And, for those of you running an ad blocker, here's the GORGEOUS cover image:
Is that not a GORGEOUS cover image?
Greetings to all my internet friends and neighbors, and for those of you who are counting down with me to the Dragon Awards, IT’S THE LAST REVIEW! (even if it is a bit of a cheat...sorry.) And to any of my family checking in, okay, NOW you can ask. Please, though: one at a time?
First: what an absolutely GORGEOUS cover!
I suppose there have been others as aware, maybe even MORE aware, of the ticking clock than I have been over the past 25 days. There are people who have had some REALLY important things going on in their lives, and I think it’s worth remembering. While I have been gnawing my leg off to get out of the trap of having to read works nominated for an award (O, woe is me!), other people have awaited the results of medical tests, legal decisions, college admissions, bank loans; all KINDS of things. Right now, in fact, my oldest grandson and his beloved are wondering if they are going to have this baby today, or next week, or what.
So, put in perspective, this has been zip.
Still, it HAS been the defining feature of my August. And, at this very moment, it’s 4:25 PM Eastern, and the voting closes in 7 hours and 34 minutes, and: I’m done.
You see, I’ve got my grandson Tre sitting next to me, and we are eating peanuts so we can spoil our appetites. And, my daughters Carmen and Jennifer just came into town from Washington, D.C., and my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, have MISSED them.
In other words, I have other reasons, beside the deadline, to want this review posted.
And so, I resorted to an ANCIENT reading trick I used last WELL more than a half century ago: after reading enough of the book to find out what the story was going to be, I, um, well, you see…
I skipped to the end, and read the last chapters so I could see how it was going to come out.
There, I said it.
I really just needed to know if the beauty and skill of the first quarter of the book was going to be sustained. I was hoping that would be the case, that the promise of a good story would be delivered on. And it WAS!! I’m not going to spoil it for you, but in this case, what begins well, ends well.
I also grabbed up my resource lists, and I ripped through them to see what Respected Others, and Disrespected Others, had to say about the book. I needed confirmation, you see. And, what I found was that the people who have a good head on their shoulders consistently raved about how lovely this was; the idiots foamed at the mouth. And both of those are ringing endorsements.
So, here we go:
Miryem’s father is a moneylender, and he’s not very good at it. You could call it soft-hearted, if you wanted to, I suppose. However, I spent a LOT of time in sales and marketing, and I’d have to say the guy just isn’t a very good closer. You HAVE to be able to ask for your money.
Particularly when you are a Jew, and most professions are closed off to you; and there is a need for cash, and the Gentiles are prohibited by church law from loaning money at interest.
But, whether soft-hearted, soft-headed, or just not cut out for the job, he can’t get it done. So, Miryem, seeing her mother sick from too much cold and no food, gets the job done. And, it turns out that she’s good at it.
Wanda’s farmer is a drunkard. He borrowed money from the moneylender to get medicine for his sick wife, drank and gambled most of it up, and what he had left wasn’t enough to help. So, she died, along with the newborn babe, and was buried under the white tree. This did NOT improve things for Wanda and her two little brothers; they were just BARELY scraping by, until Miryem shows up to demand repayment of the loan. When she sees they really have no means to repay, she instructs Wanda’s father that she’ll accept a half-day of labor from Wanda in exchange for a half-penny reduction of the amount he owes. Although it is not readily apparent, this deal DELIGHTS Wanda, who will escape beatings from her drunken father, as well as get fed at least one good meal per day, as well as what she can forage from the stale bread for the chickens. As time goes by, Wanda makes a way to earn money for herself, and for her brother as well.
Irinuska’s father is a nobleman. Having married once for love, and then lost her in childbirth, he is resolved not to love again, so Irinushka has a permanent last place, after the step-mother with the huge dowry, and the two tiny step-brothers. She can benefit him in no way, until he is presented with a chance to marry her off to the insane tsar.
I read enough to know that this is an EXCELLENT story, and well-told. I read enough to know that the author has the skill to make a situation look like one thing, only to discover that it’s something else entirely. I read enough to know that this book will NOT be a DNF (Did Not Finish), but a NFY (Not Finished Yet).
Alas, I DO have this deadline. And, in the faint hope that this last review will be of a benefit, I submit it to you, as is.
As for The Question: Is “Spinning Silver” a worthy choice for the 2019 Dragon Award in the category of Best Fantasy Novel?
My opinion: Oh, heck yeah. In fact, the fairy-tale aspect (the story is, I believe, derived from the Rumplestiltskin story) makes this the most charming of the lot. I don’t know if that’s what YOU are looking for in a fantasy; in fact, I don’t know if that makes it a better contender for the award. However, it really is a strong contender.
Peace be on your household.