Customer Reviews for

A Curse Dark as Gold

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Reviewed by Julie M. Prince for TeensReadToo.com

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....
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. She is forced to play the hand that's dealt, facing sinister forces she once easily dismissed.

A strong protagonist indeed.

Every word counts in this amazing book. The language, while assuredly stunning and appealing, is never frivolous. It's hard to believe this is a debut novel, and I eagerly await whatever Ms. Bunce wishes to put in front of me next, as it's sure to be delightful and satisfying if it's near the quality of A CURSE DARK AS GOLD.

posted by TeensReadToo on October 27, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

A curse is right!

A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce is a very dark and grim story. If you are looking for a happy fairy tale, this isn't it. This story is a tale of debt, money, and death, which aren't usually happy subjects. I was supposed to read a book outside of what I usua...
A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce is a very dark and grim story. If you are looking for a happy fairy tale, this isn't it. This story is a tale of debt, money, and death, which aren't usually happy subjects. I was supposed to read a book outside of what I usually read and this was not a very good choice. I think I'll stick to happier stories. But this book isn't all that bad once you get about half way through it, it actually becomes a bit interesting.

The main character is Charlotte Miller. As a young person, she has a lot of responsibility. I have a hard time connecting with her character as I can't relate to her life of such sadness. The author does an excellent job describing Charlotte and you can feel her misery and sadness.

Bunce is a very descriptive person, making this story longer than it really needs to be. I can relate to that because I too tend to drag on and become too descriptive... and that seems to bore people. This story is supposed to resemble the classic Rumpelstiltskin. In this story the character is Jack Spinner. Jack is a background character and very little of the story is about him. I felt that, even though Bunce is such a descriptive writer, Jack Spinner was a bit undeveloped.

Everyone knows the story of Rumpelstiltskin. The question is why would you want to read an elongated version as redone in this book? In my opinion, I think A Curse as Dark as Gold took a great classic fairy tale and turned it into a very dark and dreary novel.

But before you get too discouraged by my review, after about 200 pages, the story becomes quite intriguing. With romance brewing and the family feuds spreading, the entire community becomes affected. This story is so grim it makes you wonder if there could be a happy ending.

This book bordered on dull and wouldn't be a book I would recommend to any of my friends. There are lots of wonderful books in the library and I think this book is just too depressing to be my choice. and if it wasn't an assignment I probably wouldn't have finished it. The writer was very descriptive and the characters well described but the theme left you with an overwhelming feeling of sadness that was hard to overcome.

I hope this was helpful

posted by Cougar_H on March 2, 2009

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  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Julie M. Prince for TeensReadToo.com

    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. <BR/><BR/>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? <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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." <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. She is forced to play the hand that's dealt, facing sinister forces she once easily dismissed. <BR/><BR/>A strong protagonist indeed. <BR/><BR/>Every word counts in this amazing book. The language, while assuredly stunning and appealing, is never frivolous. It's hard to believe this is a debut novel, and I eagerly await whatever Ms. Bunce wishes to put in front of me next, as it's sure to be delightful and satisfying if it's near the quality of A CURSE DARK AS GOLD.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    This is the way to retell Rumpletstiltskin!

    There are several fairy tales that lend themselves well to a retelling or reinterpretation, but "Rumpelstiltskin" usually isn't one of them. I've encountered quite a few attempts, and they all end up rather nonsensical, just like the original story. This is the first retelling I've read that really, truly breathes life and purpose into the bare, twisted bones of Rumpelstiltskin's tale. It starts a little slow, but Bunce builds the suspense, and sense of menace, superbly in that easy pace, leading at length to an ending that is exactly what an ending should be. I won't say more than that for fear of ruining your own experience of the novel, but I recommend this to anyone who has enjoyed Laura Whitcomb's A Certain Slant of Light or Katharine Eliska Kimbriel's Night Calls.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2008

    Wonderful, exciting, couldn't put it down

    A Curse as Dark as Gold was a wonderful read. It has a strong heroine, great characters and a plot that pulls you along. The book gets more and more gripping as it goes. By the end I could not put it down. I would highly recommend it to anyone, adult or teen.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Historical Fiction mixed with a dash of Fairy Tale

    Rumpelstiltskin was always one of the creepier fairy tales. Growing up, who didn't cower when they heard his requests? With A Curse Dark as Gold, I love the fact that Elizabeth C. Bunce chose to retell the tale in her own unique way. Even better, the book takes place during the Industrial Revolution. Fans of fairy tales with historical twists such as Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days will eat this novel up. I also love that Bunce's rendering has a life of its own; "Rumpelstiltskin" himself does not exist in the same form. As Bunce says in her Author's Note, she was inspired by "Name of the Helper" tales, not just the famous German version we all grew up with. Even more interesting, "naming" doesn't really play a role in this novel.

    The book centers around Charlotte Miller after her father dies, leaving her and her younger sister, Rosie, to run the mill. The old place is falling apart and never allows itself to be properly fixed, leaving the workers to whisper about curses and otherworldly creatures. Charlotte believes their mutterings to be nothing more than superstition, convinced that everything has been one long string of bad luck that has kept the mill from running fluidly. The girls are soon joined by Uncle Wheeler, who seems benevolent on the surface, but is hiding his own secrets. At first, the girls are happy to have his help-until it becomes apparent that he'd rather sell the mill and marry them off. It's up to Charlotte to take matters into her own hands and keep the mill running. Along the way, she's met with more bad luck, but also happy coincidences. We watch her marry and have a baby. All isn't as happy as it seems, however. Someone is trying to ruin the mill, and each time the sabotage is discovered, Charlotte must turn to the mysterious Jack Spinner for help. Eventually, Jack asks for something so priceless in exchange that Charlotte will do whatever it takes to find out the truth behind the mill's run of bad luck.

    A Curse Dark as Gold is beautiful and lyrical, full of descriptions you want to highlight and hold close to your heart. The book is also grounded in reality; Charlotte doesn't believe the superstitious stories everyone tells, and when she explains why each new scenario is bad luck, it's easy to believe her logic. Bunce is such a deft reader, that readers are left wondering whether occurrences are supernatural or real just like all of the characters. The novel also consists of strong character development. Jack Spinner is properly creepy, and you're always on your toes around Uncle Wheeler. You cheer for Charlotte when she finds happiness, but want to throttle her when she holds her secrets close to her chest, refusing to confide in anyone. Even more minor characters have roles to play, and the way Bunce resorts to using last names based on a person's position the way it used to be helps keep everyone straight. The book starts off slow, but picks up in speed, especially at the end. Along the way, it's a beautiful story full of historical context with just the right mix of fairy tale thrown in.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2008

    A winner.

    Set in the fictional eighteenth-century town of Shearing, A Curse Dark as Gold is a complex tale of magic, greed, love, and redemption inspired by the fairytale ¿Rumpelstiltskin.¿ Stirwaters mill is the town¿s heart. When James Miller dies without a male heir, the mill falls to his two young daughters, Charlotte and Rosie. Charlotte takes on the responsibility of running the mill, realizing that without it the town will die and the populace will be hard pressed to make ends meet. Although the girls know much about the mill¿s operation, they find that many aren¿t willing to do business with women. Also, a rival mill in a nearby town would like to eliminate the competition. Add to that the mill¿s proclivity to drop signs on innocent bystanders and refuse repairs to cracks and crevices, which reappear overnight. There are rumors that the mill is cursed, but Charlotte won¿t believe it. And the local superstitions are nonsense, of course. Like the miller¿s daughter in ¿Rumpelstiltskin,¿ Charlotte must do the impossible. She accepts help from a mysterious man, Jack Spinner, who offers her a way out. For her mother¿s cheap ring, he¿ll spin straw into golden thread. The next time, the price is a bit dearer. But it¿s only jewelry and compared to the livelihood of a town, it seems a small price. And the final price? Maybe more than Charlotte can pay. But what connection does this man have to the mill and the bad fortune that plagues it? Charlotte needs to figure that out to save her mill, her town, and her family. Elizabeth Bunce has an amazing talent for immersing the reader in her setting. The town and mill fairly reek of old England, as do her characters. Charlotte is head-strong and determined. Rosie is charmingly impulsive. Uncle Wheeler is delightfully arrogant and wicked, and the numerous townsfolk fit into the story perfectly. Ms. Bunce has used ordinary words to spin a finely crafted work of art¿A Curse Dark as Gold.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2008

    Couldn't Wait

    I saw the cover of the book and couldn't wait to read it. Some of the good reviews didn't do it justice. Such an amazing retelling of such an old and well known story, that you think there could be nothing new. This is better than you could imagine and you will love the book

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2008

    A BOOK WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD

    Ms. Bunce has turned an old fairy tales into a beautifully written, well researched novel, not only for young adults, but people who love fantasy and enjoy trying to figure out how the book is going to end. But then you don't want it to end. The writing is tight, flawless, and she doesn't waste a work telling a wonderful story.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012

    I agree with everyone who says it's an awesomely haunting fairy tale.

    I love the retelling of Rumplestiltskin. It's not really too old fashioned but it's not modern either. It's really great for like grade 6 and up. I reread...a lot. It's something that really sticks with you. I remember most of it (certain parts really... not gonna be the spoiler) it's sticks that well and it's tense, it's a real page-turner. Take my word for it! = )

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it!!!

    Read in my book club and loved the characters, story and lovely writing. Nicely developed romance, ghostly happenings and a tough and determined heroine and feisty sister. Highly recommend!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it!!!

    Read in my book club and loved the characters, story and lovely writing. Nicely developed romance, ghostly happenings and a tough and determined heroine and feisty sister. Highly recommend!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 13, 2009

    It's Cool

    This book is definatly one of my favorites. I love the suprtnatural and this book has it by the ton. I also love that this book has a little bit of romance but it is the friendship kind of romance. The Miller girls show the kind of willpower needed to survive then and now. These girls, Charolette and Rosie, are the modern day careermakers of their time. This is a Rumpelstiltskin tale remade.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A curse is right!

    A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce is a very dark and grim story. If you are looking for a happy fairy tale, this isn't it. This story is a tale of debt, money, and death, which aren't usually happy subjects. I was supposed to read a book outside of what I usually read and this was not a very good choice. I think I'll stick to happier stories. But this book isn't all that bad once you get about half way through it, it actually becomes a bit interesting.

    The main character is Charlotte Miller. As a young person, she has a lot of responsibility. I have a hard time connecting with her character as I can't relate to her life of such sadness. The author does an excellent job describing Charlotte and you can feel her misery and sadness.

    Bunce is a very descriptive person, making this story longer than it really needs to be. I can relate to that because I too tend to drag on and become too descriptive... and that seems to bore people. This story is supposed to resemble the classic Rumpelstiltskin. In this story the character is Jack Spinner. Jack is a background character and very little of the story is about him. I felt that, even though Bunce is such a descriptive writer, Jack Spinner was a bit undeveloped.

    Everyone knows the story of Rumpelstiltskin. The question is why would you want to read an elongated version as redone in this book? In my opinion, I think A Curse as Dark as Gold took a great classic fairy tale and turned it into a very dark and dreary novel.

    But before you get too discouraged by my review, after about 200 pages, the story becomes quite intriguing. With romance brewing and the family feuds spreading, the entire community becomes affected. This story is so grim it makes you wonder if there could be a happy ending.

    This book bordered on dull and wouldn't be a book I would recommend to any of my friends. There are lots of wonderful books in the library and I think this book is just too depressing to be my choice. and if it wasn't an assignment I probably wouldn't have finished it. The writer was very descriptive and the characters well described but the theme left you with an overwhelming feeling of sadness that was hard to overcome.

    I hope this was helpful

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2008

    kind if boring

    This book had so many boring parts that I skipped over. I really tried to like it, since I love to read. But in the end I had to ask my teacher if there was any chance I could chose a different book to do my project on. If you like long boring books, this is the one for you!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2008

    A Tense, Thrilling Story

    'Rumpelstiltskin' isn't my favorite fairytale, but this dark and beautiful retelling is an incredible read. The setting--England at the very beginning of the Industrial Revolution--with the miller's worries over debt and bankruptcy made the story extremely real for me. The characters are lively and engaging, even the secondary ones like the townspeople. The female miller, who is just trying to keep her family safe and the people who depend on her for a living working, is a character I can admire, as is the banker who comes to respect her. And the twist on Rumpelstiltskin, as well as the reason for all of the misfortunes that have befallen the Miller family, is both believable and startling. By the end I was on the edge of my seat, praying that everything would turn out well. But don't take *my* word for it. One of her cover blurbs comes from no less of a writer than Peter Beagle!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2013

    Great reader book

    This book is good boik so far the girls dad dies and she is stuck with her sister

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2012

    :)

    I luv it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Loved it!

    Great story, characters and writing. Highly recommend!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    yuck yuck yuck

    im sorry but this book is my least favorite ever. I can read 500 pages in a day when i really want to but this book took me like a week to finish this f-er. yea i finished it but i couldnt stand it i skipped at least 100 pages in this book. If u r 1 to like the whole love story stuff and is a fan of twiliht THIS IS NOT A BOOK 4 U and i am sorry to admit it

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Exciting, satisfying fairy tale/ghost story

    Spooky and satisfying with two strong-willed female lead characters. Once I started I just couldn't put it down. Lush setting, historical fantasy makes the Gold Valley feel like it really existed. Set in a fantasy place of the old world on the brink of an industrial revolution, author Elizabeth Bunce's writing and choice of words and use of language is second to none for anyone wanting to savor great writing. This book was awarded the 2009 ALA William C. Morris Award, and the novel was picked as an Oprah's Book Club Kids Reading List selection, a Smithsonian Notable Book and a YALSA best book for 2008. The author's knowledge of old world superstitions and life in a town centered around a textile mill which may or may not be under the curse from a familiar fairy tale will stay with you long after you're done reading. Haunting ghost story with characters you'll care about, filled with real-life romance and gripping dialogue. A must read for fans of fantasy, lovers of fairy tale retellings and fans of Shannon Hale and Tamora Pierce. Can't wait for her next book StarCrossed to be released soon!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2011

    really great book

    this book was really descriptive and had an amazing -fresh yet old- twist on the well known fairytale, Rumplestiltsken. i freaking loved this book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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