow no matter the season. It is said that the road brings brutal, mystical (if not magical) people, known as the Staryk, who search and plunder for gold.
The main protagonist is Miryem, the daughter of the village’s money-lender. Miryem’s father has too kind a heart and a dislike for confrontation, meaning his family live in poverty as he never calls in the villagers’ debts. Miryem begins to take over her father’s business, learning how to trade, and bringing wealth to her family. Their village resents this.
One day Miryem is visited by the king of the Staryk, who has heard of Miryem’s abilities to create gold out of goods and silver (through her business and trading). And so the story really begins (no spoilers here though).
Alongside Miryem’s story is that of two other women. One, Wanda, the daughter of the village’s drunk who goes to work for Miryem, and Irina, the daughter of the Duke of Visnia.
What I loved the most about this book are the three heroines. Each of their characters are strong and brave. There are no damsels in distress here. I also loved the way the book weaves between each of the women’s storylines, slowly building the overall picture. What I struggled with at times were the complexities of the plots and the depth of detail. However, overall I really enjoyed this book and Novik’s style of writing, and will be moving on to her other book, Uprooted, soon.