Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Book:  A Curse Dark as Gold
Publisher:  Arthur A. Levine
Year:  2008
Genre:  YA  Fairy tale retelling
My grade:  B+
Upon the death of her father, seventeen-year-old Charlotte struggles to keep the family's woolen mill running in the face of an overwhelming mortgage and what the local villagers believe is a curse, but when a man capable of spinning straw into gold appears on the scene she must decide if his help is worth the price. (description from

This book is a reworking of the Rumplestiltskin tale of Grimm fame.  It is set at the birth of the Industrial Revolution.  Although it never actually states the location, one assumes, based on dialect, that it probably takes place in England or Scotland.  It is the story of 2 girls, recently orphaned, who have inherited a textile mill from their father.  The mill is rumored to be cursed and the oldest daughter, protagonist Charlotte Miller, will stop at nothing to save the mill from ruin.  It has elements of historical fiction woven together with many supernatural fairy tale elements.  There is a dash of romance, some spookiness and a cast of secondary characters who are all wonderful on their own.

This book was awarded the Morris for debut authors by the ALA, probably because of the flawless way in which the author weaves together all the elements.  At the end of the book, it was a completely believable tale that provided a little something for everyone:  history, fantasy, horror, romance.  The author created a rich world and filled it with even richer characters.

For me, however, there was a rather large drawback, however.  It would have been easy to give up on this book because the story is very slow to start.  The author almost provides too much background information and it is easy to want to simply put the book down because of the slow pacing.  Readers who stick it out will be rewarded with a fantastic tale of love, loyalty, betrayal, secrets and the supernatural.  In the end, I loved the book, but at first, I wasn’t sure that I would make it to the end.

I loved the characters in this book.  Charlotte is a wonderful, strong female lead.  Uncle Wheeler is funny and Rosie has a lot of spirit.  The mill workers were wonderful and you can’t help but love them all for their loyalty to Charlotte and the mill.  And Randall Woodstone!  Swoon!  He may rival Mr. Darcy……ok, probably not, but he is fabulous!

I actually like the twist on the tale with the identification of Rumplestiltskin and the curse.  I think that it is a much more satisfying story and ending than the original Grimm Brothers version.  So if you decide to give this one a try, stick with it for 4 or 5 chapters before deciding to put it down.  In the end, you won’t be sorry!

My grade is a B+ because the story ended up being fabulous, but it lost points for the slow start.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reviewing this, I have been trying to decide if I should read it. Now I'm going to go find it.