By: Naomi Novik
My Rating: Four out of Five stars
Best for: Ambitious Readers 14 and Up
To me, Naomi Novik will always be connected to Temeraire, the revisionist history series about the Napoleonic Wars fought on the backs of dragons. (No typos–you read that right!) I was curious to find out how she tackles fairy tales. Thanks to a great book friend who gifted me Spinning Silver for my birthday, I got to find out!
So, how did she tackle it?
Like a boss.
Spinning Silver is a grown-up Fairy Tale loosely based on Rumpelstiltskin about a girl who boasts of turning silver into gold, the icy Fairy King who overhears her, a ridiculously good-looking Tsar who’s possessed by a demon, the undesirable daughter of a Duke who marries the very desirable Tsar, a trio of siblings with an abusive father, and how all their stories intersect and overlap and become part of the same, magical battle for peace. It’s beautiful and fantastical, and it takes traditional fairy tale tropes and spins them–just so–into something new and wonderful.
The characters in Spinning Silver are going to win your heart–especially the three strong female leads fighting for their place in a world of men. Check out this favorite quote from one of them:
But I had not known that I was strong enough to do any of those things until they were over and I had done them. I had to do the work first, not knowing.
The story was absolutely engaging, but in Spinning Silver it was the poetry-worthy writing that took me to another place. It’s packed full rare and amazing descriptions that don’t just tell you about the cold…the wet…the dark…the pain…the fear…the unknown…the hard decisions–they make you FEEL them.
I wish I could write like that.
There were a lot of words, though, and I’m not talking about the number of pages. It wasn’t a book I could read fast. To truly digest it I had to read slow, sometimes re-reading passages multiple times to make sure I really understood. The writing felt thick to me, and it was actual work to read. Very enjoyable, but not as readable as others.
No content issues as far as the big three: sex, language, or violence. But that thick writing made it a hard book to read. I’ll say Spinning Silver is best for ambitious readers 14 and up.