Historical Fantasy, Young Adult
Arthur A. Levine Books
March 1st, 2008
Borrowed from my local library
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 one was recommended to me by the beauteous Misty at The Book Rat, during her Fairytale Fortnight last year. And as usual, her recommendation was spot-on.
This retelling of the Rumplestiltskin fairytale is set in the early days of the Industrial Revolution (late 1700s) and takes place entirely around the wool textile industry of rural England. Which, to be frank, I know nothing about. But the author does such a wonderful job of providing enough vivid details to support the story (without breaking pace or distracting from the plot) that I didn’t feel lost at all.
As stories go, despite knowing the source material, this one surprised me a few times. There’s a very sweet love story, a very relatable coming-of-age tale, some messages about family, loyalty, and place (place being its own character here), and a fantastical story of curse breaking and folklore.
I definitely recommend this for fans of historical fantasy (that’s historical fiction with a sprinkling of magical realism), fairytale retellings, and pastoral tales with character-driven narratives.