When her father dies, seventeen-year-old Charlotte Miller assumes the ownership of Stirwaters Mill, which her family has run for generations. The work isn’t easy, but Charlotte is supported by the goodhearted townspeople of Shearing, whose livelihoods depend on the mill’s business. Still, bad luck dogs Charlotte’s every step and despite all her hard work, she finds herself on the brink of losing Stirwaters. Enter Jack Spinner, a mysterious wanderer who in exchange for very little, miraculously manages to spin a room full of straw into pure gold thread. Practical Charlotte doesn’t believe in magic, so she doesn’t think too hard about the thread’s origins and hides her ill-gotten treasure from her gentle fiancée Randall. Each time a disaster befalls Charlotte’s business, Jack Spinner appears with his nimble fingers and an offer she can’t refuse. But when Jack asks for the ultimate sacrifice, Charlotte must finally admit that something supernatural is going down and if she wants to save her family and friends, she’s going to have to get to the bottom of it. Before she knows it, Charlotte is embroiled in a mystery several decades old that involves an ancient curse, a wrongful death and a vengeful ghost. Who is Jack Spinner? What does he really want from Charlotte? And will she be able to find out in time to rescue the mill and everything she holds dear? Though newbie author Elizabeth C. Bunce takes her time weaving this Rumpelstiltskin re-telling, the payoff is worth it when Charlotte faces down her family’s surprisingly sympathetic mortal foe once and for all. Set in Industrial Revolution England, the rich historical details give this familiar tale an even meatier warp and weft, and Charlotte’s character development from a rule abiding, levelheaded girl to a strong, open minded woman ready to do anything to save her loved ones is a pleasure to behold. Curse was also chosen as one of the finalists for the very first William C. Morris YA Debut Award, along with Madapple, one of my 2008 Top Ten books!
A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce