Spinning Silver

This standalone fantasy from Naomi Novik (Uprooted, the Temeraire series) spins the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, along with sundry Russian and German folkloric fibers, into a solid gold yarn.
Miryem learns kind men make terrible moneylenders when her father's inability to convince their neighbors to make good on their debts leaves her family destitute and hungry and her mother ill. Iron-willed, the girl sets out to collect on accounts herself, saving her family and becoming a formidable businesswoman in the process. With an ill-considered boast about turning copper and silver into gold, Miryem intrigues the king of the Staryk (cruel frost elves whose magic makes winter longer and harsher), who catches her in a terrible bargain. She must change the disdainful king's magic silver into gold pieces three times. If she fails, he will freeze her to death, but if she succeeds, he will make her his unwilling queen. Caught up in Miryem's plight are Wanda, an honest farm girl working off her drunken, abusive father's debt in Miryem's employ, and Irina, a clever, plain-faced noblewoman whose father would gladly marry her to the monstrous young tsar if it meant his own political advancement.
Though loosely inspired by Rumpelstiltskin, Novik weaves her own rich spell of filial loyalty, political intrigue and fairyland logic. Her three heroines each have their own brand of toughness and intelligence, surviving primarily by their wits with occasional help from each other. Spinning Silver delivers the lush, smart escapism yearned for by any fantasy fan. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager, main branch, Dayton Metro Library
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