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A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

A Curse Dark as Gold (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Elizabeth C. Bunce

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8946114,873 (3.85)99
Title:A Curse Dark as Gold
Authors:Elizabeth C. Bunce
Info:Arthur A. Levine Books (2008), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce (2008)


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Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
What an original, ambitious retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Many of the plot elements here hardly resemble the Grimms' version. There is, of course, a straw-to-gold-spinning entity who aspires to take the protagonist's infant son. However, Charlotte Miller does not marry a king, and freeing herself of Mr. Spinner's curse is more involved than guessing his name, as is the history of the curse itself. With such a strong plot and backstory, this book had "above average" within its grasp. Unfortunately, the execution doesn't live up to the concept.

The characters use mostly archaic vocabulary (some modern phrases sneak in, and most of the syntax is modern, as well), but their attitudes don't reflect the era of their speech. In 18th-century England or America, Charlotte's actions would receive far more censure than is depicted here. Of course, I prefer a strong heroine to a fainting one, but without better explanation, Charlotte throws off convention too drastically. Insisting to run a business alone is one thing, but she also refuses to allow her husband to pay the mortgage because it's "her" debt and even once jokingly calls her new husband "Mr. Miller" (her maiden name) when he calls her "Mrs. Woodstone."

Ultimately, the protagonist never garnered my sympathies. Perhaps she would have, if I'd understood her motivations better. Yes, she fears the curse, and this fear drives her to shut out everyone around her so as not to endanger them. But fear alone didn't satisfy me as sufficient motivation for some of her actions. I did like secondary characters Rosie and Harte, and even Charlotte's husband Randall, who does the best he can under the circumstances. Overall, the book left me wishing for more character complexity.

The setting left me downright confused. The mill is described with appropriate detail, but the village around it seems little more than a vacuum. Does this story take place in England? America? Much of the dialogue could even be Irish. True, fairy tales take place "in a faraway land," but this one is unique because it doesn't. The author's note at the end confirms that she researched the mill industry of the 1700's. With these details woven so deeply into the story, I wanted to be able to picture a society, a time (more specific than a century) and a place. No hint is given of the period's politics, of real-life contemporaries of the characters. The religion (corn dollies, magic herbs, various charms and spells) feels more medieval than Puritan, despite the mention of a hanging for witchcraft.

It seems that Ms. Bunce wanted to create a "historical fairy tale." While the idea is fresh and intriguing, the historical setting still needs some work. But the readable writing style and the originality of this tale gives reason to check out her next one. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
"A Curse as Dark as Gold" is good-a worthwhile read, for sure-but it's not mindblowingly spectacular. It deviated from the original story in a way that made it clear that it was still a Rumpelstiltskin story, but still made enough changes to feel fresh. ( )
  whatsmacksaid | Sep 21, 2018 |
I have had this to read for awhile. I always love fairy tale retellings and this was a very well done retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. The story moves a bit slow at points, but it is beautifully written and full of excellent imagery. I ended up enjoying it. The story pulls you forward with a tense foreboding as things end up poised on the brink of disaster.

This story follows two sisters who end up taking over a cloth mill after their father’s death. The mill seems to be cursed, as one tragedy after another befalls it. The older sister Charlotte finds herself struggling to keep the mill open so that the town built around it can continue to thrive. Just as she is at her wit’s end, a strange man appears and offers what seems to be too easy of a way out of her problems.

I loved learning about cloth milling and enjoyed the small town that Charlotte lives in. This is one of those stories where the heroine has the best intentions but ends up getting herself in worse and worse situations as she struggles to do right for those around her.

I enjoyed how this story was blended in with the classic tale of Rumpelstiltskin. It is well done and subtle.

The writing style is beautiful and flows wonderfully. There is a lot of description in here and the scenes really come alive. At times this makes the story move slowly. However this slower pace fits well with the pace of small town life and with the gradually build to disaster that overhangs this story.

Overall this is a very well done retelling of Rumpelstiltskin and I would recommend to those who enjoy fairy tale retellings. Although the story is a bit slow at times, it is beautifully written. I also enjoyed learning some about how cloth milling used to be done. ( )
  krau0098 | Sep 24, 2017 |
Well, it is dark, more so than I expected. And the heroine is an authentic teenager (illogical, idealistic, impulsive, innocent, and arrogant) so I (mother of a teen) found most of her behaviors and choices aggravating. The expansion of the idea of the fairy story works well, is plausible. The story & characters & setting are interesting. But somehow I, personally, just didn't feel fully engaged & charmed, and cannot bring myself to give it 4 stars. So, 3.5. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
In this book, the main character, Charlotte is faced with a problem and we follow her through the events leading her to meeting Jack Spinner. This man spin straw into gold and is very powerful and tricky. I would use this book with Junior high level students and have them make predictions throughout the book. I could also have them write their own alternate ending of how they wished the book would have ended, or how they think it could have ended differently. ( )
  jennabushong | Mar 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
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When my father died, I thought the world would come to an end.
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Book description
The gold thread shimmers in the fading light.
It promises Charlotte Miller a way out of debt, a chance to save her family's beloved woolen mill. It promises a future for her sister, livelihood for her townsfolk, security against her sinuous and grasping uncle. It might even promise what she didn't know she needed: lasting hope and true love.

But at what cost?

To get the thread, Charlotte must strike a bargain with its maker, the mysterious Jack Spinner. But the gleam of gold conjures a shadowy past -- secrets and bonds ensnaring generations of Millers. And Charlotte's mill, her family, her friends, her love . . . What do those matter to a powerful stranger who can spin straw into gold?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439895766, Hardcover)

This ravishing winner of the ALA's William C. Morris YA Debut Award is a fairy tale, spun with a mystery, woven with a family story, and shot through with romance.

Charlotte Miller has always scoffed at talk of a curse on her family's woolen mill, which holds her beloved small town together. But after her father's death, the bad luck piles up: departing workers, impossible debts, an overbearing uncle. Then a stranger named Jack Spinner offers a tempting proposition: He can turn straw into gold thread, for the small price of her mother's ring. As Charlotte is drawn deeper into her bargains with Spinner-and a romance with the local banker-she must unravel the truth of the curse on the mill and save the community she's always called home.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:43 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Upon the death of her father, seventeen-year-old Charlotte struggles to keep the family's woolen mill running in the face of an overwhelming mortgage and what the local villagers believe is a curse, but when a man capable of spinning straw into gold appears on the scene she must decide if his help is worth the price.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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