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  1. Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s too kind-hearted to collect his debts. They face poverty, until Miryem hardens her own heart and takes up his work in their village. Her success creates rumours she can turn silver into gold, which attract the fairy king of winter himself. He sets her an impossible challenge – and if she fails, she’ll die. Yet if she triumphs, it may mean a fate worse than death. And in her desperate efforts to succeed, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in the unhappy daughter of a lord. Irina’s father schemes to wed her to the tsar – he will pay any price to achieve this goal. However, the dashing tsar is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of mortals and winter alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and Irina embark on a quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power and love. Loosely based on Rumplestiltskin with a hefty dose of Jewish folklaw, a powerful imagination and some very strong female characters, this is a wonderful book. It passes the Bechdel test hands down, the main characters are all strong women, three of them not two, and when they do talk about men it's not about attracting them - won't say what for risk of spoliers, and the plot twists and turns in some unexpected and satisfying directions. So there's a bit of happy-ever-afterness at the end, this is a traditional tale after all, but it's on the women's terms, not anyone else's so isn't too cloying. Theonly minor quibble I'd have is the amount of head hopping - it didn't worry me but I know that lots of people hate that, however I'd recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy.
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