Book review | Novik Spins Words into Fairy Tale Gold

Published 2018

Dear Fans of Fantasy,

I recently had the pleasure of reading Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, a fairytale reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin for the young adult and adult reader.

Character

Novik’s work of fantasy fiction takes you on a journey to snowy lands full of flawed humans and fey alike. You follow three young women who share one thing in common, a strength of character that makes you root for them even when they make a questionable choice. They are young and think in simplistic terms as young people do, not yet understanding the complexities of shades of gray. But we get to see them grow and mature and, in the end, we know that they have reached that point where they do not look at the problems of the world through a black and white lens.

Plot

As a reader, if you find it hard to follow the plot of a book when the author switches characters without indication, this book will be a challenge. Novik routinely switches characters even to minor characters without any distinctive change in voice or some other type of indicator. This is the one of two criticisms I have about the book, which is very good in every other way.

Pace

The pace moves more quickly than it would take you to plod your way through the thick snow that is the setting of the book, until you reach the two thirds mark, then all of sudden you feel like you will never reach your destination. This is my second criticism, though I’m not sure if the novel could have lost 50-100 pages or just needed some action and conflict in the drawn out section. Which is unfortunate, because even though I knew how the book would end, it still gave me chills as I read Novik’s closing sentences. It was that good.

Setting

The description of the Staryk world is nothing short of breathtaking with it’s blinding whiteness and sparkle. The human world is less so but you would not expect it to be as magical. The fey were both fierce and ethereal to the point where the humans would not even guess their weakness – they needed the cold to survive. Summer literally can kill them.

Novik’s fairytale is as rich and complex as a Grimm fairy tale while hitting on some key hashtags for today’s readers.

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