Spinning Silver

Spinning Slilver.jpg

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father's inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. 

When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk--grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh--Miryem's fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar. 

But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love. 

Channeling the vibrant heart of myth and fairy tale, Spinning Silver weaves a multilayered, magical tapestry that readers will want to return to again and again.

Genres: Fantasy / Fiction / Fairy Tales / Young Adult

Author: Naomi Novik

Hardcover, 466 pages

Published: July 10th 2018

Publishing House: Del Rey

My Review

This retelling based of Rumpelstiltskin is a fantasy fairy tale of epic proportions without the loss of whimsical folklore.

In a small village in the country of Lithvas lives a Jewish money-lender and his family. They aren’t doing so well. Other families in the town have taken advantage of them and are not repaying their debts.

Miryem, the money lenders daughter has enough of it. She decides to go on knocking on peoples doors in the middle of the night. With her new ways of business, she is able to turn her families’ financial status around and then some. As she is seemingly making something of nothing, the Staryks’ fairy Lord leaves a small satchel of silver at her doorstep. Puzzled, Miryem has to figure out the riddle of what to do with it. At market, she has a jewelry maker melt it down and turn it into beautiful pieces to resell in exchange for golden coins. As the Staryk comes back for more and more, it becomes an almost unsurmountable task to turn silver into gold.

The story is told from three main perspectives. Irina, Miryem’s childhood nurse and Wanda a local peasant girl. As Miryem’s initial success means well for others, it soon poses difficulties and consequences. A challenging balancing act that sweeps across into distant realms of fairy land where Miryem has to outwit the Staryk Lord to save her entire village.


This novel feels distinctively Eastern European and I loved that. As the story unfolds in the almost 500 page novel, it never loses the intimacy and intricacy of small details. Moments of simple dinners, meaning of family and friendship and an appreciation for the simplest of beauty shines through in several spots of the novel. This may pass by some readers or falls unappreciated under the radar, but traditions, folklore, folktales, fables and myths are huge in the upbringing of little children in Europe and I like seeing that reflected. Perhaps as Mother Goose Rhymes, Dr. Seuss or Willy Wonka are childhood favorites in the US, most all children know the Disney-fied versions of Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel Puss in Boots, Snow White or Hansel and Gretel. And I know that this novel is not for children, but it held it’s intricacies or moods closer to an original. Most fairy tales have dark and sinister parts as in this book as well. There are bleak moments, there are pauses and yes, the book is long. It’s a work of art, very well imagined and although Rumpelstiltskin was used as a base, it still takes the reader into unimagined places and a deep plot.

Doing a little research I found this site with a small compilation of tales from around the world. Diving into originals will definitely bring back childhood memories for me.
Enjoy :)

World of Tales

(Photo credit for all the above pictures WikiWand.com)