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A CURSE DARK AS GOLD by Elizabeth C. Bunce


by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-439-89576-7
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

In a hefty, thoughtful Rumpelstiltskin tale, Charlotte Miller fights and strains and sacrifices to embody her surname. The Miller family runs Stirwaters, a river-powered textile mill in a pre-industrial village. It’s been passed down haphazardly because no Miller son ever lives to inherit it. Charlotte and sister Rosie take over upon their father’s death, but troubles persist. Non-superstitious Charlotte resists the idea of a family curse; she insists the ongoing destruction is simply bad luck and vandalism. A perfumed, dandy uncle arrives to wrest power away from the sisters. Bunce writes the mill as a character too, bound into the family “by loss and grief and vengeance.” As stubborn Charlotte fiercely defends Stirwaters against physical and financial ruin, misguided habits of secrecy and fear lead to a near-loss of her infant son to the Rumpelstiltskin figure, a classic tortured ghost from ages past. His origins unravel the tangled mystery. Slow pacing and a protagonist with infuriating secretiveness may deter some readers, but those who stick it out will find substance and beauty. (author’s note) (Fantasy. YA)