(Cover picture courtesy of NetGalley.)
No princes need apply.
Juliana Ravel will do anything to save her innocent brother from the executioner, but what the supposedly charming prince demands is impossible. Spinning straw into gold? He might as well ask her to fly. Her only hope is a family heirloom – a gold medallion rumored to be the magic prison of one of the fabled golden fae.
Trapped inside the medallion for hundreds of years, Rue isn’t fool enough to trust Juliana, but he can’t help but be tempted by the feisty beauty. Even though she is the spitting image of the witch who betrayed and imprisoned him, Rue agrees to help her. For a price.
Entranced by the exotic, golden-skinned man, Juliana agrees to his terms, believing her worries are at an end. But when the tyrannical prince finds her surrounded by riches, he isn’t about to let her walk away – instead holding her prisoner within the corrupt court. Juliana’s only freedom is her nights with Rue, where their negotiations turn to seduction, and together they construct a desperate plot to escape a life where they must keep spinning gold… or die.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
I’m generally suspicious of fairytale retellings, especially Rumpelstiltskin ones, but the blurb for Spinning Gold was irresistible. It sounded like a wonderfully unique retelling that was well-written with great world-building. For once my impressions from the blurb were right! Spinning Gold is a great Rumpelstiltskin retelling and it even explains how we got our ugly little man idea from the ‘real story’.
Unlike so many female main characters in fairytale retellings, Juliana is an amazingly strong narrator that carries the whole book on her shoulders. She’s not passive when her brother is accused of being a traitor and instead bargains with what is essentially her own life with the evil prince to save him. When she promises that she can spin straw into gold, she knows she may be only buying herself and her brother a trip to the executioner, but that night in her cell she discovers something amazing: her family amulet. When she cries on it, Rue springs forth and almost kills her, believing her to be her great-grandmother, the woman who trapped him inside it in the first place. Not exactly a great start to a relationship but they eventually work things out and Rue spins gold for Juliana, which brings her more trouble than she bargained for as now the evil prince wants to marry her.
Still, despite the threat to her life from being at court, she is drawn to Rue in her dreams and finds herself slowly falling in love with the mysterious man. At the same time, she tries to continue what her brother started with the rebellion to overthrow the prince. But being the prince’s fiance doesn’t make that easy in the slightest. So you can see why Juliana is one of my favourite narrators: she doesn’t just sit by. Rue is also one of my favourite love interests because he’s tortured and untrusting of Juliana but it’s actually for a good reason. As he slowly warms up to her, the romance between them explodes but remains believable.
The world-building in this is fantastic! I don’t want to spoil too much by saying that Rue’s bargain with Juliana is nothing like the Rumpelstiltskin story we know, but does actually resemble it in some aspects. So where did the Rumpelstiltskin legend we know today come about? Well, let’s just say that the un-charming prince and his adviser Torlemain were excellent spin doctors and leave it at that. As for how Rue is able to spin straw into gold, that’s also part of Vivi Andrews’ amazing world-building in her fantasy world.
The plot isn’t frantically paced, but rather slowly speeds up as the book goes along. For a short book that’s awesome and none of the character development or world-building is sacrificed in the process. At the same time, you won’t be able to put Spinning Gold down. The romance between Rue and Juliana is sizzling and there are so many plot twists your head will be left spinning by the end. Yet the plot twists still make sense and I love how Vivi Andrews hinted at them a little but not enough to spoil the fun at the end.
So to recap: Spinning Gold is a great fairytale retelling with believable characters, awesome world-building and a fast-paced plot that will keep you reading into the early morning hours.
I give this book 5/5 stars.