The New Rumpelstiltskin: A Review of Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik

The fairy tale is one of those story types which never goes out of fashion, with authors always reinventing the tales for the newer generations.  In Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik takes on the classic tale of Rumpelstiltskin.  Everyone knows the name, if not the spelling or the story beats.  A father boasts about his daughter’s ability to spin straw into gold.  A local king who takes the daughter and tasks her with the impossible feat of transforming three storerooms into gold.  The imp who arrives with magical powers in exchange for gifts and favors.  In most versions, the imp forces the girl to promise her first-born child for the final task.  The girl, however, is clever, and arranges a new deal.  If she can guess his name in three days, he will relinquish all claim to her and her blood.  The girl, through stealth and wit, discovers his name, Rumpelstiltskin, and frees herself from his grasp.  While Rumpelstiltskin and straw never appear in Spinning Silver, the beats are familiar enough to echo the original tale.

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Courtroom Hustle: A Review of The Rooster Bar, by John Grisham

The law of the United States of America is a fascinating beast.  It shapes so much of our daily lives behind the scenes.  Labor laws dictate how much workers may be paid and how often they may take a meal break.  Financial laws are meant to ensure proper practices by the banks and large corporations.  Criminal laws inform us what actions are illegal and what actions are perfectly accepted.  However, the law is not always moral or proper.  Laws exist criminalizing things which should be allowed, and actions which should be illegal are legal.  Not too long ago, Canada legalized marijuana nation-wide, repealing laws whose original aid in racist paranoia.  In the Unites States, it is still legal to secretly record conversations in most states.  The legal thriller genre looks at the often-times ridiculousness of the law and uses it for inspiration.

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