A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

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?

In her brilliant debut, Elizabeth Bunce weaves a spellbinding fairy tale, spun with mystery and shot through with romance.

A Curse Dark as Gold completely exceeded my expectations, something that is incredibly rare in a fairytale retelling.  Elizabeth Bunce gave the heroine of the story, called Charlotte in this version (usually she has no name) a lot more depth than the traditional Rumpelstiltskin legend does.  And Rumpelstiltskin himself, although he’s never called that, is surprisingly sympathetic.  He is a villain in the traditional sense of the word, but in this version there are no set roles; it is very ambiguous, especially at the end.

Elizabeth Bunce also added enough plot twists to give the plot depth while keeping readers in suspense.  Throughout the story, you really get the feeling that this is Rumpelstiltskin but it’s different enough that you are in doubt about the traditional happy ending during the climax.  What impressed me the most about A Curse Dark as Gold was how Elizabeth Bunce chose to set it in a fantasy world similar to Britain as the Industrial Revolution was kicking off.  Of course, that would explain why the mill was so important and was threatened with closure because of the new, more efficient machines in the city.

I thought Charlotte fell in love with Randall a little too quickly, but that’s probably because I’m not a romantic.  Other than that, I really had no complaints about the characters, which is incredibly rare in a fairytale retelling.  If you had to read just one fairytale retelling, I would recommend this one.  Try it; you won’t regret it.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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    • Carrie Slager

      Thank you! It was the title that first caught my attention when I was browsing Amazon a while ago, but I only picked it up from the public library on Friday. Thank goodness they’re finally expanding their YA section!

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