This ravishing winner of the ALA's William C. Morris YA Debut Award is a fairy tale, spun with a mystery, woven with a family story, and shot through with romance. 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 was wonderfully written and riveting at times. The characters were realistic and after being submerged in this novel, the magic was believable as well. The fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin was wonderfully woven into the heart of this tale. I hadn’t realized that’s what it was about until I was 1/4 of the way through.
I appreciated how clean this one was. There was maybe one chaste kiss and barely any swearing.
I loved the relationship between the two sisters. They’re both strong willed, yet I found myself wishing the story was written from young, spit-fire Rosie’s point of view instead of the uptight Charlotte’s. It was also difficult at times to know exactly what Charlotte was feeling in each situation because Bunce doesn’t expound on Charlotte’s emotions well enough. And more frustrating that that was how blind Charlotte was and how unwilling she was to ask for help. So much of the mess she got herself into could have been prevented had she just told Rendell (you’ll find out who that is if you read it) the truth from the beginning. Another annoying aspect of this novel was that I didn’t know how old the girls were. Rosie is said to be too young to live on her own, yet her character acts as if she’s nearing her twenties and we don’t discover that she’s 14 until the second to the last page.
I found myself glued to the book the last 100 pages. Unfortunately, I didn’t want to pick it up the first 300 pages. Not that it isn’t a great story, it is. It’s just that the few happy events were far, far outweighed by all the bad and I knew it was only going to get worse before it got better. It did get better at the very end and the ending was great. I only wish there had been more uplifting parts throughout.