3 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
As the third generation of moneylenders, Miryem should have had a comfortable life. However, her father was very bad at collecting the debts and they had slid into poverty. She decides to take these matters into her own hands and begins reclaiming the monies owed to them. She is very good at it and her reputation for turning silver into gold grows. This reputation does not go unnoticed; the king of the Staryk, a race of fey who revel in the cold and ice, arrives at her door and demands that she turns silver into gold for him.
The almost impossible demand is repeated and she draws on the skills of a craftsman to create beautiful pieces of jewellery for a local lord. This Lord has plans to wed his daughter to a Tsar, and her beautiful silver jewellery dazzles the young man. But this Tsar has a secret, he is possessed by a demon and this threatens the lands of human and Staryk alike.
In some ways, this is a modern adaption on the folk tale of Rumpelstiltskin and his gold changing skills, but Novik has stretched it in ways that you wouldn’t expect. There are several subplots going on here as well as the main thread between the primary characters. The story is told from the different characters point of views, which helps with the insight. However. there was no indication to show that you had changed from one to another, so it often took me a paragraph or two to work out who we were seeing the story from.
She has obviously done her research as the two co-joined worlds feel rooted deep in the European landscape of old and yet her world-building means that this feels magical at the same time. I felt the characters were a little two dimensional, mostly as the plot is the key to this book, but as well as switching characters, for me, this felt a bit long. Novik is a very accomplished writer, but I think I preferred Uprooted.