Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Curse Dark as Gold - Elizabeth C. Bunce

Summary:  The gold thread shimmers in the fading light.  It promises Charlotte Miller a way out of debt, a chance to save her family's beloved woolen mill.  It promises a future for her sister, livelihood for her townsfolk, security against her sinuous and grasping uncle.  It might even promise what she didn't know she needed: lasting hope and true love.

But at what cost?  To get the thread, Charlotte must strike a bargain with its maker, the mysterious Jack Spinner.  But the gleam of gold conjures a shadowy past--secrets and bonds ensnaring generations of Millers.  And Charlotte's mill, her family, her friends, her love...What do those matter to a powerful stranger who can spin straw into gold?  (Summary from book cover - Image from www.pnla.org)

My Review:  A Curse Dark as Gold won the William C. Norris debut award for young adult literature in 2009 and is a dark, languid retelling of the classic fairytale Rumpelstiltskin, set in England in the late 18th century. This novel has a Austen-esque atmosphere with a supernatural flair, and is considered historical fiction because of its detailed depiction of the woolen industry in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, and rendering of women’s rights in regard to property and business.

Elizabeth C. Bunce maintains the same disturbing tone in her retelling as in the original fairytale, as traditional fairytale romance takes a back seat to a story of loyalty, greed, heritage, and revenge. After her father’s unexpected passing, Charlotte Miller takes over the family’s failing textile mill. She hopes to save the business, but the going is rough as the mill is plagued with all manner of mishaps. In a fit of desperation, Charlotte turns to a mysterious stranger to fix her financial woes and ends up in far greater danger. Now up to her eyeballs in an even more sinister debt, Charlotte must come to terms with her family’s shameful history, as she struggles to break an ancient curse that threatens to destroy those she loves.

While the beginning of the book moved rather slowly, it picked up as the story moved along and ended the way I like retellings to end -- with the feeling that perhaps I’ve just received the inside scoop on the story behind the fairytale. A Curse Dark as Gold wasn’t the kind of book I would shout from the rooftops about, but I enjoyed the retelling more than the original and will keep it in my library until my girls are old enough to read it for themselves.

My Rating: 3.75 Stars
For the sensitive reader: I can’t remember anything -- which usually means if there was any swearing or violence, it wasn’t excessive.

Sum it up: An eerie retelling that breathes life into an old classic.

1 comment:

Tribute Books Mama said...

great review! thanks for sharing.

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