- The Good: Fantastic folklore; Easy-to-root-for underdog characters
- The Bad: Simple villain(s); Unwarranted romance(s)
- The Literary: Multiple plot lines and POVs, especially from minor characters during major action sequences
Miryem comes from a long line of moneylenders, but when her father stops collecting enough on debts to feed his own family because of his soft heart, Miryem steps in and becomes the hardened collector of loans. Her parents disprove, but her grandfather recognizes her potential and loans her a pouch of silver pennies, which she brings back full of gold. She revels in her newfound skill, until the Winter King of the dark woods takes an interest in her.
At least three tales comprise this story, one of the Jewish moneylender who is stolen by the Winter King, one of the abused girl she hires to do hard labor for her family, and one of the noble’s daughter who is married off to the Czar. Each story line is interesting in itself, but they are also deftly woven together. Even minor characters (occasionally male) get their own POV sections. I generally find it challenging to find a compelling reason to shift POV, but I really like how the high tension scenes move away from the POV of the protagonists.
Unfortunately, sometimes the shifts in POV are a little confusing. Instead of only occurring at the start of a new chapter, the shifts in POV occur at breaks as well, and since they aren’t labeled and there are a lot of different characters, it often requires a little extra work to figure out who you’re reading. My other major gripe is that the romances at the end feel unwarranted, especially since the love interests were themselves the villains at some point.
Overall, I really like Spinning Silver, much more than Uprooted (contrary to popular opinion), so I’m excited to see what Novik does next in her reimagined fairy tale line.
“Wait!” I said, as he began to turn away. “Why would you take me? You must know I have no magic, not really: I can’t change silver to gold for you in your kingdom, if you take me away.” “Of course you can, mortal girl,” he said over his shoulder, as if I was the one being a fool. “A power claimed and challenged and thrice carried out is true; the proving makes it so.”