Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Book Review: A Curse Dark as Gold

Star Rating: 2/5

A Curse Dark as Gold

By: Elizabeth C. Bunce

Charlotte Miller was used to responsibility. She’d been raising her sister since their mom passed away and helping her dad run Stirwaters mill, too. Someday she knew the mill would be entirely her responsibility, but she didn’t expect the day to come so soon. With her father’s death, the employment of most of the village comes to rest on Charlotte’s shoulders, and she is forced to take the lead. All seems to be going well. She establishes herself as Stirwaters’ new miller, refusing to sell to the mill’s competition. She holds her own during wool purchasing, grabbing good quality wool at fair prices. Production runs relatively smoothly, with little more than the usual bumps and hitches. Her uncle even arrives, offering his aid. Then everything turns against her as she discovers that her father took out an outrageous mortgage that must be paid and that the Wool Guild has blocked her goods from the market. Utterly refusing to fail, Charlotte is drawn into a deal as good as gold with the mysterious Jack Spinner. While this bargain hardly seems costly, she becomes entangled in the dark, hidden past Spinner has had with the mill and the Millers before her.

Bunce weaves a clever yet unsatisfying story playing with the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale in A Curse Dark as Gold. The villain Jack Spinner is both creepy and compelling. The more he appears, the more frightening and interesting he becomes. Unfortunately, this eerie and rich antagonist and his grim back story hardly make up for the nearly flat and largely unsympathetic heroine. While Charlotte is pushed into a role of authority and responsibility, she is quite capable of handling the position. The hardships she encounters throughout the novel come not from her lack of experience but from sabotage, a curse, and her own pride. She is undeservedly blessed with an angelic husband in movie-style fashion as it only takes three encounters to bring about their engagement. But his presence makes Charlotte even more frustrating as her actions in relation to him and her new position bring out the worst in her. The most disappointing part of the story, however, may be the end. Though if you’re seeking a fairy tale ending, you’ve found it, for all will be unrealistically set right and then some in just a few days.

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