If you haven't yet encountered the writing of Naomi Novik, then you are in for a treat. Rich world building, complex characters, and a story that grows and deepens as it goes to always keep you eager to find out how it all ties together. Novik draws on her Polish heritage and adds in fantasy elements that delight and terrorize in all the right places.
Miryem is the daughter of a Jewish moneylender. When she takes over the collections and does a much better job of it than her father ever did, she attracts the attention of a Staryk lord. The Staryk raid the land of men and steal gold, so when their lord hears Miryem boasting that she can turn silver to gold, he takes her.
Irina is the daughter of a duke, relegated to a cold bedroom at the top of the house with her old nurse. But her father manages to marry her off to the tsar, and puts her life in jeopardy by doing so. Irina knows that the tsar is the son of a witch and suspects him of sorcery. Even being the tsarina will not be enough to save her if he decides he is tired of her.
How do the lives of a kidnapped Jewess with a talent for making money and a young noblewoman who was never out of her father's keeping become intertwined? What do the Staryk, the tsar, and the state of the kingdom have in common? And after all the plots and counter-plots, who will be left alive at the end? You will have to read to find out.
Highly recommended for YA readers who enjoy reimagined fairy tales. This is a combination of Rumpelstiltskin and other elements that fantasy readers will want to hoard like dragon's gold.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
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