(Arthur A. Levine, Hardcover)
Charlotte Miller and her sister Rosie are orphaned and suddenly in charge of running their family’s mill. Desperate to save the mill from being turned over to the bank or from being bought out by the competition, Charlotte and Rosie enlist the help of the mysterious Jack Spinner. The first time Jack visits them, he spins gold from straw in exchange of a pearl ring – a ring that is the only link between Charlotte and her mother. The gold thread allows Charlotte to pay off some of the debt owed to the bank. But the mill is still in debt, so Jack Spinner visits twice more. The last time, he asks for Charlotte’s newborn son as payment. Charlotte must find a way to lift the curse on her mill and banish Jack Spinner for good before he can take her son.
I’d heard so many good things about this novel so I think I was expecting too much. It started off extremely slow as we learned over and over again just how much Charlotte was in debt and just how cursed the mill was. I kept reading because I was sure that it would get better. It did get better and I started to enjoy it more about halfway through. However, I never really felt close to Charlotte. She was desperate to save the mill but it seemed as if she didn’t appreciate her sister or her husband very much. The setting was described very vividly and I could easily picture the mill. In comparison, the characters seemed less developed. Charlotte has an uncle who proves to be evil. This is hinted at throughout but I never did feel like the uncle really added much to the story. It seemed as if his character could easily have been left out, thus allowing other characters to get more face time. If you like fairy tale retellings, this is worth the read. I would classify it as a somewhat feminist take on Rumpelstiltskin – interesting if, like me, you enjoy strong female main characters.