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Publisher's Summary

A fresh and imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale from the best-selling author of Uprooted, called "a very enjoyable fantasy with the air of a modern classic" by The New York Times Book Review.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father is not a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has left his family on the edge of poverty - until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. But when an ill-advised boast brings her to the attention of the cold creatures who haunt the wood, nothing will be the same again. For words have power, and the fate of a kingdom will be forever altered by the challenge she is issued.

Channeling the heart of the classic fairy tale, Novik deftly interweaves six distinct narrative voices - each learning valuable lessons about sacrifice, power and love - into a rich, multilayered fantasy that listeners will want to return to again and again.

©2018 Naomi Novik (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Novik updates the story of Rumpelstiltskin with a wildly original fantasy tale that has all the markings of a future classic.... Lisa Flanagan's steady narration, especially her accents and inflections, elevate the story wonderfully.... Novik's story would stand on its own, but Flanagan's fantastic narration makes it even better." (AudioFile)

"A perfect tale... This book is about the determination and quiet competence of women doing remarkable things without knowing first that they can do them.... A big and meaty novel, rich in both ideas and people, with the vastness of Tolkien and the empathy and joy in daily life of Le Guin." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Gorgeous, complex, and magical... This is the kind of book that one might wish to inhabit forever." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Her best! For me, anyway.

If your thing is lots of bashing and banging and soldiers and such, or regency style romance, this may not be for you. But if you like tales of good and evil where good prevails, but not in any simplistic way, and characters grow and develop, and things come right in the end, you just might love it as much as I did. Love is crucial, though not romantic love alone. Love and courage and the determination not to give in to greed or fear or even one’s own rage.
The narrator would get five stars from me for her demon voice alone, but she also reads clearly and with meaning, with just a hint of an appropriate accent and just enough differentiation between characters that you follow within a sentence when the author switches between narrative POV. But seriously best demon voice ever.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Tatiana
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • 07-12-18

Dark and Magical

This was darker than Uprooted, but equally excellent. The somber tone was perhaps because of the narrator, who had a faint, Eastern European tone of worldliness and disillusionment. She was absolutely excellent, and perfectly matched to the tone of the story.

The imagery is a feast for the senses . . . dark forests, villages full of harsh realities and secrets, and forbidden carriage roads 'gleaming like the top of the river in winter when the snow had blown clear.' Strange tracks in the snow outside the house, oddly shaped and made by a creature not known to man, and footprints leading up to a window . . . these are just a few hints of things you will find on your journey into this world.

Every word is captivating. Every paragraph leaves you wanting to know what comes next. And all the while, you are living this fairy tale.

Truly, the experience of this book was magnificent. It is exactly, exactly what I hoped for from Novik.

32 of 40 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

It was a good story

The story was good, the narration was excellent. I was more than a little disappointed at the plotholes left in one of the girls stories at the end. After reading some reviews, I was expecting to be blown away. And, I'll admit, I was happy to finally be reading a book with strong and SMART female characters. It's so rare to find something nowadays where you're not whispering to yourself that this or that character is a complete idiot. So I appreciated that but the story itself just plodded along at a humdrum pace and I never felt sucked in or unable to put it down. It was good, but it was not superb. The narration, though, was. If listen to this narrator again for sure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Proof that Magic and Strong Women are Beautiful

Much like Uprooted the protagonist is strong and fiercely her own woman. The character development is beautiful, shifting between each character who is strong in her own right and in her own way. The landscapes and the settings are wonderfully rendered, you can FEEL the frost. The characters are flawed but redeemable which makes them all the more relatable. Yet it retains the luster of any fairy tale. Enough of a thread you can see the ties but not so much that the story doesn’t live and breathe on its own. The narration is rich and the characters voices are skillfully handled. This is the best of the best and one I know I will dive back in again with, and soon. It is too hard to leave Miriam because now I have grown to love her too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing! Ordinary women who are extrodinary

This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart.

I have enjoyed all my listens to this author's work.  I'm more than halfway through the Temeraire series.  Uprooted is one of my all-time favorite audiobooks.  So I was very excited for Spinning Silver.  It did not disappoint.

Russian fairy tales set in a historic fantasy world are not pleasant places for women.  They have no rights, no choices. They are the property of men: their fathers, their husbands or their church.  They are told who to marry or sent to convents. If they marry, they become brood mares and servants unless their new husband is wealthy enough to have servants.

This type of setting generally makes me spitting mad. BUT, in this story, we have the tale of at least three main females, from all walks of life, who survive and overcome what life hands them. Wanda is the daughter of a drunk, whose mother has died. She doesn't have enough to eat, works hard and gets beaten when he is drunk.  Miryem is the daughter of a moneylender, who is good at lending all their money but not collecting. So she is also hungry but has a home with a loving family.  Irina, is the loved daughter of a Duke, whose mother has died.  She is isolated with the new stepmother being the focus, but she has wealth enough to live comfortably.

There are many points of view in this story. The three main females primarily, but also Wanda's little brother and Irina's old servant. There are plenty of men who have a limited view of women but they learn. These women are strong, smart and so capable. That's not to say it is easy. It is VERY hard. I love this kind of story with a strength of spirit where the characters learn and grow and fight to achieve their goals. While the men do so for power and wealth, the women do so to feed, nurture and protect those they love.

Narration:
Lisa Flanagan did a very fine performance with all the voices. Both her male and female voices were good. It was especially important to have some differentiation in the three main females as then one can tell who is in this section of the story. The pacing was comfortable at 1.25 speed. Best of all, this was such an enjoyable presentation.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Magical Journey

I love a good tale at the end of a stressful day. "Spinning Silver" fits the bill. A descriptive, well written story that is told in the first person by several protagonists, it is hard to put down once begun. The characters are believable and complex, the world is magical and well contained.
The narrator was exceptional. Her cadence and inflections second to none. It was easy to know who was talking just by the tone of her voice.
Those who enjoy a magical tale with no vulgarity or politically correct agendas will most probably enjoy "Spinning Silver."


4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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This book is worth your time!

The subtle voice shifts to represent other different characters were masterful. Ms. Novik's story lives up to her high standard as well!

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Awesome as usual by Naomi Novik

The voice/tone of this book was a bit different. But once I got into it l, it was well done. Not quite Sound and Fury stream of conscience but somehow better paced.

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Started out great

I loved the first third of the book. The narrator sometimes forgot and lost her accent, but it was otherwise great. Loved the premise and the feminist take. It was promising to be a great story.

Then the story gets a few too points of view. Too many voices. Too many characters telling the story from their perspective - and one of those characters is 100% extraneous and does nothing for the story.

The last third of the book gets strange. It's like it should have been two separate (unrelated) stories instead of an odd smash up. Also the ending is rushed.

Maybe my expectations were too high?

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A Masterpiece

I enjoyed Uprooted, and this book was similar, but far better. An engaging and exciting fairytale style fantasy story. The strong female protagonists are a nice change from typical fantasy fare. They deal with a lot of adversity but don't have the typical existential mental whining that can accompany that in other tales. The perspective does jump between characters but I found the author usually included a detail specific to the character to clue you in to that right away. I didn't want it to end.