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.
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.