I am not a fan of multiple POVs. And no book that hops between three different main characters and one of their brothers should be this good. Because POV hopping, especially amongst three women (two of whom are pretty similar voices) doesn’t give you time to fall in love with the particular voice, the one you’re going to hang your heart on as you follow that character through the trials and tribulations of their story.
But somehow Spinning Silver takes a Duke’s daughter, a Jewish moneylender’s daughter, and the town drunk’s daughter and spins them into a compelling narrative involving the winter-kingdom of the Staryk knights who ride fanged deer, the small-town bitterness and tensions of farming folk, and a fire demon’s quest to destroy winter.
But don’t let that fantastical description fool you. There is magic, yes, and a demon, but really it is about everyday life and taking care of your loved ones.
And what I loved is that the powerful emotions and courage of the three main characters are expressed in the ways they got on with their tasks. Whether it was Wanda deciding to take over Miryem’s money lending duties or Miryem going about turning silver to gold in the most practical, exhausting way necessary, or Wanda getting on with spinning, knitting and cooking porridge in a small house once her whole world had come undone. They all expressed a kind of practical courage that is a powerful example of womens’ strength.
“…the high magic, magic that came only when you made some larger version of yourself with words and promises, and then stepped inside and somehow grew to fill it.”
My love for these characters kind of crept up on me slowly. Miryem is a bit cold and Irina is a bit prickly and Wanda is a bit passive at first. But then I was cheering on as Irina found ways to survive her marriage to the fearful Tsar, and Miryem somehow fulfilled every binding promise to the Staryk, and Wanda made a home for her brothers. At the end I found myself just as reluctant to leave the world Novik had created in Spinning Silver as I’d been when finishing Uprooted.
This is a very, very good book. Because it quietly, and without much fanfare, it weaves the magic of everyday endurance and love with the ice-cold magic of the Staryk. And while it is a different world from Uprooted, it contains the same breathless wonder and difficult love.