Book Review – Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

Review:

Took me a while to get around to this, but I absolutely adored it. The story was absolutely delightful and the setting was so charming. I was so hooked I had to force myself to put it down as I knew if I didn’t, I’d stay up all night until I finished.

The setting, like Uprooted, is absolutely charming and I love the Slavic influences. It still retained the fairytale like feel throughout the novel despite the length of it and I was completely carried away into the story.

The highlight of this novel though is definitely the fantastic female characters. The three main ones are all brilliant in their own ways and I also really enjoyed the fact that Miryem actually has both her parents and a happy family. Miryem is also Jewish which is an integral part of her character and is shown observing Shabbat.

There are a couple different plot threads that weave together and interlink and I really enjoyed watching them come together at the end. As mentioned, I really struggled to put this down as it was one of those “just one more chapter” books – especially as it jumped between the characters so I’d tell myself “Oh I’ll just read this next bit”.

As this is a standalone, it’s a fantastic book to start with if you’ve not read anything by Naomi Novik yet. It’s difficult to decide which I liked best – this or Uprooted but I highly recommend them both.

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Book Review – In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of the Dominion of the Fallen series comes a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land…

A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village’s debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.

A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn’s amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets…

Review:

So, after my long hiatus I’m back to blogging! This is the first book I read in 2019 and I figured what better day to break my hiatus and blog about it than on the start of the Lunar New Year.

This is a beautiful f/f/ retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a Vietnamese inspired setting that is enchanting. The Vanisher’s Palace is an incredible setting and very bizarre but interesting to read about.

I loved all the characters, although as it’s a novella I felt we didn’t get enough time with them all. Their character growth was a bit rushed and I would have liked more time with them, although that’s a testament of how much I enjoyed it as a good book always leaves you wanting more.

I’m a huge fan of Aliette de Bodard’s work and would definitely recommend this as a nice taste of her work. Really though, I’d recommend everything I’ve read by her so far with my favourite definitely being the Xuya Universe.