Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Dunce

A Curse Dark as Gold
by Elizabeth C. Dunce
YA, Fairy Tale
396 pages
published: 2009
3 of 5 stars


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.  - from Goodreads


I liked this book. It was a creative retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with a curse and a mystery, a history and the additional characters of the mill and the village. I enjoyed the perspective of the "Miller's Daughter" rather than Rumpelstiltskin. I believed in the characters. I reveled in hating one of them and loving others. I loved learning about the technical aspects of making and selling cloth. The writing was good, with emotional situations making me feel all the appropriate emotions.

Yet overall, this was no love affair for me for two main reasons - both of which are matters of personal taste/preference and do not prevent me from recommending this or understanding why others love it. First, I must be used to characters starting off at rock bottom, or quickly hitting rock bottom, and spending the rest of the time climbing out. It was difficult to read about a character whose situation got better, than worse, than really great, than worse-er... At one point when things were happy, I put the book down and didn't read for a while. I didn't want to ride the roller coaster down again! I am glad that I did finish. The ride was rough but the ending rewarding.

The second reason this wasn't my favorite story had to do with Charlotte. I admired her tenacity and hard work and independence and practicality. But she eventually carried it to the ridiculous and I stopped admiring her. She began doing things and making decisions that I hated. I have been thinking about this. More often than not characters do things I wouldn't do, think things I wouldn't think, and make decisions I wouldn't make, but that doesn't stop me from liking them or their story. My problem with Charlotte must have to do with the area of her disagreeable decisions. She poked a nerve of mine. At one point she was faced with a decision and she hesitated - honestly hesitated - and from that point on she lost me. My interest in finishing the story became more about solving the mystery than out of concern for her, and the loss of that personal dimension in a story is detrimental to me.

Overall? It is a worthwhile book that I would recommend to fairy tale lovers. It is not a personal favorite of mine.

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