- Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
- Buy: Gilded
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.
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.
The idea of a retelling of Rumpelstilskin was what drew me to this book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but here we are.
I received the preview of this book from #netgalley and quickly bought the full text to finish.
The story was compelling—so much so that I read all 500 pages in two days. I really enjoyed the characters of Serilda and Gild, and the Erlking is the most detestable villain I’ve encountered in a long time.
I do think the book was about 200 pages too long, especially since it ends on a cliffhanger. There were characters who were unnecessary to the plot—such as a librarian and innkeeper who’s “they should get married bit” felt more like forced inclusivity than the natural romance it should have been. The ideals of the fantasy world were also a bit confusing as it is mentioned that “women should spin and men should hunt and work in the fields,” while it features a woman mayor, women scholars, and even some women warriors in the Erlking’s entourage. Is this world a super progressive medieval Germany or a world all its own?
As a young adult novel, this is an entertaining read that checks all the right boxes for a fantasy/romance, but since I’ve just recently finished a smart fantasy epic written for grown-up, I was not as sold.
Overall, if you want something in the same vein as Throne of Glass or These Hollow Vows, this should be your next read.