Buy A Curse Dark As Gold
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Reviewer: Melissa on August 12, 2010
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Before beginning to read A Curse Dark As Gold, I hadn’t thought about a fairy tale that I’d absolutely loved as a child called Rumpelstiltskin. I’d even go so far as to say that it was my favorite fairy tale, which fascinated me long before I was exposed to Disney versions of many of these stories. If you read and loved the original tale, then this re-imagining of the Gothic curse set against the miller’s daughter is sure to delight you.
Set in an 18th century town at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, Elizabeth C. Bunce goes beyond just re-writing the fairy tale ACurseDarkAsGold based on to criticize the status quo of the time. Despite consistent adversity and prejudice, the 17-year-old main character, Charlotte Miller, takes on the running of the family mill after her father dies when there are no other male heirs in the Miller family at a time when women were only expected to get married and have children. Things get worse when Randall Woodstone arrives bringing tidings of a heavy debt incurred by the now deceased father. While Charlotte and her sister Rosie have no idea what their father did with such a large sum of money, the weight of it puts them in the clutches of Jack Spinner, and whether it’s for good or ill remains to be seen.
A few carefully-placed anachronisms in the novel add to the feminist bent of the narrative and makes Jack Spinner a rich name for Bunce to use. For example, during the narrative setting, men were always deemed a source of skilled labor, but the book presents women in these roles when in actuality, it wasn’t until they were completely mechanized that this job became “women’s work.” Moreover, the “jack spinner” didn’t come into being until 1820 as Bunce mentions in the “Author’s Note,” which is at least 100 years after this story’s setting. However, without using this anachronism, the images and naming of Jack Spinner wouldn’t have been so important. When combined together, these points work toward making the literary richness of the novel shine like gold and updating the story for an audience that is used to the girl power phenomenon.
This debut novel is written with the touch of a seasoned pro, so I’m not at all surprised that it won the William C. Morris Debut Award and was named An ALA Best Book For Young Adults, A BCCB Blue Ribbon Book, and A Smithsonian Notable Book. Now if this critical acclaim doesn’t tempt you, then perhaps my opinion won’t move you either, but just in case, let’s test it out. What can you expect? How about a novel that is shot through with elements of Gothic narrative, romance and magic and which will speak to the child in you, no matter what your current age. I, for one, fell in love with the characters and was drawn into the plot so much that I can’t wait until Bunce’s second novel, Star Crossed, hits the bookshelves in October, 2010.
If you’re looking for a brilliant, rich narrative with a historical fantasy plot, then check out A Curse Dark As Gold. While all that glitters is not gold, this novel certainly is the real thing.
Buy A Curse Dark As Gold today!