Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book Review: A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce

A Curse Dark as Gold binds Charlotte Miller, after she takes over the running of her father's mill.  As she and her sister Rosie come to terms with their grief over their father's death, they also try to hold the the mill together.  When their mother's uncle shows up with pretenses of "helping" them, things become even more complicated.  The Millers have been cursed since the mill was first built, and Charlotte finds that with ruined cloth, an unexpected debt, and grasping mill owners, she must turn to a most unlikely source for help, Jack Spinner a mysterious man with interesting gifts.  But, will she be able to break the curse before she loses those things that are most precious to her?

A Curse Dark as Gold

Things I Liked: 
This was such an excellent retelling of Rumplestiltskin that I almost decided to like the original tale!  Bunce's beautiful writing blew me away and I loved the interesting and subtle touches of otherness.  The original story was recognizable, but Bunce made it more about the miller's daughter.  Charlotte was such a strong character, but also flawed, notably by trying to be too independent. Overall, a fabulous retelling full of spirit and fantasy and a good, strong, likable heroine.  Here is a taste of the beautiful writing:
I traced my finger over the split floorboards, the rivets driven into patches where the wood had grown too thin.  I knew the path of every uneven board in these floors, the very spiderweb of cracks in the walls; the leather belts and iron gears and moss-covered wheel said home in every sigh and rustle. p 5
I fell back on my heals, as the threads twisted tighter and tighter together, binding us all in a web of violence and revenge. p308
Things I Didn't Like:
Well, I did get a bit angry with how Charlotte tried to push away her husband.  Lots of times, fairy tales seem kind of inevitable in their story line, that things just have to happen and the characters have to act that way, even if it is stupid.  But, that is the nature of the fairy tale.  Even if it makes me grumpy.


Other fairy tale retellings, notably Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier and Beauty by Robin McKinley

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
some violence mentioned, but not described

Overall rating: *****

Do you have a favorite retelling?

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  1. This one is quite beautiful, isn't it? I love East by Edith Pattou, and Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl for retellings.

  2. Oh, yes. I was completely floored by this one. And enchanted. I can't wait for her next book to come out. Such a lovely writer.

    And I completely agree. She remade a horrible old fairy tale into something breathtaking.

  3. I've checked this one out twice and couldnt get into it. Maybe 3rd times the charm?

  4. Melissa, amen to both of those choices - absolutely love them!

    Angie, I'm still having a hard time believing that was her first book! I imagine it can only get better from here!

    Kath, I don't know - three times? I don't think I'd try that hard on a book I couldn't get into, but for this one, maybe. :)

  5. Melissa@1lbr:

    I haven't got to this one yet, but fairytale retellings are very popular in our house, for example Helen Lowe's Thornspell last year and Robin McKinely's Beauty lang syne, so will have to put it on the "must read" list. It sounds very good.

    Kath: You had trouble with Thornspell, as well, if I recall? Is it fairytale retellings you don't care for, maybe, or a particular style?

  6. Andie, I'm a big fan too (obviously).


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