A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce

curseThis lovely fairy tale retelling was the first ever recipient of YALSA’s William C. Morris Award (for a first time young adult author.)  I happen to really enjoy fairy tale retellings, but I think this stands on its own as just a wonderful novel and, as you might expect from an award winner, it is absolutely beautifully written. When I finished it I wished it had been my book club book because there are so many things to talk about in this novel:  comparison to the original Rumpelstiltskin story, the time period-on the verge of the Industrial Revolution, the mill as an actual character itself (it practically breathes and is the life force of the village),  how long must a family pay for the sins of their forefathers, the romance between the miller’s daughter and the banker, and any of the fascinating things in the author’s afterward (including the fact that in this story the miller’s daughter has a name: Charlotte).  This was such a charming story, but it definitely had some very dark themes in it.  Something that always troubled me about Rumpelstiltskin was what a nasty little character he was.  And in this story too you find yourself wondering why he would be so mean.  Happily the author wondered that too and spins (ha ha) a story about that aspect as well.   One thing that irritated me was that Charlotte tried to handle everything herself and kept Randall in the dark about so many many things.  I know that was a main part of the story and of their relationship, but it drives me nuts in books and on tv shows when you, as an observer, find yourself saying “just tell them!” because you know it would clear everything up.   I can’t wait to see what else Bunce writes.  In the meantime I would recommend this to any fan of Shannon Hale.

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