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Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on March 1st 2008
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy
This ravishing winner of the ALA's William C. Morris YA Debut Award is a fairy tale, spun with a mystery, woven with a family story, and shot through with romance.
Charlotte Miller has always scoffed at talk of a curse on her family's woolen mill, which holds her beloved small town together. But after her father's death, the bad luck piles up: departing workers, impossible debts, an overbearing uncle. Then a stranger named Jack Spinner offers a tempting proposition: He can turn straw into gold thread, for the small price of her mother's ring. As Charlotte is drawn deeper into her bargains with Spinner-and a romance with the local banker-she must unravel the truth of the curse on the mill and save the community she's always called home.
This was a good book with solid writing, dialogue, plot and research but I spent a large majority of this story not knowing what was going on. It was incredibly frustrating to read and constantly ask myself what the hell was happening.
The setting is vague – which for a fairy-tale retelling works perfectly. However when Bunce puts so much effort into detailing the current socio-economic changes of the times, but then almost refuses to give names to political organizations its almost time wasted spent detailing that amount of historical research.
Rumpelstiltskin was a great character in this book, but it took forever to really delve into his backstory. Learning that the Miller family was willing to choose their business over their sons was a little horrifying – but I liked the angle of a girl in a man’s world proving she could handle the family business. She was head strong and willing to work, a nonbeliever to the supernatural and curses. Until she jumped ship and promises anything as payment.
I prefer Bunce’s unfinished Thief Errant trilogy, but her lyrical prose worked well for this historical fairy tale in some aspects. In the end I was a little sick of the main character and the lack of shared knowledge the reader received.