Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Naomi Novik
Publisher: Del Rey
When Miryem boasts of her talents as a moneylender, the King of the Staryk demands her to turn his silver into gold. To do so, Miryem turns the Staryk silver into jewelry and sells it to a duke’s daughter, Irina. But with the enchanted silver, Irina captures the eyes of the young tsar, who immediately weds her. Irina soon learns that the tsar is ruled by a demon of fire, and the Staryk King takes Miryem to be his queen. Now both women must outwit their captors if they want to survive, all while being aided by Wanda, a woman who served Miryem in order to care for her own family. These women come together in a plot to stop both demons and, ultimately, to save their kingdom.
Within the novel, both Miryem and Irina marry a demon and must outwit their respective husbands. No one presents the solution to them, and instead they must rely on their own cunning and strength to overcome their trials. These two characters can empower readers to face their own challenges and overcome them. This message carries over to Wanda’s story, and becomes even more powerful. Wanda has an alcoholic father who abuses her and her brothers, and she too discovers her own inner strength to protect herself and her brothers. This storyline is unfortunately real to so many people, and readers can feel inspired by the inner strength of these women and realize that even though things may look dark, there’s always a light that they can fight for.
*Contains mild violence.