Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver

by Naomi Novik

Hardcover(New Edition)

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A fresh and imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale from the bestselling author of Uprooted, which was hailed as “a very enjoyable fantasy with the air of a modern classic” by The New York Times Book Review.

With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.

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.

Advance praise for Spinning Silver

“A book as cool and mysterious as a winter’s night, with two marvelous heroines at its heart. Spinning Silver pits the cold of endless winter against the fires of duty, love, and sacrifice. I couldn’t put it down.”—Katherine Arden, New York Times bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale

“Naomi Novik knows how to weave words into magic, and Spinning Silver enchants the reader from the first page. This magnificent tale of three courageous young women who find the power to change their fates will catch you in its spell and linger long after the last chapter is read.”—Christina Henry, nationally bestselling author of The Mermaid

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Choire Sicha

…Naomi Novik has gathered countless old tales and turned them into something all kinds of new. The theft of summer, a burning demon who lives inside a prince, a witch's hut in the woods, the secret power of names, the frozen winter road that winds its way through the depths of the forest—they're all here…Novik's last standalone book, Uprooted, is a flawless and straightforward tale of a young woman's awakening as a witch. It is single-minded and precise…Spinning Silver feels different, sprawling and shaggy in a sophisticated way (though it also feels suitable for any smart middle-schooler or adult). In richness of ideas, and in glory of sentences, both these books are spectacular. Where Uprooted was clean and thrilling, Spinning Silver is like falling asleep in the passenger seat of a car and waking with a jolt of fear, a cold window sticky against your cheek, a strange night country outside. Where are you? Here, in a book of not very comforting stories, a big and meaty novel, rich in both ideas and people, with the vastness of Tolkien and the empathy and joy in daily life of Le Guin.

Publishers Weekly

★ 04/23/2018
This gorgeous, complex, and magical novel, grounded in Germanic, Russian, and Jewish folklore but richly overlaid with a cohesive, creative story of its own, rises well above a mere modern re- imagining of classic tales. Novik (Uprooted) begins the story through the eyes of Miryem, a Jewish moneylender’s daughter, whose pride in her ability to wring payments from borrowers draws the demanding attention of the terrifying, otherworldly, and rules-bound Staryk, who are ruled by a wintry, gold-loving king. Secondary characters—a peasant boy, a duke’s daughter, a tsar—eventually become narrators, weaving interconnections that feel simultaneously intimate and mythic. Novik probes the edges between the everyday and the extraordinary, balancing moods of wonder and of inevitability. Her work inspires deep musings about love, wealth, and commitment, and embodies the best of the timeless fairy-tale aesthetic. Readers will be impressed by the way Novik ties the myriad threads of her story together by the end, and, despite the book’s length, they will be sad to walk away from its deeply immersive setting. This is the kind of book that one might wish to inhabit forever. (July)

From the Publisher

A book as cool and mysterious as a winter’s night, with two marvelous heroines at its heart. Spinning Silver pits the cold of endless winter against the fires of duty, love, and sacrifice. I couldn’t put it down.”—Katherine Arden, New York Times bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale

“Naomi Novik knows how to weave words into magic, and Spinning Silver enchants the reader from the first page. This magnificent tale of three courageous young women who find the power to change their fates will catch you in its spell and linger long after the last chapter is read.”—Christina Henry, nationally bestselling author of The Mermaid

School Library Journal

★ 09/01/2018
Although he's a moneylender, Miryem's compassionate father has allowed the villagers to avoid paying their debts while his own family starves in the cold. With her mother sick in bed, Miryem steels herself and travels door to door demanding payment. Though she faces prejudice and anger because of her gender and Jewish faith, tenacious Miryem soon takes over as town moneylender, earning a reputation as a shrewd businesswoman who can turn silver into gold. Hearing of her skill, a Staryk (cruel, fairylike creatures from the winter realm) lord visits Miryem and demands that she turn his silver into gold. If she succeeds, he will make her his queen, but if she fails, an icy death awaits. What starts as a quest to survive soon morphs into a mission to save the human and winter kingdoms. As with Uprooted, Novik infuses a fairy-tale concept with Eastern European traditions and weaves everything into a comfortingly familiar yet stunningly unique work. This magical tale is a story of strong women overcoming hardship through perseverance, intelligence, family, and faith. With each chapter told from a different perspective, this masterly work pulls readers into the characters' world, making it impossible not to root for them. VERDICT Recommended for teens who love fairy tales and readers who appreciate complex, character-driven narratives that build slowly to a satisfying conclusion.—Lara Goldstein, Orange County Public Libraries, NC

Kirkus Reviews

From the author of Uprooted (2015), the splendid Temeraire Napoleonic Wars-and-dragons series, etc., this reworked fairy tale's opening sentence might well have read Once upon a time in Old Lithuania....Expanding a recent short story based on "Rumpelstiltskin," Novik weaves in other elements of Eastern European folklore along with some fine original flourishes. Miryem, the granddaughter of affluent Jewish moneylenders, takes over her incompetent father's failing business affairs. Channeling anger and frustration into business acumen, she collects the debts that are owed, accepting goods or services as well as coin. In this and other ways, Miryem turns copper and silver into gold. Unfortunately, gold attracts the attention of the Staryk, coldhearted fairies who occasionally intrude into the human world, bringing with them forgetfulness and a breath of winter. One such gives Miryem fairy silver, ordering her to change it into gold. Fairy silver, Miryem finds, is so beautiful that it fetches huge sums in gold, especially when made into jewelry magnificent enough to intrigue the Duke. Miryem slowly grasps that she's made a bargain with the Staryk: He will make her his queen if she succeeds in spinning a vast pile of silver into gold—and freeze her solid if she fails. She has no wish to marry him but also notices that the Staryk do not particularly value gold in itself—so why do they want such large quantities of it? In spare prose of great clarity Novik weaves in and out of multiple first-person narratives in sometimes-illuminating, sometimes-disconcerting or confusing ways, exploring human and alien social structures and ethnic prejudices, fathers and daughters, damaged relationships and hidden agendas, wringing unexpected consequences from seemingly simple choices.A medieval fable of obscure moral import blossoms into a thoughtful, emotionally complex, absorbing drama that stands confidently on its own merits.

Library Journal

★ 06/15/2018
Miryem is the progeny of moneylenders, but her family is impoverished because of her father's inability to collect his debts. Wanda's father abuses her and her brothers, drinking away the household's income. Irina knows she is plain and of little help to her father, and that her only choice in life is to wait for marriage. Through these three women, Novik (Uprooted) addresses weighty questions of power, choice, prejudice, beauty, and identity with aplomb. While magic certainly plays a role here, Novik provides opportunities for these protagonists to save themselves, too. Each woman encounters magic for benefit or ill: the ability to change silver to gold, portals to an icy world, a house that exists in multiple realms, a demon, or an ice king. Each must decide what they will sacrifice to rescue their people. Echoes of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale as well as Greek and Slavic myths are transformed through Novik's skillful writing. Ultimately narrated through six distinct voices, her tale moves deftly among stories that ebb and flow and occasionally brush against one another. VERDICT This masterly, immersive high fantasy tale is grounded in real-world challenges and opportunities for growth. Highly recommended for fans of Novik's previous titles or fairy-tale retellings.—Katie Lawrence, Grand Rapids, MI

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399180989
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 132,493
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.70(d)

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