Fiction Pet Peeves

Hello, friends! I’m in a grumpy Monday kind of mood, so today I’m going to talk about some of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to fiction. Let me know some of yours in the comments. What little things immediately pull you out of a scene and make you cringe? In no particular order, here are some of mine…

Over-use of Slang to Establish Setting or Mood

A prime example of this for me is Libba Bray’s Diviners series. This series seems to be super beloved in the book blogging community, and I’m not trying to trash it as a whole. I enjoyed the story itself well enough, but it got to the point where it sometimes felt like every other word was “fella” or “doll.” With a lot of authors, slang is so overused that it makes their characters feel like caricatures. Pepper in just a little bit of it and call it a day; otherwise it sticks out like a sore thumb.

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Love at first sight can be cute and done well, it’s just that it usually… isn’t. Just because the characters fall in love quickly doesn’t mean the audience doesn’t need to see the reasons they love each other. Even worse, however, is when characters who hate one another seemingly flip overnight because searing hated seems to be confused with sexual tension. Relationships between characters take as much development as the characters themselves; there are no shortcuts with this. This seems particularly prominent in YA, but I think it bothers me less in that context because I think a lot of teens are constantly “falling in love” at the drop of a hat. (I’m not judging; I was totally guilty of this.)

Gorgeous Female Characters made “Relatable” by Making Them Clumsy

Why is this such a trope? Authors write a gorgeous female protagonist (bonus points if she’s somehow blissfully unaware that she’s even remotely acceptable looking) who seems to be desired by all the male characters in sight. Then faced with the question of how to make this character feel more flawed and relatable, nine times out of ten, they just make her physically and/or socially awkward. Female characters can be flawed in just as many ways as male characters. It’s time to branch out a bit.

Male Authors with No Idea How to Write a Human Woman

We’ve all read books with female characters that would never have been written by a woman. The most recent book that had this effect on me was Artemis, by Andy Weir. I was in love with The Martian so I bought Artemis when it came out without even reading the blurb first. Then I started reading, and the female protagonist was… Mark Watney 2.0. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Mark Watney, but if I want to read about him, I can just read The Martian again. In Artemis, 99% of his personality was just imposed onto Jazz, and I couldn’t stop hearing Mark Watney’s voice through the whole book. It definitely pulled me out of the novel and diminished my ability to enjoy what was actually a pretty fun heist story.

Protagonists Internally Monologuing about Their Appearance

This is just lazy writing. We’ve all read scenes where the protagonist wakes up in the morning and goes to the bathroom mirror to begin getting ready for their day. They then take this opportunity to list all of their features for the reader’s benefit. (Bonus points if this is combined with the previous bullet point, where a male author can’t write women, and the protagonist proceeds to describe herself in an awkwardly sexual tone. No. Just no.)

A lot of the time, this awkward method of relaying information isn’t even giving us information that we need. A story doesn’t often require the reader to have an in-depth understanding of each character’s appearance. Things that impact how the character interacts with the world in a meaningful way should, of course, be prioritized. Is the character living in a society that’s racist towards their particular demographic? Are they ridiculously attractive or unattractive? Average and forgettable? Super short? This is information we probably need. What we don’t need is a female protagonist admiring the curve of her own hip as she stands in front of a full-length mirror in a nightgown. (Seriously, why do men write these kinds of scenes?)

Toxic, Creepy Relationships in YA

It’s 2018 and I’m still mad about Twilight, you guys. But honestly, petition for a genre marketed to young girls to stop romanticizing stalking, controlling behavior, men with anger issues, ridiculous power imbalances, etc. Give teenage girls healthy relationships as examples. Give teenage girls examples of female characters running the other way when they see these giant red flags waving all over the place.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these were some things that were on my mind today. Let’s discuss in the comments! What are some of your biggest pet peeves? Do you feel differently about any of the things I’ve listed here?

Thanks for reading!

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Review – Salt for Air, by M. C. Frank


Salt for Air
by M. C. Frank

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Length: 275 Pages

Release date: October 23, 2018

Synopsis: 

Greek mythology meets The Little Mermaid in this delicious fantasy novel about a quiet, nerdy girl who meets a mer prince in her bathroom. Perfect for fans of The Heroes of Olympus and the Lux series.

Seventeen-year-old Ellie dreams of mermen. She writes fanfiction about them and spends time in underwater kingdoms in her imagination, trying to escape the sad reality: she is an orphan. And not only that, but she’s bullied every day at school -she’s a nerd, she hates sports, she loves books and she used to be overweight. What’s not to bully?

One day, the bullies go too far. They try to drown her, but at the last minute an otherworldly creature shows up in the water. He keeps her breathing and tells her to live: “How will you be able to save anyone if you can’t even save yourself?”

She thinks it was a dream, but the emerald-eyed merman boy who rescued her appears in her school the next day. Is he really the exiled prince of an ancient kingdom that’s on the brink of utter destruction? And is he asking her to save him? Or is something far more sinister and deadly lurking in the water that surrounds her little Greek town?

When myth and reality collide, can love save their lives?

rating

two

My thanks to the author, M. C. Frank for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Writing negative reviews for indie authors is painful. I truly went into this book with an open mind; I read a sample of the first few chapters before receiving an ARC, and I thought the story had a lot of promise. Ellie, the protagonist is a really sympathetic character. She’s somewhat of an outsider at school and is mourning the death of her father when the story opens. She uses fandom as a means of mental escape, and spends most of her free time writing fanfiction. Ellie was overweight before the start of the story, and the other kids at school gave her an extremely hard time about it.

But now that I’m no longer overweight, here’s what I found out:
1. I don’t care. I don’t care what those people thought or what they called me. There are so many other things to care about. Good things, worthy things. Serious things. And small-minded, cruel people are none of these.
2. I hate how I got skinny. I hate that I lost the weight by forgetting to eat between hospital visits, and then not being able to eat because he wasn’t there. He still isn’t. He never will be. So what’s the point in being anything at all?
3. They’re still making fun of me.

I think this was a strong point of the novel; Frank has run with the anti-bullying theme in a big way, and while it can sometimes get heavy-handed, it’s a really good overall message. Bullies are rarely portrayed in anything other than an explicitly negative light in fiction, but Frank takes it a step further by making it a point to place the focus on Ellie in a very particular way. The trait that had apparently triggered the bullying in the first place no longer exists, but the bullying continues. The underlying message here is clear: kids can be habitually harassed for no particular reason. The bullies may latch onto a particular kid because they seem insecure, and any particular trait that they use to belittle them may be purely incidental. Ellie was the bullied fat kid who lost all the weight, and it didn’t make any difference. She was targeted simply because she was vulnerable.

However, as the story progresses, it doesn’t feel like any meaningful character development happens. When the supernatural aspect of the story becomes apparent, Ellie never seems to progress beyond the stage of constant bewilderment. Usually in stories where the main character is thrown into a supernatural narrative, they hit a certain point where they are no longer shocked by each new magical revelation. They accept whatever paranormal reality exists in the novel and they roll with it. Ellie never hits that point. She is either distraught over the loss of her father or in a state of “OMG, is this really happening?!? I think this might actually be happening!” Those are her two main mental states, punctuated occasionally by thirsting after Ky, the merman.

And speaking of Ky, this is where the story really lost me. I have a big issue with YA romances that feature a cocky, self-centered boy with an insecure, isolated girl. Why is this such a trope? Frank attempts to make Ky sympathetic by emphasizing the danger he’s faced his whole life and by giving him occasional moments where he is fiercely protective of Ellie, but the overall impression I got of him was still quite negative. Ellie dislikes everything about him other than his appearance early in the book, and while she ends up falling for him seemingly overnight, Frank does not succeed in making the reader do the same. Ky is being hunted by the villains of the story, but I was never given a compelling reason to hate or fear those villains or to root for Ky’s survival. Consequently, the story lacked the tension it was aiming to create.

Spoilers for the following section.

One of my biggest problems with this novel comes late in the story. Ellie and Ky have fallen in love, and Ky must return to his own world to be their king. There is a war going on, and he will not be able to return to Ellie’s world. She must go with him or never see him again. Ellie has no living close family members. She feels like a burden to the people she lives with, and she has no friends at all. She has been unspeakably depressed for quite some time. In short, she has no compelling reason to want to stay in her own world as opposed to going with Ky. There is an attempt to make this seem like a difficult choice; there is no death in Ky’s world, and Ellie is concerned about going there and giving up the possibility of being reunited with her father in the afterlife. Even this reasoning kind of falls flat, however. Ky would be unable to come back to our world because he is a leader in a high-stakes war; Ellie does not have a similar reason that would make her decision to go to Ky’s world necessarily permanent. Ellie seems to look at this as an irrevocable decision, but nothing in the narrative itself seems to designate it as such.

All that being said, the build-up in the story which causes the reader to view this as a choice Ellie needs to make (and perhaps an opportunity for some much needed character development) is all a fake-out. Ellie never gets to make this decision for herself. She is injured badly and unlikely to survive unless Ky takes her to his world, where his magic will allow him to heal her in ways he cannot in her own world. Ky decides to take her rather than let her die. Once there, Ellie doesn’t even seem to have any complicated feelings about the fact that such a monumental decision has been taken from her.

End of spoilers.

All that being said, there is a definite audience for this book; it just wasn’t me. Fans of the Shadowhunters series or Twilight might have a hard time putting this one down.

Salt for Air can be purchased through Amazon.

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Review – Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, by Balli Kaur Jaswal


Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows 
by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Length: 304 Pages

Release date: March 9, 2017

Synopsis: 

A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.

Every woman has a secret life . . .

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police.” But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

rating

four

“Out of all the opportunities Britain offered us, choice was the most important thing.” 

This novel was such a pleasant surprise for me. It was the Girly Book Club selection for October, and definitely not something I would have picked out for myself. For those who may be wondering like I was, yes, this book does contain actual erotic stories. The main narrative is broken up with samples of the short stories composed by the widows in Nikki’s class. If this would make you uncomfortable, this may not be the book for you; while it would be easy to skip over these passages, I feel you’d miss something crucial to the heart of the novel, as these stories often reveal things about the characters who tell them.

This was an immensely character-driven novel. While I expected to mainly connect with Nikki from the very beginning, I was surprised by the extent of my affection for the widows in her class by the time I finished the book. These older women feel isolated in more ways than one. They are immigrants in Britain and feel unwelcome there. They were relegated to the role of “wife” within the Indian community, and feel discarded after the loss of their husbands. They are lonely, bored, and simply looking for a way to fill their time with other women like themselves when they find their way to Nikki’s class.

Nikki is a huge contrast from these characters; born and raised in Britain and living in London away from the Punjabi community, she is excessively “modern” for their tastes, and struggles to connect with them. Watching her relationship with these women develop as they find a mutual sense of affection and respect was easily one of the major highlights of the novel.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is imbued with feminist themes, Indian culture, generational clashes, a bit of mystery… and more than a splash of romance. It’s thoroughly enjoyable and fun.

Purchase links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Thanks for reading! What was the last book you picked up that was outside of your comfort zone, and what was your experience with it?

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Review – Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman


Britt-Marie Was Here
by Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Length: 324 Pages

Release date: May 3, 2016

Synopsis: 

Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. A disorganized cutlery drawer ranks high on her list of unforgivable sins. She is not one to judge others—no matter how ill-mannered, unkempt, or morally suspect they might be. It’s just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention. But hidden inside the socially awkward, fussy busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams, and a warmer heart that anyone around her realizes.

When Britt-Marie walks out on her cheating husband and has to fend for herself in the miserable backwater town of Borg—of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it—she finds work as the caretaker of a soon-to-be demolished recreation center. The fastidious Britt-Marie soon finds herself being drawn into the daily doings of her fellow citizens, an odd assortment of miscreants, drunkards, layabouts. Most alarming of all, she’s given the impossible task of leading the supremely untalented children’s soccer team to victory. In this small town of misfits, can Britt-Marie find a place where she truly belongs?

rating

four

“One morning you wake up with more life behind you than in front of you, not being able to understand how it’s happened.”

Britt-Marie Was Here was my second book my Fredrik Backman, the first being the wildly successful A Man Called Ove. I was a bit surprised by the striking similarities in themes between the two books, even considering that they both come from the same author. Ove and Britt-Marie are both older protagonists struggling to cope with a fundamental sense of loneliness for the first time in their adult lives. They are both uptight curmudgeons who find love and meaning in places they didn’t expect, finding themselves fundamentally changed in the process.

That being said, Britt-Marie Was Here is very much its own story. Britt-Marie is not dealing with the death of a spouse, but with the dawning realization that she is not being treated the way she deserves. After years of marriage, after devoting the bulk of one’s adult life to a partner, what a terrifying prospect: it’s all been all wrong. Fundamentally, irreparably, wrong. Britt-Marie packs a suitcase, leaves the home she’s shared with her husband, and sets out to find a job after spending her life as a homemaker. This brings her to Borg.

Britt-Marie obtains a position as a caretaker of the rec center, where she meets a colorful cast of characters who have more to teach her than she could possibly guess. The most important lesson she must learn is this: it is never too late. It’s never too late to turn around a football match, to make new friends, to visit the city you’ve always wanted to see… to stand up for yourself and realize that a spouse who doesn’t value you doesn’t deserve you. Britt-Marie’s story is told with the charming blend of humor and poignancy which made Backman’s A Man Called Ove such a success.

Britt-Marie Was Here is perfect for fans of…

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A human being, any human being at all, has so perishingly few chances to stay right there, to let go of time and fall into the moment. And to love someone without measure, explode with passion… A few times when we are children, maybe, for those of us who are allowed to be… But after that? How many breaths are we allowed to take beyond the confines of ourselves? How many pure emotions make us cheer out loud without a sense of shame? How many chances do we get to be blessed by amnesia? All passion is childish, it’s banal and naive, it’s nothing we learn, it’s instinctive, and so it overwhelms us… Overturns us… It bears us away in a flood… All other emotions belong to the earth, but passion inhabits the universe. That is the reason why passion is worth something. Not for what it gives us, but for what it demands that we risk – our dignity, the puzzlement of others in their condescending shaking heads…

Purchase links

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Thank you for reading! Have you read any of Backman’s work? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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WWW Wednesday 10/17/2018

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, just answer the following three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m currently reading…

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The Sisters Hemmingway, by Annie England Noblin
This is an ARC I’m reading for the blogging I do for The Girly Book Club. It’s the story of three sisters who are going back to their hometown for the first time in years for the funeral of the aunt who raised them. I’m enjoying this one so far. I will have a review posted here when the book comes out in February.

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be, by Rachel Hollis
Self help type books aren’t really my thing, but a few girls from my book club were raving about this one, so I decided to give it a chance. It’s not really doing much for me, honestly, although to be fair, that may be because large chunks of it are related to parenting and I’m sitting here happily childless like, “…can’t relate.”

I recently finished reading…

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Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman
This was my second book by Backman, the first being A Man Called Ove. I really enjoyed this novel, although perhaps not as much as A Man Called Ove. Both books have a lot of similarities; a curmudgeonly older protagonist who is lonely and finds love and meaning in an unexpected place. I will have a full review up soon.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, by Hank Green
I’ve always found John Green’s work to be overrated (sorry if you love his books, but they’re just not for me), but I was a bit curious about what Hank would produce. I was seriously pleasantly surprised by this one. What a fun, weird novel! This is categorized on GoodReads as YA, but I’d consider it more New Adult, and I think it can be enjoyable for a wide age range. Read my review here.

Salt for Air, by M. C. Frank
The author sent me a copy of this for her upcoming release. I haven’t written a review yet because I’m still kind of gathering my thoughts. It’s a YA novel about a lonely teenage girl who finds herself face to face with the subject of her fanfiction. This wasn’t really for me, but I can see it appealing to Twilight‘s fanbase. Review to come soon.

Muse of Nightmares, by Laini Taylor
This was the sequel to Strange The Dreamer and definitely a worthy follow-up in my opinion. Excellent character development, immersive world building, and the answers to many questions left from the first book make this a page-turner. If you’re new to the series, read my review for Strange the Dreamer here. My review for Muse of Nightmares is here.

The Dreamers, by Karen Thompson Walker
This was an ARC for a book coming in January. I had really mixed feelings about it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but when I got to the end and looked back, the story felt really thin and lacking in resolution. The novel is about a mysterious sleeping sickness that breaks out in a college town. It was lovely with dreamy, lyrical writing, but I wanted answers at the end that I never got. Nevertheless, it felt worth reading.

Up next…

House of Gold, by Natasha Solomons

This is a title coming later this month which I received through NetGalley. (This is a repeat from last week’s WWW Wednesday, because I’m terrible at TBRs. But I totally mean it this time.)

“From the New York Times bestselling author of The House at Tyneford, an epic family saga about a headstrong Austrian heiress who will be forced to choose between the family she’s made and the family that made her at the outbreak of World War I.

Vienna, 1911. Twenty-one-year-old Greta Goldbaum has always hungered after what’s forbidden: secret university lectures, unseemly trumpet lessons, and most of all, the freedom to choose her life’s path.

The Goldbaum family has different expectations. United across Europe by unsurpassed wealth and power, Goldbaum men are bankers, while Goldbaum women marry Goldbaum men to produce Goldbaum children. Greta will do her part.

So Greta moves to England to wed Albert, a distant cousin. The marriage is not a success. Yet, when Albert’s mother gives Greta a garden, things at Temple Court begin to change. First Greta falls in love with her garden, then with England, and finally with her husband. But when World War I sends both Albert and Greta’s beloved brother, Otto, to the front lines–one to fight for the Allies, one to fight for the Central Powers–the House of Gold is left vulnerable as never before, and Greta must choose: the family she’s created or the one she was forced to leave behind.

Set against a nuanced portrait of World War I, this is a sweeping family saga rich in historical atmosphere and heartbreakingly human characters. House of Gold is Natasha Solomons’s most dazzling and moving novel yet.”

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What are you reading this week? Any thoughts on the books listed in this post?  Please feel free to discuss or share WWW links in the comments!

Review – Muse of Nightmares, by Laini Taylor


Muse of Nightmares
by Laini Taylor

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Length: 528 Pages

Release date: October 2, 2018

Synopsis: 

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Timesbestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

rating

five

“Once upon a time there was a silence that dreamed of becoming a song, and then I found you, and now everything is music.” 

Reading a highly anticipated sequel is a somewhat scary prospect, in a way. Will it live up to the first book or will it ruin the series for you? Laini Taylor delivers a worthy followup to Strange the Dreamer with Muse of Nightmares. Taylor has the rare talent of crafting a story which hinges on some extremely dark themes (including but not limited to rape, slavery, and the murder of children) without the overall tale feeling overwhelmingly dark. Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares are both imbued with a magical sense of light and hope.

Taylor introduces two new major characters in Muse of Nightmares, Kora and Nova, which makes the story feel fresh. It’s difficult to say much about this aspect of the story without getting into spoilers, but suffice it to say that the two are sisters with a deep, unbreakable bond. Like many characters in the world of Strange the Dreamer, their lives were thrown into turmoil by Skathis.

Arguably the most interesting character in this installment is Minya, however. Strange the Dreamer left us with a somewhat one dimensional image of the vengeance-driven little girl. This book introduces more nuance to her character and explores how the responsibilities of caring for the other godspawn as a child herself and in the wake of a hugely traumatic event has warped her emotions. Strange the Dreamer shows Minya has wrathful, perhaps irredeemable; Muse of Nightmares asks us to sympathize with her. Minya has some of the best character development in the duology in this book.

As in Strange the Dreamer, the world building in this novel is enchanting and immersive. The last page will leave you wishing to spend more time in this magical universe of Taylor’s creation.

Purchase links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Thank you for reading! Have you read Muse of Nightmares? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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Review – Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik


Spinning Silver
by Naomi Novik

Genre: Fantasy, Retellings

Length: 480 Pages

Release date: July 10, 2018

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.

rating

three

“But I had not known that I was strong enough to do any of those things until they were over and I had done them. I had to do the work first, not knowing.” 

Spinning Silver is a creative and enchanting re-imagining of the Rumpelstiltskin story. I really wanted to enjoy this book as much as it seems everyone else does; I definitely understand the appeal, but there were some things that simply didn’t work for me. Primarily, Novik is wrestling with what felt like too many POV characters; not all of these perspectives felt necessary. Miryem (the moneylender’s daughter), Wanda (a girl hired by Miryem’s family to work off her father’s debt), and Irina (the daughter of a duke) are the primary POV characters. Once Novik veers away from these perspectives, the story seems less engaging.

The number of perspectives also had the effect of bogging down the pace. (Listen, I love long fantasy novels. Brandon Sanderson has never let me down, and that man churns out pages like he’s single-handedly trying to kill the rainforest. Those novels never feel long to me, despite often being over 1,000 pages. Spinning Silver felt long to me, despite being under 500.)

That being said, there was a lot to like about this book as well. First and foremost, Spinning Silver features numerous strong female characters, with agency and nuance. Miryem was arguably the best developed and most sympathetic of the three. She takes on the duty of collecting her father’s debts of her own accord, because her father can’t or won’t do so. To prevent her family from starving, she feels she must make herself cold and somewhat unfeeling; she cannot accept excuses from her father’s debtors, or suddenly everyone will have excuses, and Miryem won’t have money to buy food to help her sick mother get well again. This is only the beginning of her troubles, and as the story progresses, she finds herself victim to the mysterious Staryk King, who rules the fey-like race that wreaks havoc of Miryem’s world.

Novik’s mythology is interesting; she draws on the folklore around Rumpelstiltskin for inspiration, but she weaves a whole new world around it. The result is a pretty balanced mixture of the comfortable and the strange. Spinning Silver may be an excellent choice for fans of The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss of American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

Purchase links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Thank you for reading! How do you feel about fairy tale retellings? Have you read any that you felt improved upon the original inspiration? Discuss in the comments!

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