Glittering fantasy rooted in the real. 4/5 stars.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book.
The blurb: Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s too kind-hearted to collect his debts. They face poverty, until Miryem hardens her own heart and takes up his work in their village.
Her success creates rumours she can turn silver into gold, which attract the fairy king of winter himself. He sets her an impossible challenge – and if she fails, she’ll die. Yet if she triumphs, it may mean a fate worse than death. And in her desperate efforts to succeed, Miryem unwittingly spins a web which draws in the unhappy daughter of a lord.
Irina’s father schemes to wed her to the tsar – he will pay any price to achieve this goal. However, the dashing tsar is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of mortals and winter alike.
Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and Irina embark on a quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power and love.
I jumped at the chance to read Spinning Silver after being impressed by Novik’s last novel: Uprooted. Everything I enjoyed about that book is present in her latest offering, and with Spinning Silver I think she’s improved on many of the strengths of her previous story.
A truly grown-up fairy tale. 4 stars.
The blurb: Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
Of all the fantasy stories I’ve read this year, Uprooted stands out thanks to its depth, which is fitting for a story obsessed with figurative and literal roots.
For all of you who shy away from fantasy thinking it all too far-fetched or frivolous, I suggest you give Uprooted a try. This is a grown-up fairy tale which is mercifully free from characters who spend their time navel-gazing, complaining to their friends about their problems and going through developmental angst. The characters in Uprooted all have bigger things to worry about besides themselves and deal with their issues by taking action.