LOTS of people have read and loved Elizabeth Bunce’s first novel, A Curse Dark as Gold. So I feel a bit like this is a “Me too! Me too!” type of review. No matter. I’ve read it. I liked it. I’m saying my piece. (I’ll keep it short).
Bunce offers a glorious remake of one of the creepiest fairy tales around: Rumplestiltskin. She sets the story in the period just before the Industrial Revolution, in a struggling mill called Stirwaters, which has been under the ownership of Miller & Sons for many years. However, there are no sons in the Miller family, just two daughters, Charlotte and Rosie, who’ve been left to sink or swim in the family business after their father’s death. Charlotte is the elder sister, and she feels the burden of this new responsibility keenly. To add to matters, there are whisperings that the mill is cursed and events seem to bear this suspicion out, as things start to go wrong at every turn. It isn’t long before the practical Charlotte finds herself caught up with her sister in mysterious, dark deeds and risky bargains.
I could say so many positive things about this book. Every character in the story changes and grows, and so every character is wonderfully interesting and real. The setting is evocative, and life in the mill and in the town is beautifully described. And if you’re in the mood for a few twists, you’re in luck, since Bunce is the twist-master. The best part of it all is that she uses the original fairy tale as a starting place only, building around the basic plot we all know to create a story that reads as a completely natural extension of the original. That can’t be easy.
This one belongs on the shelf with Shannon Hale’s fairy tale retellings. I for one hope that Elizabeth Bunce is planning to give us another historical-fantasy like this one. Highly recommended.
Read lots more gushing here:
And check out this creepifying book trailer:
(Can you believe that freaky carriage? Love it).