Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik

The lonely old woman next door who died unlamented and left an empty house to rob, with a flock of chickens and a linen chest full of dresses to make over: that’s the only kind of fairy godmother I believed in.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Novik but I had never read anything by her, so I was pleasantly surprised when her new book, Spinning Silver, came up as a Book of the Month selection for July. The cover was absolutely beautiful and the description sounded really interesting: a Rumpelstiltskin re-imagining?? Sign me up!

So let’s get into it right away. This story turned out to be a little different than what I was expecting. For some reason, I thought Spinning Silver would be “classic fairy-tale” – quick and light. The novel is over 400 pages long, but I figured I would soar through it. I could tell from the first couple pages that my expectations were way off… but as I finished the last chapter, I had trouble recalling why I thought in the beginning that I’d be disappointed.

Spinning Silver was really such a surprise and I am so glad that I was in the right mind set to get through it. It is a dense read and one that you really have to pay attention to. The POV switches constantly – sometimes multiple times within the same chapter – and it takes a bit of concentration to re-familiarize yourself with who is speaking (or even just figure out who is speaking since Novik doesn’t label the POVs & kept adding new POVs as the story progressed). I’ve read some negative comments about how this became too confusing, but I did not mind it. I love a story with multiple perspectives and each one was really good.

There was something odd in his face that didn’t stay the same whenever you looked at him twice, as if the edges were constantly melting and re-formed. He wasn’t beautiful, he was terrifying; and then he was beautiful, and then he was both, and I couldn’t decide from one moment to the next which it was.

I did not breeze through Spinning Silver. In fact, it took me over a week to read (which is about 2-3 times longer than it normally takes me to finish a novel). But I’m glad I took my time with it. This one did not grip me from page one and pull me through. In fact, the first half of the book was a little bit of a struggle. I can’t decide if perhaps Novik attempted too many story lines or if there was simply too much description, but the first 200 pages (while beautifully written) wore me out. It is the second half of Spinning Silver that really shined – and it was the last chapter that bumped my rating from 3.5 to 4 spades. I can forgive a lot of faults in a book if it has a really strong ending.

He was nearly my father’s age, and a man who lived almost entirely on the surface. But he wasn’t a fool, or cruel. And more to the point, I was reasonably certain he wasn’t going to devour my soul. My expectations for a husband had lowered.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t call this a summer read at all! To me, it is a ‘read with a glass of wine by the fire in a log cabin’ sort of read. Get cozy & hope no one bothers you for a while. 🙂

4 Spades

4 spades

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18 thoughts on “Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik

  1. Well, I’m glad you liked it in the end. I’ve definitely seen that everyone seems to have the same impression as you on its dense descriptiveness. Apparently, it really could have been edited a lot more from what I’ve heard. I hope to still give it a shot!

    Liked by 1 person

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