It’s my CBR11Bingo Cannonballer Says Square, thanks to: narfna, velveeter, Aquillia, Jenny S, alwaysanswerb!
Before I was a CBR participant I was a CBR lurker. I am always looking for something new to read and this book- and author- got such strong reviews that I’ve had it on my ‘ok I’m finally going to get to this’ reading list for months.
Miryem is the daughter of a money-lender in a small town. Her father is too soft-hearted to be any good at his chosen profession, which leaves his family cold and hungry in the winter and his wife getting progressively more ill because there is no money for food or medical care. Miryem takes over collecting duties to try to help her mother. She begins to get her father’s accounts in order and the townspeople who previously took advantage of her family now fear and dislike them. As part of a payment Miryem accepts the services of Wanda, a peasant girls whose abusive alcoholic father has no hope of paying back the huge amount he owes.
Miryem becomes so good at her job- not just collecting owed debts, but lending anew on favorable but fair terms- that she begins to travel more. On one trip, she makes an off-hand comment about turning silver to gold and suddenly her whole life changes. Miryem is overheard by the king of the Staryk, a race of ice-people who live in a separate but shared realm. The Staryk king challenges Miryem to turn silver to gold for him and plans to wed her if she succeeds.
Also entangled in Miryem’s challenge is Irina, the plain daughter of a power-hungry lord. Irina’s father has despaired of her ever being useful to him because she is not beautiful. She is mostly ignored until Miryem’s Staryk silver makes Irina appear irresistible to anyone who sees her wearing it. Irina is married off to the cruel Tsar Mirnatius, who has terrifying secrets of his own.
This book is a mix of fantasy, horror, and supernatural romance but above all it is a story about resilient and creative women doing what they need to do to protect their families. Great recommendation, cannonballers!