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Spinning Silver: A Discussion

Before you go any further, if you are new to my blog posts pay attention. Book reviews are simply reviews, but discussions are in-depth and may include spoilers. So, if you haven't read Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik and plan to, I suggest that you take caution.

Spinning Silver is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling that features a young Jewish woman in a poor nameless town. Her family is poor...but that is her father's fault. He's a moneylender who refuses to collect on the debts the people in town owe. Maybe it's because they already don't like them, after all they are Jewish. Or maybe he just wasn't cut out for the job. Either way, when Miryem's mother gets deathly ill, she decides to collect. And she does. She doesn't care about how the townspeople see her. All she wants is for her mother to get well again and for them to have food in the house and good clothes and shoes to wear in the winter.

But, Miryem gets a big head and claims she can turn silver to gold which arouses the curiosity in a Staryk lord, a man made of ice. And either she does as he's commanded or her entire family will be turned into ice or have their souls snatched out of their bodies. As someone who has always been a fan of folklore, this idea was really cool to me and I appreciate how Novik showed us what that looks like in the novel. Moving on...

A cover of the novel "Spinning Silver"

Stars: 4.5/5

One of the fun things about rereading books is that you begin to remember little details that you forgot. It had been years since I first read this book and I had forgotten some of the minor details. Like how much Wanda longed to take Miryem's place simply because her home life was so horrible. A good meal and a kind word were enough to make Wanda wish that Miryem never returned, even though Wanda often felt guilty for thinking it.

Another concept that I love is that while there are couples (forced together through no choice of their own), there is no romance in this book. Except between Miryem's parents and grandparents, that is. While Miryem and the unnamed Staryk lord come to terms and a bit of a friendship, there isn't much romance between them. The same can be said with the now-free-of-his-demon tsar Mirnatius and his somewhat callous tsarina. They were forced together because the demon wanted to eat her. Now that the demon is gone, well they have to make the best of things. It isn't a forced happy ending and I appreciate that. The ending fits with the details of the book and makes you wonder what happens next. However, what is most important is that you close the cover and feel satisfied.

Any fairytale readings you think I should look into? Leave them in the comments. And until then,

Happy reading!

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