Re-read August 2022: why yes, despite the fact that I frequently call this one of my favorite books, I haven’t re-read it ever. Don’t get me wrong–I think I’ve read parts of it over and over (Miryem and the vaults of silver, in particular) but never the full book end to end.
Let’s call a spade a spade: I was scared! What if it didn’t hold up to my prior review? Written in December 2018, in my defense, almost a year (!) before JKR came out and revealed *waves* all of that? There are other books that I come back to on a pretty regular basis but which are somewhat universally loved. I can name you a few other people who also come back to The Hating Game on a regular basis, for example. The Locked Tomb has occupied more of my year than I care to share.
But here, there are people who are just as obsessive about Uprooted or who read this book and weren’t as charmed.
Needn’t have worried.
This book does it for me, and if you’re like me it’ll do it for you. Do you like retellings of myths that don’t plod from highlight to highlight? I give you Spinning Silver. Are you looking for multiple plotlines that weave together seamlessly, like the author knew what they were doing? I give you Spinning Silver. Are you looking for multiple kicka** female leads who are complicated and at odds and respect one another and rescue themselves? I give you Spinning Silver.
This book is ostensibly a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, but as Miryem tells you at the outset the story isn’t the happy ending you’ve always been led to believe. It’s a story of cheating someone out of what they are owed and telling yourself that they deserved it. From there Novik spawns an entire beautiful Eastern European world, where magic is real but dangerous and humans are left to do the best they can playing games that they shouldn’t be able to win.
As in the Good Place, the theme that underpins every storyline is “what we owe to each other.” The Staryk society is driven by bargains made and debt owed. Miryem’s family’s wealth comes from being moneylenders to the rich and powerful. Irina’s maid Magreta gains a measure of stability from having provided a service to Irina’s late mother. Mirnatius is in thrall to a demon as part of a bargain he never wanted but owes anyhow. Wanda puts up with an abusive father until she can’t anymore. When the storylines start to merge, all the lines get blurred and while what’s “right” and “wrong” start to blend, but our main characters–Wanda, Irina, and Miryem–try their best to remain true.
If I had to critique anything, I found chapters narrated by Stephon a bit irksome, because he by definition is a child and less aware of nuance. Mirnatius’ chapters are hilarious, even more so when you realize the truth [. I’ve heard people critiquing the romance subplots, especially that between [ but it’s neither a major part of the story nor particularly shoehorned.
In a nutshell, as I said eons ago…SO GOOD.
Original review, December 2018I feel like I need to rescale everything else. Or give this 6 stars. It’s the best f***ing thing I’ve read in AGES.
it was engrossing and thrilling and the best way I can describe it is I felt the way I did midnight of July 21, 2007, when Deathly Hallows came out and I was inhaling the book but simultaneously unwilling for it to end but unable to make myself slow down.
I just…SO GOOD.