Book: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father's inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.
When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk--grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh--Miryem's fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.
But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love. -Goodreads
Review: I absolutely LOVED Uprooted and was so excited for this book. I saved this for last on our summer vacation. After burning through 8 books in 8 days I got to this one and...it took me over 2 weeks to finish it. I just had to check the page count on Goodreads because I can't believe it was only 466 pages, I would have estimated 1.5k. It started off good enough with Miryem, the daughter of an ineffective moneylender, taking over her father's business. I really admired Miryem's business sense and desire to support her family. She eventually hires Wanda, a peasant girl in town who has an abusive father to help around the house and eventually with the money lending business. While the girls weren't friends, I admired the work they did together. Another storyline (it all eventually ties in together) involved Irina, the daughter of a wealthy nobleman who is married off to a sinister Tsar. Lurking within the woods (in a different kingdom but they can travel back and forth) near all of these young women are Staryk (I couldn't help thinking about them as White Walkers from GoT). Miryem attracts the Stark kings attention with her ability to turn silver into gold and finds herself on a dangerous track that involves all of them.
Okay-sounds pretty interesting, right? It was, at first. The world building (medieval times in eastern Europe/Russian area) was pretty interesting. The Staryk were plenty creepy. I loved the idea that Miryem was a version Rumpelstiltskin. The book just really became monotonous and dragged for what seemed like 1k+ pages. I was so bored I had to force myself to finish it. It lacked the humor of Uprooted and there was some romance thrown in toward the end that didn't seem believable. There are multiple points of view from Miryem, Wanda and Irina. Additional points of view were added as the book went on and it was just a little odd that we all of a sudden were getting chapters from Wanda's brother's viewpoint. There was even a random bit from Irina's husband.
This book is very highly rated and I wish I could do the same. This was a complete "miss" for me. I will continue to read what Novak has planned next because she is a talented writer.