Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Curse Dark as Gold (Book Review)

Author: Elizabeth C. Bunce
Year: 2008
Genre: Fairy Tale

Reading Level: Young Adult

Literary Awards:
Cybils Award (2008), William C. Morris YA Debut Award (2009), Smithsonian Notable Book, ALA Best Books for Young Adults. for Young Adults (2009), Oprah's Book Club Kids' Reading List Teen Selection (2009) Kansas Notable Book Medal (2009), 150 Best Books/150 Years - Kansas Sesquicentennial List (2011), Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award Finalist (2011), Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader's Choice Award Finalist (2011), Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon Book (2009), Iowa High School Battle of the Books Selection (2010), Arkansas Teen Book Award (2009), Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books List (2009), Amelia Bloomer Book List (2009) 

Plot Summary: When Charlotte Miller inherits her family's mill, everyone expects her to quickly fail at running it.  It doesn't help that the mill is haunted by perpetual bad luck--or is it something more sinister?  Charlotte, determined to save her mill at all costs, has to delve into the mill's shadowy past if it's to have a future.

(That was a cheesy line.)
Red Flags: Witchcrafty folklore magic, ghosts, general supernaturalness

My Rating: B+
I wanted to love this book--it is a fairy tale retelling after all!  And, well, I didn't love it.  But I did like it (Sarah!).  I like the story and the characters were good (Rosie was my favorite), though there were a few too many townsfolk for me to keep track of.  The book suffered a bit from my taking a really long time to read it* and I got a little frustrated at how long it took for the fairy tale element to come in.  What I liked best about the story were the supernatural/ghostly/fairy tale elements, but the author focused more the historical aspects.  I think, in theory, that is a good tactic for a fairy tale rewrite, but this one was a little heavy on the mill stuff and history.  But at the same time, I can see that being a real selling point for other readers.

Overall, it was an interesting take on the Rumpelstiltskin story, but I wish that element had come into play sooner.  Also I wish there had been a diagram of a mill to refer to because I couldn't picture a bloomin' thing. 

*I had two books come in on hold that I had to read before they were due.

Memorable lines:


"Do other mothers behold their newborn sons as I did?  Do they all find themselves stopped, breathless, in what they were doing to merely stare, in wonder, at the tiny life before them?  Do they hold fast to their hungry babes and think fierce thoughts about their futures?  Do they draw out a wide circle and say, 'Nothing will intrude upon this sacred space?'  I do not know; I think they must--but I must also admit I felt as thought I had brought forth the only child in the universe, that I had performed the greatest  miracle in the history of creation, and that nothing since time began was blessed with quite the brilliance and perfection of my son William."


  1. So I officially can't predict :) It's ok cause I kind of already knew that. And you liked Mara (right?) which was the most important one to like ;)

    1. Well, I don't have good luck at predicting for you either! And I still like getting recommendations! And I DID like it! :) And yes, I did like Mara!