24 October 2008 @ 09:22 am
Book Log: A Curse Dark as Gold  

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

When Charlotte Miller's father dies, her world feels flipped on its head, but she knows what she has to do: what she always has. The Stirwaters Mill has been in her family for generations, and it has always been at the center of the town of Shearing. All of the townsfolk work in and around the Mill--it provides livelihood for all of them.

And so Charlotte knows that she must pick up where her father left off, and, with the help of her sister Rosie, run the Mill and keep the town afloat.

But one spate of bad luck after another foul all of Charlotte's plans and labors, until she must face the terrible possibility of failure. And that's when the mysterious Jack Spinner shows up, with the power to spin straw into gold, and the ability to rescue Charlotte and Shearing from despair.

Accepting his help is tantalizing and impossible to refuse. But is it worth the cost? Charlotte is sure that she will sacrifice anything to keep her family and friends afloat, but when she learns the true price of Jack Spinner's aid, Charlotte will have to fight to protect her town, her home and her family.

Where do I begin with what I loved about this book? I loved everything. I loved the way that marriage is presented as imperfect, as flawed, as not the happy ending, but instead as merely the middle of someone's story. I loved the strong female characters, Charlotte and Rosie both, and I loved their flaws. I loved the very creepy ghost story.

This book is gut-wrenching. There were a few spots that were so awful I needed to literally close the book and stop reading for a little while, because it was too much for me. I was so pained for the characters that it hurt to read--I turned the pages with great gasping breaths.

It starts slow, but once you get into it is sucks you in and steals your will to do anything but find out what happens, how the story evolves and how the characters grow. It's utterly compelling.

It's a lovely story that shares some similarities with Sharon Shinn's Truth Teller's Tale series--vivid descriptions of country life, and a plot that is small in stature--it's not the fate of the world on the line, just the fate of one family and one small town--but the danger and terror and overwhelming price of failure is heavy nonetheless.

This is a beautiful book, all around. It's a little slow in the starting, but once you get sucked into the narrative, you won't be able to get it out of your mind until long after you turn the last page.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
רא רא רא'א א: [buffy] is it bright where you arecidercupcakes on October 24th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
Just so you know, I've been reading each of your entries on your Book Log, and I'm so glad that you decided to do this -- I've got so many new items added to my Wish List. Thanks so much for doing this, or at least doing it in your LJ.
The Muse, Amused: read to someone you lovepenmage on October 24th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! I'd love to hear what you think if you read any of them. I'm so glad you're enjoying.

Edited at 2008-10-24 03:04 pm (UTC)
faerie_writer on October 24th, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
I loved this book too!
Hannahbuymeaclue on October 29th, 2008 01:05 pm (UTC)
I just found this one at the library. Hope I get to it before it needs to go back (it's up against the new Kathe Koja, which is at least short, and the second Octavian Nothing, which is...not).
The Muse, Amused: reading pigeonpenmage on October 29th, 2008 01:08 pm (UTC)
Ohhh, you are in for a treat. So good. I am jealous of the new Octavian Nothing, though. I'd say, "work faster, library!" but I'm on a strictly SF/F diet until the Cybils are over.
The Polysyllabic Popinjaymendoza on January 4th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
I wanted to thank you for recommending this book. I got it in my big post-holiday book order along with some others from your booklog (Graceling, The City in the Lake). I started reading it during my lunch break at work the other day and was immediately hooked. I kept trying to sneak in some reading during the day -- no easy task given our "open seating plan" office -- and gulped the rest down in big handfuls as soon as I got home. It's the kind of book that made me resent time spent not reading it. As soon as I put it down, I had to go back and flip through it again because I couldn't quite let go.

I'm so grateful for your recommendation. This book was a treasure to read.
The Muse, Amused: metamorphosis and discoverypenmage on January 4th, 2009 08:26 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you loved it. I loved it too (as I'm sure you picked up from my review. :) I remember devouring it too--I couldn't think of anything but Charlotte and Stirwaters, and I just wanted to know what happens. It's got such a gorgeous cover too.

It actually made our shortlist for the Cybils, which made me really happy. :)

I'll be interested to hear what you think of City in the Lake, too. That was one of my favorite discoveries from my Cybils reading. I thought it was gorgeous and completely unlike anything else I've ever read.

Thank you for telling me you read Curse! It makes me immeasurably happy to know that people are reading and loving books because of my reviews.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )