Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik | Blabber

Spinning SilverSpinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Published July 10th, 2018
Read July 10th – Aug 1st
466 pages
Spoiler-free blabber

Reading Spinning Silver is like walking through an icy forest.

I could almost feel the chill in the air and the subtle fear in the back of everyone’s minds. The atmosphere of this book is both enchanting and unsettling at the same time.

I picked up Spinning Silver on its release date – I’m a huge, long-time fan of Naomi Novik. I first read her Temeraire series when I was in high school (and am in the middle of a reread now) and I picked up her book Uprooted on its release day a year or two ago as well. Everything I’ve read by her, I have loved, and this is no exception. I feel like at this point, she could publish her grocery list and I would read it.

Spinning Silver is a loose retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, set in a Russia-esque village and nearby town and follows a few different perspectives, one being the daughter of a money lender who frankly is terrible at his job. The daughter, Miryem, starts collecting on her father’s debts and soon cultivates the reputation of being able to turn silver into gold.

This attracts the attention of a Staryk king, one of the creatures who live in a world right along side ours, who run through the woods at night on a silver road that appears and disappears without warning, who attack villages and are obsessed with gold. The king unfortunately takes the words of Miryem’s reputation literally.

The story goes from there, weaving fairy tale with myth with an over-arching sense of otherworldliness. I think my favorite part of the book – and this would honestly book one of my least favorites parts of any other book – is that nothing is really explained. There’s magic, but no defined magic system. The book just says ‘this is the world this book is in, and there’s magic here’ and that’s that. There’s no training, there’s no lore, it just is. And it played really, really well into the feeling of ‘unsettling fairy tale’ the book followed.

So if you’re not one who can easily detached from reality and go with the flow, then this book may not be for you. But if you can suspend your belief and grasp onto the idea that this magical realm exists just because it does, then you’ll likely love this book as I did.

The author did a wonder job of both making the Staryk creatures seem utterly foreign and oddly human at the same time. I think this branches from the fact that names in this world are a sacred thing – the Staryk king’s name is unknown, and the other Staryks who make an appearance do not give up theirs either, but end up adopting names that Miryem gives them out of frustration. It’s an odd dynamic. While the character development for the individual Staryks is a bit lacking, the development for the race of creatures as a whole is a bit more involved. I feel like it’d be hard to develop a character too much if even their name is off limits to use. Again, something I’d normally be irritated by but it kinda just worked for this story, for this setting, for this tone. Color me surprised.

The plot as well just feeds into the mythical tone – Miryem, who has the reputation she’s created for herself, is challenged by the Staryk king to do just what she claims to do, turn silver to gold. And Miryem, ever resourceful, handles the situation to the best of her abilities. I think she’s my favorite character in the story. Out of the six perspectives, I enjoyed reading from hers the most. She’s determined, kind-hearted and morally on a good track. Some of the other characters are not so black-and-white, some are rather gray, but each are still written so you can see where they’re coming from, if not the justification for their actions. Together, they interact, the reader sees their different perspectives and motivations as the story unfolds, and together they push the plot forward. It was a wonderful experience.

Overall, I loved this book. I loved its tone, I loved its plot, I loved the sense of wonder it gave me. I’m going to be thinking about this one for a long time.

5/5 stars

August Currently Reading | ’18

Currently Reading

Hello! Today is my first anniversary with my husband! If you’re reading this, I’m currently on a plane, bound for Chicago! This is what I’m currently reading:

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks

The Blood Mirror (Lightbringer, #4)

This is one of my two back-burner books – ones that I’m ‘reading’ but haven’t actually touched in a while. What I have read of it, I’ve very much enjoyed. I think I’m mentally delaying this book because I don’t wanna have to wait super long for the fifth one. ;~;

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

The Grace of Kings (The Dandelion Dynasty, #1)

This is the other back-burner book. I’m also enjoying this one a lot, too. I had began it on audio book and decided it wasn’t for me. Instead of DNFing it though, I picked it up as a physical copy and went from there. Oh it was so so so much better. Will likely end up adoring this one.

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P Beaulieu

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai (The Song of the Shattered Sands #1)

This one I am buddy reading with a friend, but we haven’t touched it lately. After I finish the next book I’ll be listing, this one will be my full focus again. Hopefully both of us end up enjoying it.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver

This is going to end up being one of my favorite books. it’s just so atmospheric and I adore it to pieces. This is what has distracted me from all my other books. It’s just so lovely. If you haven’t read anything by Novik yet, what are you even doing with your life.

Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft

Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel, #1)

This is another one, that if it keeps going in the direction that it is, will end up being one of my favorite books. I’m reading it as an ebook and it’s just absolutely fantastic. It’s so full of allegory and quotable passages – I adore it.

Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik

Victory of Eagles (Temeraire, #5)

This is the fifth book in Novik’s Temeraire series and I’ve officially reached the point in the series where it’s no longer a reread for me. I hope it continues to be just as wonderful as its predecessors!

And that’s it! Now do you see why I only finished four books last month? It’s because I’m reading everything and their moms at the same time.

I’ll be in Chicago until the 6th, so responses may be a bit delayed – sorry! Thank you for taking using your time to read my blog – I appreciate you. 😀

Happy reading!

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik

Read May 3- May 10
496 pages

I got exactly what I wanted when it came to this book. It’s probably my favorite read of the year so far, and that includes Leviathan Wakes (which is a close, close close second)

I picked this book up because it’s written by Naomi Novik, who is the author of one of my favorite series, The Temeraire series, which if you haven’t read it and like fantasy and historical fiction, go read it. I heard she was writing this novel years ago – it’s been on goodreads now for a couple years with a ‘expected publication’ date. And as soon as it came out in paperback, I nabbed me a copy.

Going into the book, I had heard mixed reviews. Some loved it, some didn’t. Some had goofy reasons for not liking it, which I’ll get to in a second. But what I was expecting was an enchanting, likely dark-ish fairy tale. And that’s exactly what I got. Ms Novik again proves that she can write basically anything you want to throw at her. I already knew that ‘combat’ ‘historical setting’ and ‘humor’ were in her repertoire, but after reading this I know that ‘enchanting’, ‘dark’ and even ‘hot’ can go in there too. Seriously, I love this woman’s writing.

The book follows a young woman, Agniezska (pronounced Ag-nyesh-ka) as her town prepares for the coming of the Dragon. The Dragon is a wizard who lives in a tower and protects the town from the dark woods that run along side it and a few other towns. In return, the Dragon takes one young lady from a town every ten years and has her serve him in his castle – cooking, cleaning, singing, yada yada. And it the beginning of the book, Agniezska is certain that her best friend is the one to be chosen… but she isn’t.

The book unfolds after, guess what, our own main character is chosen instead. And honestly, me saying anything further about the plot will be a major spoiler, so that’s all you get to know.

What I really loved about this book is that Novik definitely succeeded in making it feel like a modern fairy tale. The writing was enchanting, the creatures, the plot, the characters, they all screamed ‘fairy tale’, but at the same time, this story was a lot more serious than that. It had whimsical elements to it, but mixed in a good bit of violence, danger, adventure, and had me fanning my face a couple times due to uh… steam.

And this brings me to a point I mentioned earlier. A few people I noticed didn’t care for this book because the small romantic subplot didn’t have a priority in the story. Well. This story is not a romance. It’s a fantasy. It was not marketed as a romance. If you check its goodreads page, ‘romance’ isn’t anywhere in the list of genres. But at the same time, what little scenes Novik does put in are nice and steamy and satisfying. There’s really no romance focused on, but it develops on its own, if that makes sense. No emphasis, but it’s there and I loved it. So again, I feel like a lot of people were going into this expecting the main character to be swept off her feet and twirled away, and when it didn’t happen, they were disappointed. That said, after reading this book I’ve totally sailed off in a new ship.

What this book did emphasize was the woods. The dark woods that the Dragon protects the towns from. Let’s just say, those woods terrify me and the writing did a very good job and conveying just how much power it has. It’s unsettling, it’s unnerving, it makes for excellent reading. The character development too was nice to read through – the main character originally is a bit… bumbly, unsure of herself. I loved reading as she blossoms into someone that she respects.

I will add a disclaimer though. This book is nearly 500 pages long. It took me a bit over 100 before my mentality switched from ‘This is a book I’m reading’ to ‘NEED TO FINISH IT NOW GIVE ME MORE WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE ARE NO SEQUELS’. Once you hit that place, you’ll know, and you won’t want to stop. Seriously, I’d love a sequel.

So overall, I LOVED this book. I loved how it felt like I was reading a for-adults story from my childhood. I don’t know how to better explain that. Fairy tales just have this… feeling about them, y’know? This book had that and I adored it.

Rating: 5/5 stars