Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Curse As Dark As Gold

Charlotte Miller's life is hard and is about to get worse. Her father has passed away, leaving only her and her younger sister to maintain the running of the local mill, which employs most of their small town. The mill has been plagued by problems for years-- machinery breaks, repairs don't hold, and the families who run it experience hardship and death. A long-lost uncle moves in to "help" the girls, but he thinks they should sell the mill and marry well. It doesn't seem like a bad idea-- loans come due, competitors try to buy them out and then ruin them, catastrophic failures occur in the machinery, and the mill is the target of malicious vandals many times. Each time matters look impossible, an itinerant work by the name of Jack Spinner happens by to save them. He spins gold thread for them to sell, repairs cloth that is damaged and saves the mill from utter ruin-- but at what price?

Elizabeth C. Bunche's retelling of the Rumplestiltskin tale works on many levels. The writing is descriptive and highly readable, the plot moves quickly from one disaster to another, and the motivations of the characters make sense. This tale has been reworked several times, from Vande Velde's The Rumplestiltskin Problem to Napoli's Spinners, but this version gives some new insight into Rumplestiltskin's motivations and a great back story to all of the characters.

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