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Spinning Silver

Written by: Naomi Novik
Narrated by: Lisa Flanagan
Length: 17 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (145 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller

“One of the year’s strongest fantasy novels” (NPR), an imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale from the best-selling author of Uprooted.

Nebula and Hugo Award Finalist 

Named one of Paste's Best Fantasy Books of the Decade

Named one of the top 10 books of the year by The New York Public Library and one of the best books of the year by: The New York Times Book Review; NPR; Time; Tor.com; PopSugar; Vox; Vulture; Paste; Bustle; Library Journal

With the Nebula Award-winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws listeners deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss. 

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. 

She will face an impossible challenge and, along with two unlikely allies, uncover a secret that threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. 

Praise for Spinning Silver:

'“A perfect tale.... A big and meaty novel, rich in both ideas and people, with the vastness of Tolkien and the empathy and joy in daily life of Le Guin.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Gorgeous, complex, and magical.... This is the kind of book that one might wish to inhabit forever.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Cool and clever and . . . dire and wonderful.” (Laini Taylor, author of Strange the Dreamer)

“The Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale has never been as captivating.... Spinning Silver further cements [Novik’s] place as one of the genre greats.” (Paste

©2018 Naomi Novik (P)2018 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"A perfect tale... This book is about the determination and quiet competence of women doing remarkable things without knowing first that they can do them.... A big and meaty novel, rich in both ideas and people, with the vastness of Tolkien and the empathy and joy in daily life of Le Guin." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Gorgeous, complex, and magical... This is the kind of book that one might wish to inhabit forever." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“Cool and clever and... dire and wonderful.” (Laini Taylor, author of Strange the Dreamer)

“A book as cool and mysterious as a winter’s night, with two marvelous heroines at its heart, Spinning Silver pits the cold of endless winter against the fires of duty, love, and sacrifice. I couldn’t put it down.” (Katherine Arden, New York Times best-selling author of The Bear and the Nightingale)

What members say
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  • Overall
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    4 out of 5 stars

perfect book for the perfect narrator

it's not outrageously fantasy but such a well established lore is rare. Granted some plot device are a but too convenient but they are planted well enough that you would miss them if you are not listening for them.
Liza Flanagan has earned a spot in my top narrator ever, looking forward to her next work in Forsaken

1 person found this helpful

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A bit slow in spots, but overall great!

Sometimes the narrator was a bit flat but here Russian accent added wonderfully to the overall feel of the story. If you like fairytales and want to hear one that feels more ‘realistic’ this is the story for you! #Audible1

1 person found this helpful

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A beautifully woven tale

This was a great book! With each narrator added, it grew like a vivid tapestry in a world both like, and unlike out own.

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  • Jey
  • 2020-05-25

Gorgeous storytelling

I love this book so much and could not put it down. Miryem is such a badass character. My own problem with this story was when it was being told through Varvara’s POV. Super weird and annoying.

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Superb fairy tale reinvention, and great narrator

I love fairy tales, and fairy tale retellings, and this was one of the best I've come across (right up there with Jane Yolen's "Briar Rose"). It has elements of Rumplestiltskin, in that one of the first characters we meet is a young woman (Miryem) whose skill at making money is such that she boasts she can turn silver into gold. Overheard by otherworldly beings (the staryk) who value gold above all else, she is trapped by the staryk king into agreeing to change his purse of silver into gold.

Slowly through the book we're introduced to more characters - Wanda, a peasant girl who comes to work for Miryem, then her parents and brothers; Irina, a duke's daughter to whom Miryem sells some jewelry; and the staryk king and the czar to whom the duke wants to marry Irina, and Irina's nurse. The narrator's perspective starts with Miryem but then slowly changes to some of the others as we meet them. The primary narrators are the three main female characters: Miryem, Wanda, and Irina, but others add in to contribute different perspectives.

Without giving too much plot away, the three women face three similar and inter-related dilemmas of the types women often face - forced marriages, family problems, and powerlessness - and as they find solutions instead of giving up, their plots all tie together.

Overall, loved the writing, enjoyed the constant twists and surprises of the plot, enjoyed the stories about the types of problems that women have historically faced and very much enjoyed that even the "bad" characters aren't just one-dimensional and some of them actually win some sympathy once you learn more about their perspectives. Very much enjoyed this book, even more than Uprooted and the Temeraire series which were also great.

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Beautiful and complex story

Themes of loyalty, worth, belonging, family (found and born) from vastly different but richly explored perspectives make this worth returning to. The voicing of those perspectives by both writer and narrator is brilliantly done.

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A must listen book

I couldn’t stop listening to the story, it wove it’s way magically from character to character with overlapping stories and was amazingly easy to follow. Great story of morals, values and the strength of women.

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Incredible

absolutely wonderful story with a myriad of amazing female main characters. a true twisting retelling of fairy tales I loved reading as a kid
great ending, definitely going to look up the other books by the author and reread!

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Underwhelming

3-stars: better than average book. Lovely characters, good character growth, interesting weaving of fairytales throughout, and an all-round good read.

I just can’t give it four or five stars though. I didn’t really love or hate any of the characters. They were lovely, but not nearly complex. I was never, ever “dying to know what comes next”. Plus, it took a LONG time to get going (the reason that I gave up on it in the past). Normally, I get along quite well with long stories and epics. Unfortunately, I think the only reason that I actually carried on through until the end was that I was reading it for an online read-along challenge.

And finally, it was incredibly difficult to tell the characters apart (especially in the beginning). I was listening to the audiobook and had been warned of this in advance. I read a couple reviews that stated that it was hard to discern the viewpoint even in the book. And still, I struggled. This is definitely something that should have been corrected before going to print. Name the chapter or section after the character who’s voice is narrating that section!! So frustrating - and probably the reason that I didn’t end up identifying or resonating with any of the characters.

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A thoroughly enjoyable experience

Intricately woven details create an enchanting tale that was then performed in a mesmerizing style.

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  • R. W. Olsen
  • 2018-11-30

One of my favorite authors. Only 1 small complaint

I love Naomi Novik and I love this story. Her stand alone stories are magical and hearken back to the best fairy tales. Her Temeraire series is my favorite! That said, this audio book has a flaw. If I am reading the physical book, I see the chapter breaks and I know when we move from one character's perspective to another. In the audio book, there are no such breaks like in some books where a chapter heading is read, or the name of the character in that chapter is read. Since all the chapters are in first person, I got caught a couple of times suddenly realizing that the the person who just said "I went into X room and did Y activity" was not the person I thought because a chapter had switched and because of that the "I" was a different person. Not a fault of the author. Everything else is perfect. The narration is great, and the story is wonderful...but more about the production of the audio book alone. That is it. I love everything else.

210 people found this helpful

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  • Emceecee
  • 2018-08-08

Character shifts were often too subtle and too fast

I enjoyed the story and loved how all the threads tied together at the end. My only issue is with the performance (and it’s minor). The same actress read all the parts nicely, but sometimes when she changed from one to another that were fairly similar, she did it so quickly that, more than once, I had to jump back to try to figure out who was speaking. A longer pause between voice changes would have made it easier to follow.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Episteme
  • 2018-08-09

Her best! For me, anyway.

If your thing is lots of bashing and banging and soldiers and such, or regency style romance, this may not be for you. But if you like tales of good and evil where good prevails, but not in any simplistic way, and characters grow and develop, and things come right in the end, you just might love it as much as I did. Love is crucial, though not romantic love alone. Love and courage and the determination not to give in to greed or fear or even one’s own rage.
The narrator would get five stars from me for her demon voice alone, but she also reads clearly and with meaning, with just a hint of an appropriate accent and just enough differentiation between characters that you follow within a sentence when the author switches between narrative POV. But seriously best demon voice ever.

40 people found this helpful

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  • Angelika
  • 2018-09-01

Too many first-person narrators!

Five people are telling the story! At the beginning of every chapter I have to ask, who is talking now, especially when a new first-person narrator is introduced. The chaperone narrator could have been deleted, without taking much away from story.
The interweaving aspect of religion was unexpected, but part of the plot. Overall a beautiful woven tapestry tale, which leaves a loose end (the ending of the tsar, tsarina and their demon).

27 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-09-26

A well-written story.

I really enjoyed this story even though it was hard to tell sometimes who was speaking. If the narrator had given just a little more pause in between character shifts I would have given her more stars.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Karen Carlson
  • 2018-11-17

great story but character voices all sound same

great story line but struggled when they changed characters, voices all sounded the same was difficult to keep up with who was who.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Roy
  • 2018-09-25

Started Strong and Lost Momentum

Really a fun inversion of the fairy tale, especially initially. The twists and turns of the plot early on really grabbed our attention, but near the end the story doubled back on itself too many times and it felt as if things could have been streamlined. The scenes from the perspective of the "mother" figure in particular dragged a bit. Still a lot of fun and worth reading.

9 people found this helpful

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  • T. Winter
  • 2018-07-12

Dark and Magical

This was darker than Uprooted, but equally excellent. The somber tone was perhaps because of the narrator, who had a faint, Eastern European tone of worldliness and disillusionment. She was absolutely excellent, and perfectly matched to the tone of the story.

The imagery is a feast for the senses . . . dark forests, villages full of harsh realities and secrets, and forbidden carriage roads 'gleaming like the top of the river in winter when the snow had blown clear.' Strange tracks in the snow outside the house, oddly shaped and made by a creature not known to man, and footprints leading up to a window . . . these are just a few hints of things you will find on your journey into this world.

Every word is captivating. Every paragraph leaves you wanting to know what comes next. And all the while, you are living this fairy tale.

Truly, the experience of this book was magnificent. It is exactly, exactly what I hoped for from Novik.

49 people found this helpful

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  • Jaime
  • 2018-11-08

Beautiful, if a little confusing

A gorgeous tapestry that weaves together elements of several fairy tails without ever losing its soul to any single one, with overarching themes that tie the storylines together and ends in an unexpected twist on an old and familiar tale.

My only complaint is that the story is told entirely in 1st person - all six (or more) points of view. Really, is that ever a good idea in a complex novel? It’s hard to keep straight which “I” is currently speaking and contextual clues sometimes take a few lines to cue into the change in POV. Who is speaking, Irena? Wanda? Miriam? One of the others? The narrator was good, but she didn’t change her voice between the POV characters, so it provides no clue when someone else was speaking.

All that being said, this is definitely a book worth listening to, and I’ll probably come back to it a couple of times. The Russian lilt and the cadence of the telling are beautiful, and I look forward to finding the bits of foreshadowing scattered through the narrative like bits of Staryk silver.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Verna Knapp
  • 2018-09-08

Voice too soft to hear much of the time

I shall have to return this, as the reader is so quiet that I only heard snatches. I turned up the volume all the way, but could not hear enough. Also, there are multiple female characters, and all were read with the same voice, which made it hard to figure out which character was speaking.

29 people found this helpful