Review of Gilded

Gilded Gilded
by Marissa Meyer
High School    Feiwel    512 pp.    g
11/21    978-1-250-61884-9    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-250-61883-2    $10.99

Every full moon, the demon Erlking and his ­hunters and hellhounds roam freely, claiming the souls of humans and killing magical creatures for sport. On one such night, eighteen-year-old miller’s daughter Serilda saves two of the Erlking’s potential victims and convinces the demon that she has been “god-blessed” with the gift of spinning straw into gold. (Actually, she has the gift of telling stories, which she does throughout the book, eventually unraveling one of its central ­mysteries.) During the next several full moons, the Erlking forces her to spin gold for him at his castle, where an enigmatic boy named Gild helps her by turning the straw into gold—for a price. This “Rumpelstiltskin” reimagining is rich in worldbuilding, including German-influenced settings and names; relatable heroine Serilda and the cast of supporting characters are equally well drawn. It’s an engrossing (if somewhat overlong) tale of curses, unlikely romance, and family loss revolving around the art of storytelling and its mix of truths and lies. Known for her fairy-tale retellings (Cinder, rev. 1/12, and sequels), Meyer here weaves a significantly grimmer, more violent story—including the murders of several children, the descriptions of which are heartrending and gruesome. However, thanks to the book’s tantalizingly open ending, readers are left with hope for justice in the duology’s promised ­conclusion.

From the March/April 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University. She served on the 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee.

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