Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik

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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: 2018
Publisher: Del Rey
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling, Magic, Feminism, Power Relations


This is a whole different beast from most fairytale retellings I read. Different even from the author’s previously released magnificent tale—Uprooted. Uprooted, from what I recall, was thoroughly enchanting and exquisitely written. Spinning Silver is not quite like that. It is not a love story first and foremost—it is a story of survival. It is very feminist with three central female protagonists who experience, learn and grow. The writing is in no way purple-y. The author’s main concern is not to wow us with long beautiful descriptions of what are ultimately meaningless things and she doesn’t embellish what is meant to be raw and impactful.

In other words, it is not a beautiful and perfect tale from beginning to end; it is a hard tale. There is struggle, violence, unfairness, mischief and sadness. Uprooted was more beautiful and romantic and exciting but it wasn’t necessarily better. It simply depends on what you need right now. I needed to read a meaningful fantasy and while fairytales are, well, fairytales and so hardly important to my daily life, this tale actually mattered to me very much. I was interested in the fate of all characters and despite being a slow story, I did not lose interest at any point. Whether the author decided to do this to spice up the story or make us feel connected to more characters than the three main ones, I do not know, but I appreciated the POVs from selected secondary characters also. I just wish the shift between POVs were clearer.

The best time to read this story is during summer, truly, because this is a cold fantasy world with cold magic and cold villains that will simply make you forget how hot it is outside. It is indeed a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin and a very original one at that. This should come as no surprise since Uprooted was a gem also. And I know I said that it’s not a ‘‘beautiful’’ tale, but I meant in the traditional sense because it is absolutely fantastic. I am in awe.


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