Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Charlotte Miller's father has died, leaving her and her sister, Rose, the sole heirs of their family business, the Stirwaters Woolen Mill.  Charlotte keeps herself busy taking care of her sister and the Mill - for the whole town relies on the Mill.  She manages to keep things in order - for a while.  But when something terrible happens, Charlotte must either sell the mill or...sell the mill.  But that's when the stranger shows up.  Jack Spinner, he calls himself, and he has an incredible talent, one that will put Charlotte, Rose, and the rest of Stirwaters back into business.  Jack Spinner spins gold from straw in one night, takes an item precious to Charlotte, and then disappears.  But as time progresses, Charlotte's life changes - and she falls in love.  And nwe misfortunes fall on the Mill.  Jack Spinner keeps coming back to help, but its only a matter of time before he takes something truly important to Charlotte.  Something irreplacable.  And Charlotte may be the only person with guts enough to figure out why.

My thoughts -
For the majority of the book, all I could think was "Five star!  Five star!  Five star!"  It was seriously such an epicly strange and original tale...I was so hooked.  I loved everything about the story, the characters, their hurts and struggles and joys, the conflicts that arose, the beauty of the world Elizabeth Bunce had created.

You may be thinking, "Did it turn bad in the end?  Boring?  Stupid?"  I'm happy to report, "No, it didn't."  I did love every moment of the book.  However, I was a little disappointed (and more creeped out than I was expecting) with the end.  Because the whole book has a leisurely pace, like hot summertime, the end seemed rushed.  There are a couple of different ways that it could have been slowed down to match pace with the rest of the book.

This is my only issue.  I loved everything else.  And, I must say, even the last five or so chapters, with their quick tying up of loose ends, was enjoyable.  I just wish she would have kept the pace.

A note on the writing:  WHOOHOO!!!  Elizabeth C. Bunce - you had me under a spell with your lyrical style and beautiful word choices.  The way the author conjures pictures to the readers mind should be a world-wide example to all writers.  Within the first 15 pages I knew everything I needed to know about all of the introduced characters, their pasts, the world they lived in, and the direction the story was going.  The first paragraph is one of my favorite paragraphs...ever.  It is one incredible example of what kind of information should be in a paragraph, plus how you can grip your readers from sentence #1.

Character notes -
The characters were so amazing, down to those who I absolutely hated.  Charlotte was immediately defined, as was Rose, and Randall (who has been added to my "favorite male leads" list), Uncle Wheeler, Jack Spinner, all the townspeople, all the contracters.  This is a story of friendship, caring for one another, and love.  But it is also a story about cheating thieves, backstabbers, and selfish men.  Those two groups put together makes for a ridiculously good story with characters I will never forget.

I think what really stood out to me about this book was the tension between characters.  It was riveting.  Completely engrossing.  When Charlotte and Randall began fighting, especially, I was on my seat with anticipation, wondering how it would turn out.  A lot of the time I was like, "Ugh, Charlotte, another mistake?"  But isn't that how we learn?  We make mistakes.  Charlotte makes mistakes, Randall makes mistakes.  They all had their faults to deal with, things to apologize for, and they all learned something valuable in the end.  The healing of broken relationships and hearts is really a wonderful way to end a story.  These things, these invaluable, human things, made me love the characters even more.

Story notes -
Like I said above, the story was absolutely amazing until the end.  Then it was just good.  I didn't love the quickness of it, because the book set me in a nostalgic mood, and then quickly jerked me awake when it totally could have kept going slowly.  I'm not complaining though - despite the fastness of the climax, I loved the turnout.  The layers tacked on to this story, one at a time, in perfect order, make it hard not to fall in love with.

The story holds superstition, possible ghosts, a creepy guy who spins straw into gold (and then takes what you love most: a gold watch your father gave you, a pair of pearl earrings from your grandmother...your child), lots of accidents (were they really accidents?), and a full cast of characters that will keep you rooting for them until the end.

One word/phrase to sum it up (final thoughts) -
Strange and deliciously beautiful.  'Nuff said.

Do you want to read it yet?  I think you should.  Will I read it a second time?  Yes, most likely.  And I'll probably end up buying it, just because 90% of it's one of the loveliest reads I have ever laid my hands on.  Recommended to everyone who likes a great, strange, dark, and slightly creepy fairy tale retelling that holds a whole lot of goodness.

For the parents -
There's absolutely nothing to complain about.  Charlotte and Randall are married, and they share a bed, but no details are written.  She mentions that while they are on their honeymoon, they missed breakfast their first morning together.  I can't remember the exact terms she used but it was along those lines...and you know anyway what's going on because they just got married.  There are also lots of spooky happenings in this story, especially toward the end.  I'd recommend to ages 14 and up.

Read my other reviews!


  1. Sound like an interesting retelling of Rumplestiltskin and I love a good retelling. Definitely would like to read this one. Lovely review.

  2. Wow! I'm so happy to hear this lived up to our expectations! Your review is perfect: You've given me a good grasp on what to expect and you mentioned a number of things that make me really curious to read the book and find out what you're talking about. Nicely done!

  3. Well you have made me want to read this! Sounds good. I am very curious about how it ended since you say you were so surprised and felt it was a creepier ending than you expected. Hmm.. interesting. Thanks for the review and for giving me another summer read to look into.

  4. Your review makes me want to re-read this! I was lucky enough to read it during Fairy Tale Fortnight in April! I really want to read Bunce's STARCROSSED as well.

    Your review highlights so many great things about the book and really brings it to life. :)

  5. It looks like I have made yet another mistake by passing a book up. I have picked this one up at the library several times but never brought it home with me. I think I will have to bring it home next time. I love strange. Strange is always good. Thanks for the review!