The book: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
The summary: It’s the story of (mostly) three women: A woman who discovers she can turn silver into gold — but this apparent blessing may be more of a curse as it attracts the attention of the mythical Staryk (think White Walkers). A woman who marries the Czar and discovers secrets she’d feared for years. And a woman who escapes an abusive father. All three of the stories intertwine rather brilliantly.
The review: I have a strange relationship with Naomi Novik’s fantasy novels Spinning Silver and Uprooted.
I love her writing. I love how she blends magic and other fantasy elements so seamlessly into a world that feels real (particularly in Spinning Silver where it’s essentially a clone of medieval Eastern Europe, down to having a Czar and even real world religions like Judaism, which the main POV character practices).
However, there’s always something in her books that just sort of ruins them for me.
In Uprooted it was the unnecessary romance between the protagonist and her mentor.
In Spinning Silver it was the ending. I won’t give spoilers suffice it to say it was predictable, cliched, and I dare say even uninspired. From the moment Miryem asks the Staryk king what she’ll get if she turns the silver into gold I was afraid the story would end with what Novik went with. I was practically BEGGING the story to not end this way as I read it. Alas, it did, and it ruined the book for me. I regret spending time reading this.
Also, the second most important POV character doesn’t get much of an ending. It feels extremely rushed. It’s very much. “We beat the Big Bad. Bye!” We don’t get their emotional reaction to any of it.
If you’re a fan of well-written fantasy I’d read this until about 3/4ths of the way and then stop, then imagine your own ending. You’ll enjoy this book much more that way.