A Curse Dark as Gold
By Elizabeth C. Bunce
Published 2008 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Charlotte Miller is not particularly superstitious - she may even scoff at the belief that her family and their mill is cursed. But, after her father's death, misfortunes await her at every turn. Is there more to the curse than just talk? And when Charlotte accepts the help of a strange man named Jack Spinner, is she setting herself up for even more misfortune and darkness?
I remember hearing about this book when it won the Morris Award and I kept it in the back of my mind, wanting to pick it up when I had a chance. I'm a big fan of fairy tales and retellings, so clearly, this book was right up my alley. I finally picked it up recently, no longer able to resist the siren call of it sitting on our library shelves. I have to admit that this book was not quite what I expected. Yes, this is a very interesting and unique retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin." What I really liked about it is how much agency Charlotte, the miller's daughter, is truly given in this version. I also liked that she had a sister, and I loved seeing their relationship changing throughout the course of the novel. I appreciated Charlotte's reluctance to romance, as it increased her vulnerability to the alleged curse. I thought her struggle with conflicting emotions regarding the curse was exceptionally well-wrought. There is no doubt that this book is beautifully written - it feels fully immersed in its time and place and truly feels like a real-life fairy tale. Despite all this, though, I didn't enjoy this as much as I had hoped. It's nearly 400 pages and, at times, I had to really push myself to keep reading. There are definitely some slow moments during the book, especially with all the descriptive and abundant prose. I couldn't help but feel disappointed while reading - I wanted to be completely swept up in the story and fall in love with it and I just didn't. There were parts I liked - obviously - but, as a whole, I was left wanting. I can certainly see this book's strengths; I just didn't connect with it emotionally.