Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Curse as Dark as Gold

Charlotte Miller is transitioning into adulthood during a difficult time. Her beloved father recently passed away and left her the family mill. Most of the people in the small community of Shearing assumed that she would sell the mill; it was unusual for a young woman to own and operate a business in England during the early Industrial Revolution. The family mill, Stirwaters, is a strange and old-fashioned place. For some reason, the mill does not seem to like being upgraded. The villagers are notoriously superstitious and believe that the mill is cursed. The Millers have had a string of bad luck that has lasted for generations. This notably includes the fact that a first-born son has never inherited the mill. Charlotte is able to keep the mill running, but then discovers that her father has taken out a mortgage on the mill before his death. The money has never been used to fix up the mill, and Charlotte not faces the prospect of pay back 2000 pounds. Luckily a drifting worker stops by the mill after Charlotte's sister performs a summoning rite, and offers to spin straw into gold thread in exchange for the ring Charlotte inherited from her mother. This updated and expanded version of Rumpelstiltskin is detailed, imaginitive, and captivating.

Of all the book that I chose to read for the second unit, this is the only one that I would consider using in a class as required reading. It was a bit difficult to get into the story, but it is also the book with the most substantive story. This is an excellent choice for any student who is interested in fairy tales, especially updated versions. It is also inspiring to see a young woman stand up for herself and her chosen life in a time when most women were expected to stay at home and take care of their husbands and children. Unlike some other novels I have read, Charlotte comes across as strong willed rather than stubborn and confident instead of demanding and shrewish. I think that young women will especially appreciate this novel.


Anonymous said...

I've always really liked books set during the Industrial Revolution. This seems like a cool book!

I'm always one for strong female characters and magic. :) I'll have to check it out to find out what happens!

Marisela said...

She also wrote the book I read, "Liar's Moon" you should check it out. It is not a sequel to it though!

Anonymous said...

It sound like a good book club book or literature circle book for those interested in this topic and genre. I'll have to keep it in mind

KMilsap said...

As a child I loved the book and movie Rumpelstiltskin. Seems like this would be a good read!