Originally posted on Leah’s Books.
- Author: Marissa Meyer
- Genre: Fantasy
- Publication Date: November 2, 2021
- Publisher: Macmillan Audio
- Series: Gilded #1
CONTENT WARNING: gore, violence, death of a parent, death of children
Marissa Meyer, #1 New York Times-bestselling author, returns to the fairytale world with this haunting retelling of Rumpelstiltskin.
Long ago cursed by the god of lies, a poor miller’s daughter has developed a talent for spinning stories that are fantastical and spellbinding and entirely untrue.
Or so everyone believes.
When one of Serilda’s outlandish tales draws the attention of the sinister Erlking and his undead hunters, she finds herself swept away into a grim world where ghouls and phantoms prowl the earth and hollow-eyed ravens track her every move. The king orders Serilda to complete the impossible task of spinning straw into gold, or be killed for telling falsehoods. In her desperation, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious boy to her aid. He agrees to help her… for a price. Love isn’t meant to be part of the bargain.
Soon Serilda realizes that there is more than one secret hidden in the castle walls, including an ancient curse that must be broken if she hopes to end the tyranny of the king and his wild hunt forever.
Ever since the Lunar Chronicles, I’ve been a fan of Marissa Meyer’s books. I was hoping to get an early copy of this, but alas, not all wishes come true, so I had to wait until I could get it through my library. I gave the audiobook a shot, and found that Rebecca Soler did a great job with the narration.
This story delves deeply into German folklore to round out the Rumpelstiltskin retelling, and her research really shows. I enjoyed learning more about these folktales that I’ve heard so little about, although she blended them seamlessly with this innovative retelling of a story I’ve known since I was young.
I loved Serilda’s character. She has her flaws, but it only made me like her more. She’s got unusual eyes, which single her out from other people in the village. And she has learned to find solace in her many creative stories, earning her love from the children she interacts with, but only further isolates her from adults in her village, who consider her to be a liar. And while she is devoted to the children and her father, she has plenty of questions about her mother, who left their family long ago.
Naturally, when the Erlking comes for her, believing her lie about being able to spin straw into gold, he wants to claim her powers for himself. I loved the way the story unfolded, and found it so easy to like Serilda’s character, as well as her tales.
However, I found the pacing to be a bit off. The beginning and the end of the book were great, although the middle part of the story was dragged out a bit, getting somewhat repetitive. At times, I had trouble figuring out what was the story itself and what was Serilda’s stories, although I think this was more due to reading this in audiobook format over a printed copy. And the romance at the center of the story was difficult for me to get fully invested in since it occurred so quickly, although I guess it isn’t hard to see how two lonely and isolated people could fall in love.
Overall, this was an enjoyable story, although I think it could definitely have worked better if it was a little shorter. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and learning more about folklore that I didn’t know much about. It ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, and I’m definitely curious to see what happens next.