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A Curse Dark as Gold Hardcover – March 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—Too stubborn to let go of the troubled mill that has supported her community for generations, Charlotte Miller takes over after her father's death, fighting impending disaster with bargains with a mysterious Jack Spinner that eventually threaten her infant son. Set in a rural valley in the late 1700s, this reworking of the "Rumplestiltskin" story includes ghosts, witchcraft, elements of Georgian society, and much earlier folk magic in the guise of a novel of manners. The leisurely paced narrative gathers steam as it becomes clear that the family and the mill have not simply had a long run of bad luck, but are seriously cursed. Readers need not be familiar with the folktale to see where Charlotte's efforts to save her mill are headed. Though their roles in the narrative are clear, secondary characters are distinctive: foppish Uncle Wheeler is more than a stereotyped villain, and Charlotte's eventual husband is an admirable romantic lead with unsuspected talents. A rich opening to Jane Austen's world for teens.—Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD
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From Booklist

After her father’s death, Charlotte and her younger sister, Rosie, take over the family business, a mill shadowed by a curse that goes back generations. Charlotte gives little credence to superstition, but when they can’t pay the mortgage on the mill, Rosie conjures up Jack Spinner, an odd little man who promises them that he will spin a roomful of straw into gold—for a price. Despite an uncle who apparently wants to help the girls and a suitor who will do anything he can for Charlotte, her secret agreement with Spinner creates a vortex that threatens to destroy everything she holds dear. Set in England during the early days of the Industrial Revolution, the novel combines elements of fantasy and historical fiction with a love story between two strong-minded individuals. An appended author’s note comments on the setting and the Rumpelstiltskin motif. With an appealing title and eye-catching jacket art, this first novel will surely find its audience. Grades 7-10. --Carolyn Phelan

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books; First Edition edition (March 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439895766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439895767
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #738,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth C. Bunce is the author of A Curse Dark as Gold, which won the William C. Morris Award for a young adult debut novel and was named a Smithsonian Notable Book; and the Thief Errant series: StarCrossed, A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best book for 2010, and Liar's Moon, one of Kirkus Blog's Favorite YA Novels of 2011. StarCrossed and A Curse Dark as Gold have appeared on Oprah's Kid's Reading List. All three books have been named to the ALA's Best Fiction for Young Adults list, and she is a three-time Kansas Notable Book winner. An accomplished needlewoman and historical costumer, Elizabeth lives in the Midwest with her husband, her dogs, and a boggart who steals books.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Tamora Pierce on February 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a dark, gorgeous re-telling of "Rumpelstiltskin," but it is also the tale re-shaped for a more modern setting: England at the start of the Industrial Revolution. The miller is a woman, and her worries are modern worries, such as debt and bankruptcy. Her mill keeps most of the village around it employed, and she wants to give her sister a good start in life. Worse, the mill, and her family, seem to be cursed. The characters, from the miller's family to the townspeople, are all interesting. I really liked and admired the hard-working miller and the bank representative who tries to help her. And this new Rumpelstiltskin is believable and scary. As I approached the end of the book, I was praying that everything would turn out well, and I wasn't sure if the writer could pull it off! If you like Libba Bray and Melissa Marr, I think you will love this book!
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on February 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Since her father's death, the fate of the Miller family woolen mill and that of the Shearing village rests on Charlotte's shoulders. An unexpected and seemingly insurmountable debt leads to a difficult choice for the normally practical and levelheaded miller's daughter.

Must she take the offer of the strange little man who can weave straw into gold, or can she make her own way through the maze of ill luck and deceit that seems her family legacy?

Elizabeth C. Bunce's A CURSE DARK AS GOLD is worth its own weight in gold and then some. A folkloric re-telling beyond Rumpelstiltskin proportions, this tale weaves the best storytelling techniques into a fine tapestry of intrigue, drama, and romance.

The tight writing never wavers. Gorgeous, consistent language abounds, like, "I sank to my knees in a sea of crumpled flannel and pressed my hands into the sharp shale of the yard, as if bites from the stones could remind me of who I was."

And just who is Charlotte Miller? Certainly one of the most fascinating characters I've come across of late. If not self-confident at the beginning of our story, she is at least confident in what she knows: the mill cannot go under and the families of Shearing cannot be allowed to starve or scatter to the winds. As she is the only one around to prevent these happenings, Charlotte will do what she must to prevent them. And so she does.

As time goes on, and with Pinchfields Mill of Harrowgate nipping at her heels, Charlotte's choices become ever more difficult and the stakes are raised as she struggles through crisis after crisis. Charlotte's resolve to dismiss the very idea of the Miller Curse crumbles into a pile of wasted wishes as the harsh reality of the unreal comes to be.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Karusichan on February 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Charlotte Miller is a young girl who just lost her father. She and her younger sister, Rosie, have just inherited the mill that has been in their family for generations. As far as Charlotte can remember their have been whispers of strange goings on at the mill, and likewise to he Miller family, that have been attributed to a curse. Charlotte finds this notion ridiculous and turns her nose up at the townspeople's more superstitious notions, but when events get more dire she begins to give the rumors a bit of credence, particularly so when an eldritch young man shows up at her door offering his services.

Part mystery, part fairy tale, part ghost story this ingenious retelling of "Rumplestiltskin" will have readers stunned from the word go. Bunce has certainly done her research with the workings of mills and the people from this period in history. The result is a strikingly written story that will have it's readers wondering what happened to the characters long after the close of the book. I enjoyed this story far more than I thought I would, and will highly recommend it in the future.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Anidori-Isilee on February 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. Read. This. Book.

As soon as I saw it was available on Amazon, I placed an order, and as soon as the order came, I picked up A Curse Dark as Gold. Since first learning about it, I wanted to read it.

This is a retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin" set during the early days of the Industrial Revolution in a fictitious part of England. After the death of her father, seventeen-year-old Charlotte Miller takes charge of the family's mill. But nothing ever seems to go right. There's debt and vandalism, the mill seems to have a mind of its own, and the superstitious villagers whisper of a curse. And when a stranger appears with the power to spin straw into gold, Charlotte must decide how much his help is worth because everything she holds dear might depend upon her decision.

Okay. So basically, I loved everything about this book. I'm not kidding. I loved the way Bunce weaved in the fairy tale (I've never read a "Rumpelstiltskin" retelling before) and I loved the setting. I loved the characters. Even while I wanted to smack Charlotte, make her see sense, I understood her feelings and actions perfectly. The uncle was another character that even while I wanted to hate him and did, I still loved him as a character. The writing and imagery were beautiful; the other characters wonderful. And this book was dark. Seriously. As I was reading, it was dark, and my room was lit only by reading light. Outside, the wind howled and the rain pounded down, and it wasn't ideal for reading a book that was making my heart race. I wanted nothing more than to pick up something lighter, but I couldn't stop reading A Curse Dark as Gold. I had to learn what happened and I had to finish it. I didn't even read ahead because I didn't want to stop reading.

So yes...
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