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A Curse Dark As Gold

A Curse Dark As Gold

4.0 55
by Elizabeth Bunce, Elizabeth C. Bunce

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The gold thread promises Charlotte Miller a chance to save her family's beloved woolen mill. It promises a future for her sister, jobs for her townsfolk, security against her grasping uncle -- maybe even true love.
To get the thread, Charlotte must strike a bargain with its maker, the mysterious Jack Spinner. But the gleam of gold conjures a shadowy past --


The gold thread promises Charlotte Miller a chance to save her family's beloved woolen mill. It promises a future for her sister, jobs for her townsfolk, security against her grasping uncle -- maybe even true love.
To get the thread, Charlotte must strike a bargain with its maker, the mysterious Jack Spinner. But the gleam of gold conjures a shadowy past -- secrets ensnaring generations of Millers. And Charlotte's mill, her family, her love -- what do those matter to a stranger who can spin straw into gold?
This is an award-winning and wholly original retelling of "Rumplestiltskin."

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet 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. 53 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
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
When their father dies suddenly, Charlotte Miller and her younger sister Rose are left in charge of the family mill. With it comes the large responsibility of seeing to the mill's numerous employees as well. The Millers are not known for their good fortune. Some even claim that the family has been cursed though Charlotte is loathe to put any stock in such silly superstitions. Still, the mill's usual problems seem to multiply dangerously after Charlotte takes charge. Mending broken equipment and painting faded walls can only go so far, however, when Charlotte learns that her father also left behind a shocking debt. Desperate to save the mill and protect those who work there, Charlotte enters into a dangerous bargain with a man known merely as Jack Spinner. But every bargain comes with a price. As the stakes grow higher, Charlotte begins to realize that saving her mill may jeopardize everyone she holds dear in A Curse as Dark as Gold (2008) by Elizabeth C. Bunce. A Curse as Dark as Gold is a loose retelling of the fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin. It is Bunce's first novel and winner of the 2009 William C. Morris Debut Award. A Curse as Dark as Gold is a lush and well-researched historical novel with just a hint of fantasy to better accommodate the fairytale retelling aspect. Bunce's prose is immediately evocative and brings Charlotte's village and the mill to life. Fairy tales in general, but especially Rumpelstiltskin, are often very black and white, making it easy to tell exactly who the villain is. A Curse as Dark as Gold complicates things with rich, thoughtful characters who raise interesting questions throughout the narrative. While there are some decidedly bad choices and terrible acts, no one is ever completely bad anymore than they are entirely good. Despite the vibrant settings and compelling characters, A Curse as Dark as Gold is a slow read. While the pacing allows readers to really know Charlotte and her world, the novel doesn't get to the actual plot (not to mention the retelling aspect) until the second half of the novel. It is also impossible to ignore the fact that a significant number of problems for the characters could have been avoided with good communication. At several points throughout the novel, if Charlotte had chosen to talk to anyone about even half of what she had done or suspected, the entire plot could have easily been resolved. Instead Charlotte clings stubbornly to her pride and a foolish belief that, as head of the mill, she is meant to deal with all of the Miller's problems entirely on her own. Plot aside, A Curse as Dark as Gold is a beautifully written and very solid historical novel, making it easy to understand why it garnered the Morris win in 2009. Despite its interesting take on Rumpelstiltskin and a charmingly romantic plot thread, this novel remains a slow and often dense read. Recommended for readers who enjoy strong writing and well-rounded characters. A Curse as Dark as Gold will hold particular appeal for readers who can ignore weak plot points in favor of dazzling prose. Possible Pairings: Chime by Franny Billingsley, Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevemer
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was good a little slow at first but picks up a little. :)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is good boik so far the girls dad dies and she is stuck with her sister
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I luv it!
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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! = )
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KR66 More than 1 year ago
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!
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shy95 More than 1 year ago
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.