In Spinning Silk, we follow a girl named Furi as she slowly learns who she is and the strength she possesses. She is sold as a servant and treated very poorly. While in her servitude, she meets a young man named Shin. He seems to have an almost magical ability with gardening. He is a low-ranking servant, yet his skin is clear. He is a mystery. And in Shin, we unravel just who he is.
In a way, this is Spinning Silk from Shin’s point of view. Many scenes and dialogues are similar or even the same in both books. In the acknowledgements, we are told both books were originally meant to be combined. I understand why they were split, though. The stories are very similar, but the tones are pretty different. SS has more of a calm style with a focus on nature. It is more prose-centered. The style of Shin, in my eyes, is more anticipatory with a focus on battle and the backstory of the eponymous MC. This one is more dialogue and action-centered. That is, Shin is driven by outside action, unlike Furi who is driven more by inward thought.
Shin himself must navigate the whims of his mother and his Uncle, as well as his own. If the Whitegrain family gains power, it means disaster for Shin’s people. Throughout the book, we learn of Shin’s military past and combat training — treated with contempt among his superiors. To them, he is lesser than an inanimate object inside one of the buildings.
The book follows Shin as he trains, meets Furi, and attempts to execute a bloodless war (i.e., a war with very little death, according to him) to stop the Whitegrains from coming into power. The writing is much more straightforward than in Spinning Silk and has more of an emphasis on the here-and-now, as well as on Shin’s thoughts and worries. As previously mentioned, some of the dialogue between Furi and Shin is the exact same in both books. Personally, I wish those scenes had been trimmed down with perhaps a mention that the two of them spoke. That way, we could focus more on the outcome of the conversations from Shin’s point of view. Or perhaps choosing only one dialogue-scene to be the same for a greater impact. As it was, however, those sections felt more like page-fillers unfortunately. I will say, though, that it was interesting to see how the different tones of the surrounding stories gave different tones to the same dialogues.
Shin is a book worth reading. It maintains both action and well-written prose. However, I personally felt that some of the repeated dialogues between it and its sister book were a bit unnecessary. I would suggest reading Spinning Silk (which I personally liked just a bit better) first, but because the two novels take place in the same time-frame, you could read the books in either order. In the end, this was a short book that I’m happy to have read.
[Disclaimer: I bought a digital copy of the book from Amazon myself, which I used to review the book. However, we also received an e-copy from the author herself. Thank you.]