Gilded by Marissa Meyer

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I am a fan of retellings of fairy tales and Gilded, although 500 pages long, kept me engrossed until the end, and left me wishing that its sequel was available. Serilda is a poor miller’s daughter known for telling incredible stories. When she encounters the evil Erlking on his wild hunt she makes up a story about being able to spin straw into gold and her lies lead her into trouble. The Erlking takes her to his castle and commands her to make the gold. In desperation Serilda summons a boy named Gild to help her and gradually she uncovers some of the secrets of the castle.

This retelling of Rumpelstiltskin is dark and has all the trappings of fairy tales: high towers, fairies, a cruel hunt, dungeons and wraiths. Meyer keeps the story moving along at an engrossing pace while ensuring that the characters that she peoples Gilded with are easy to relate to. The young children that Serilda tells stories to are particularly relatable, and the reader is left wondering about Serilda’s mother and her disappearance. Serilda is clever and innovative, using her skill as a storyteller to get her out of trouble. Gild as befits a ghost like figure is less clearly drawn and has the reader asking questions about his origins and abilities and the ancient curse that has been put upon him.

The unexpected twists and turns, some heart-breaking moments and secrets that are gradually revealed, all will keep the reader engrossed until the cliff-hanger ending that will ensure that the sequel is picked up. Detailed teacher’s notes are available.

Themes: Fairy tale retellings, Fantasy, Evil.

Pat Pledger