A Curse Dark as Gold

A Curse Dark as Gold

by Elizabeth Bunce, Elizabeth C. Bunce

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780439895767
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 03/01/2008
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author


Elizabeth C. Bunce's first novel, A Curse Dark As Gold, won the ALA's William C. Morris Award for a YA debut. Elizabeth cuts, sews, and embroiders both cloth and stories at her home near Kansas City, Missouri. Please visit her website at www.elizabethcbunce.com.

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A Curse Dark as Gold (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 76 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
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.
slimikin More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Bonnie_W More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
abackwardsstory on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
cmbohn on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Themes: fairy tale retelling, love, fate, luck, curses, magic, obligationSetting: little English townCharlotte is a Miller. She and her family have been at Stirwaters mill for generations. Now that her father is dead, it's up to her and her sister to take over the mill and keep it open, thus providing jobs for all the people of the village. But a mortgage for the mill turns up, and Charlotte has just months to make enough money to save the mill and her home.Then there's the curse. It's affected the mill since it was built. Equipment breaks down, the mill is falling apart, and one of the men is injured. Just when Charlotte is desperate, a strange man turns up. He claims his name is Jack Spinner. And he promises to spin straw into gold.Yes, this is Rumplestiltskin, but it's not. There's no king, exactly, and Charlotte is never thrown into the dungeon with a room full of straw. What there is instead is a story that actually makes sense, characters you can care about, and a compelling love story. If you like fairy tale retellings, then you should hurry and get your hands on this one. Even if you don't especially like fairy tales, this is a great book for anyone who likes a little magic in their stories. I loved it. 4.5 stars.
SheilaCornelisse on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I LOVED this book. The characters came to life. Definitely recommended. A novel twist on the folklore of Rumpelstiltskin.
cjbh on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This novel set in the 1700's is based on the old Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale. ¿A Curse Dark As Gold¿ by Elizabeth C. Bunce was selected as one of the "2009 Kansas Notable Books" and one I very much enjoyed reading. Two teen-age sisters left alone after the death of their father and living on a shoestring must decide if they will try to keep the family woolen mill running despite its taxing work and overwhelming mortgage or sell it and cut their losses. Charlotte, the elder sister determined to keep the mill in the family, must deal not only with running the mill but worries about all the jobs that would be lost if the mill closed. Along with this she has to deal with the townsfolk and employees superstitious beliefs that the mill is cursed. Shortly after their father's death arrives their mother's uncle decked out in silk and lace come to the rescue and ready to take charge of the girl's situation. He moves into the home and quickly sets himself up as head of the house. However, Charlotte questions his motives and authority from the beginning. With money tight and the mortgage due a mysterious little man appears that claims to be able to spin straw into gold offering his services. The young ladies must decide if his talent is worth the asking price. Once I started this book it was really hard to put it down until the final word...then I wished the story had not ended.
stephxsu on LibraryThing 8 months ago
When her father dies, it is up to Charlotte Miller to carry the dying Miller tradition of running the Stirwaters Mill, which many believe is cursed. Things repaired one day fall apart again the next, and mysterious accidents befall workers. Practically minded Charlotte refuses to court such superstitious notions, but with the arrival of a pushy uncle and the incidents that thwart her attempts to ward off those who pressure her for money owed, she is forced to become involved in things beyond her understanding. As Charlotte delves deeper in order to unravel the mystery of the curse on Stirwaters, little does she realize how much is at stake.I always look forward to fairy tale retellings, and with this one winning the Morris Award for Best Debut YA, I eagerly picked up A CURSE DARK AS GOLD after two years of having this in my TBR pile. Unfortunately, it was pretty much an all-around disappointment, and in rather unexpected ways: for some reason, the way the story was written, and the way it unfolded, really frustrated and repelled me.A CURSE DARK AS GOLD theoretically had all the elements I like in a story: a unique spin on a fairy tale, a strong female protagonist, and a compelling plot with only the subtly appreciated undertones of romance. However, I wasn¿t far into the book before the way the story was playing out began to irk me. Charlotte¿s vehement insistence that there was no such thing as a curse soon characterized her as blindly stubborn to me: I like my fair share of headstrong and independent females, but not when they are stubborn in a maddeningly close-minded way. Hints about the malignance of the curse were dropped in the book from here to kingdom come, but it was not until the last fifth of the book that things began to be explained, and I can¿t help but think that all stories that are carried forward by the ¿mysterious and pervasive influence¿ of a ¿shocking secret¿ are kind of gimmicky. The absolute lack of forward progression in the plot regarding the understanding of Stirwaters, the Miller history, and the curse made me so frustrated that I was tempted to put the book down forever and not bother to find out how it ended.As Charlotte insisted on pulling away from her loved ones in a misguided effort to protect everyone and shoulder the burden herself, I just couldn¿t bring myself to empathize with her decisions. There¿s a difference between being admirably independent and dumbly mule-headed, and I¿m afraid that Charlotte fell on the wrong side of that line.All in all, A CURSE DARK AS GOLD was actually too light on the Rumpelstiltskin retellings, rendering itself more just a supposedly spooky and tense story of desperation and redemption that turned out not to be my thing, mainly because of my dislike of the main character for her mule-headedness and the way the plot unfolded. These criticisms I have, of course, are far more subjective than my usual ones, and so if you think that these two points won¿t bother you as much as they did me, then I encourage you to give this award-winning book a try. Many important people obviously thought it was a great work, so there is the likelihood that I am in the minority on this one.
callmecayce on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The book, a retelling of the well-known Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, was much darker than I expected. And though it dragged in places (and took me twice as long to read as other fantasy YA), the ending was satisfying. And even though I knew how the original fairy tale ended, it didn't make the tension in Bunce's novel any less stressful. Like so many good fantasy books I've read recently, Bunce creates an extremely strong female character who must fight for the things and people she loves. A Curse as Dark as Gold is an interesting and engaging look at an old, familiar tale.
mayaspector on LibraryThing 8 months ago
In this retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, two sisters are desperately trying to save the family¿s woolen mill after the death of their father. The local folks all believe that there¿s a curse on the mill. Charlotte, the older sister and the one who takes charge, does not believe in curses, or ghosts, or fairies. But she knows she and the mill are in trouble. When she accepts the help of a mysterious and magical man, she gets more than she bargained for.The story is dark and compelling. A good read.
MrsHillReads on LibraryThing 8 months ago
As always I love books with strong, smart female characters who have to overcome terrible odds to be successful. Charlotte's deal with Jack Spinner (a Rumpelstiltskin character) adds to the drama of the story.
mint on LibraryThing 8 months ago
a riveting and complex retelling of the Rumplestiltskin tale. Loved the spooky parts and the way the characters developed and became more intricately interwoven, and the clever use of names.
clio11 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I've been waiting to read A Curse Dark as Gold for several months, mostly because it's been constantly checked out since we first purchased it for our library, but also for a few other reasons. I'm always a wee bit hesitant to read books that have gotten almost unanimously positive reviews, simply because I often find my high expectations disappointed once I begin reading. I also knew that Curse was a retelling of the Rumplestiltskin story, which has never been one of my favorite fairy tales.I must confess that I was also hesitant to read Curse because I felt unreasonably resentful of it for winning the the inaugural Morris award - I was incredibly disappointed that Graceling didn't win, so I was fully prepared to dislike the book that beat it out (because, as we all know, my love for Graceling knows no bounds).I was very happy to discover that A Curse Dark as Gold was every bit as excellent as all of the reviews indicated. Set in England at the start of the Industrial Revolution, Curse tells the story of Charlotte Miller, a young woman whose father's death has left her the proprietor of Stillwaters, a mill that is famous for both the unusual color of its cloth and the fact that it may well be cursed. Charlotte and her sister, Rosie, must contend not only with the curse (which Charlotte is determined not to believe in), but with the villagers who depend on Stillwaters for their livelihoods, rapidly changing technology that may make Stillwaters obsolete, their scheming uncle who appears to ¿help¿ them, their own changing relationships with eachother and their romantic partners, and a rival firm which wants to place the Stillwaters name on inferior cloth.The discovery that their father has taken a large mortgage on the mill before he dies introduces Charlotte to both banker Randall, the man who will become her husband, and to Jack Spinner, a mysterious stranger who appears at each time of trouble to offer his unusual skills at an increasingly terrible price.Using lovely, evocative language, Bunce capably weaves together (sorry, couldn't help myself) the story of the curse, information about mill workers and small towns, the difficulties a young woman faces in running a business in a male-dominated world, a romance, and Charlotte's overriding love for family. Charlotte is a resourceful, although stubborn, heroine, and the supporting characters are well-drawn and believable. The resolution of the curse and the truth of Jack Spinner is creepy and satisfying, although the resolution of the mill's financial problems is less so, relying on a deus ex machina that is less than convincing. I will be strongly recommending A Curse Dark as Gold to fans of fantasy and supernatural romance.
connlibrary on LibraryThing 8 months ago
In this twisted Rumpelstiltskin-like story set in a mill town on the verge of the industrial revolution, Charlotte Miller, the orphaned miller¿s daughter, struggles to run her father¿s woolen mill in the face of ill luck and a family curse that she refuses to believe in. Those who know the original Rumpelstiltskin story can look forward to a unique spin on the characters and story facets with whom they are familiar. Regardless of whether or not you know the original story, you¿ll find your-self caught-up in the story as fantastical elements intertwine with the ordinary problems of life, love, and business at a quaint old mill that can¿t quite keep up with the changes of a new world. What is an ordinary/normal problem? What is a supernatural problem? Who is Jack Spinner? Is anyone who they appear to be? You¿ll be guessing until the end.With a reading level for 7th through 12th grades, this book will make an excellent addition to any high school or public library collection.
knielsen83 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A very different retelling of Rumpelstiltskin - this one is from the viewpoint of a young woman whose father has died and she has to take over caring for the Mill. As much as she tried to avoid acknowledging it, there is a curse on her mill that dates back quite a few decades. Between an estranged uncle, a mill that is falling to pieces, a delightful banker that has caught her eye, and a willful younger sister, she has her hands full. The tale was very passionate with lots of foreshadowing, making it so that I could barely put the book down.
nilchance on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I loved the protagonist and the setting. I became invested enough in this rollercoaster of a story to become angry at fictional characters. A great play off of folklore.
SunnySD on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Charlotte Miller is a young woman with a lot on her plate. Her father's death has left her an underage female in a world where women don't have much power. On her shoulders rests the responsibility for keeping her family's struggling woolen mill afloat. With a scheming uncle, unexpected debt, and the appearance of a mysterious stranger who brings odd gifts complicating what wouldn't be easy in the best of years, Charlotte is pushed to the brink. Can she defeat the curse of the mill? Or will she and her sister be the last of the Millers?A loose adaptation of Rumpelstiltskin, the story is well told and suspenseful. Charlotte is a stubborn and resourceful heroine, and the ending is at once as eerie and satisfying as any might wish for.
patricia_poland on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Excellent reworking of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale. Author Elizabeth Bunce is quoted on the book jacket as saying: "I always wanted to know more about the stories and characters -- the stories beneath the stories. What was that miller's daughter thinking? What did Rumpelstiltskin want the baby for?" So if you've ever wondered about the "story beneath the story" in those fairy tales this is one to try. A slow build-up, a strong female character, revenge, a little magic, family skeletons, love and forgiveness are combined for a good read. Elizabeth - I still want to know more!
librariankristin on LibraryThing 8 months ago
When her father dies, seventeen-year-old Charlotte must struggle to keep the family's woolen mill running in the face on an overwhelming mortgage. When a strange man who claims he can spin straw into cold appears, Charlotte must way the cost of saving the mill. This first novel is a very fine fractured fairy tale retelling of Rumplestiltskin.
cindy.pierce on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Charlotte Miller is working very hard to keep her family¿s beloved woolen mill from closing. It is the life blood of her tiny village. The problem is that women were not usually allowed to own or manage businesses in the early 1700s. The mill is deeply in debt and there seems to be no way to pay off the bank loan or get her grasping Uncle to leave. Then Jack Spinner shows up. He offers to spin straw into golden thread. It would be the answer to all her problems, or would it? The bargain that Charlotte strikes with Jack brings up mysterious secrets and danger from the shadowy past. Will she be able to save the mill and her family?
EdGoldberg on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Charlotte and Rosie Miller's father passed away and they are heir to the mill at Stirwaters. It is unheard of in the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. Try as they might to make a go of it, the Miller curse seems to be rearing its head. Things break. Unknown loans come due for payment. People set fire to the mill and its wares. The final straw is the appearance of the Miller's Uncle Wheeler, who apparently was asked by their father to take care of the girls if something should happen to him. Unfortunately, he is there to take advantage, not help the situation.It is a time of superstition and hexes, curses and fairies. Rosie, in a fit of desperation, tries a bit of magic and Rumplestiltskin, in the form of Jack Spinner appears and, overnight, turns straw into gold thread that Charlotte and sell and stave off the first of several foreclosure threats. But, of course, Jack Spinner wants something in return for his services and payment can be very steep.While I thought A Curse Dark as Gold started off well, it dragged on much too long for me. There wasn't enough action or magic to hold my interest and I put it down after reading 300 out of 400 pages, the last 100 or so included some skimming. While I thought Bunce's idea was interesting, because I like retelling fairytales, this dragged on a bit too long. Editing out 100 pages would have/could have made this book quite a bit better.On the plus side, the characters were good. I liked who I was supposed to like: the townspeople, Charlotte and Rosie, Biddy Tom (the town's nurse, spell caster, etc.), Randall (Charlotte's husband and the banker who called the first loan). I disliked who I was supposed to dislike, namely Uncle Wheeler. However, it wasn't enough to sustain the book.