Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: The Crimson Thread (A Retelling of 'Rumpelstiltskin')

The Crimson Thread (The Fairytale Campaign: Book 1)

Author: Suzanne Weyn


The year is 1880, and Bertie, having just arrived in New York with her family, is grateful to be given work as a seamstress in the home of textile tycoon J. P. Wellington. When the Wellington family fortune is threatened, Bertie's father boasts that Bertie will save the business, that she is so skillful she can "practically spin straw into gold."
Amazingly, in the course of one night, Bertie creates exquisite evening gowns — with the help of Ray Stalls, a man from her tenement who uses an old spinning wheel to create dresses that are woven with crimson thread and look as though they are spun with real gold. Indebted to Ray, Bertie asks how she can repay him. When Ray asks for her firstborn child, Bertie agrees, never dreaming that he is serious....

Published 27 October 2009


This was the first book I read in the Once Upon A Time series, and it sure was a good novel for the uninitiated!

The Crimson Thread is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, but it's refreshing. What's so surprising about this retelling is that it takes place in Early America. How original is that?

And now, brace yourself for the biggest surprise!

Our heroine, Bertie, actually rides off into the sunset with Mr. Rumpelstiltskin-- Ray. It's a wonderful romance, everything so perfectly weaved together all the way till the end.

This is a good enough fairytale with more details than the classic tale. There's a rich young man, heir to the Wellington fortune, who flirts with Bertie and they are engaged because of her ability to "spin straw into gold". But, what can I say about spoilt wealthy heirs and servant girls? The wealthy heirs never mean it.

As J.P. Wellington, master of the business, orders Bertie to do another dress, she is stuck in a situation of her own making since she didn't deny her father's boast and was too delighted by the attention. At this point of time, Ray appears once again to help her. However, this time, Bertie has nothing left to give him and we hear the classic line of: "Give me your firstborn child, then."

I won't disclose the ending because there is an awfully amazing twist at the end.

One thing for sure, The Crimson Thread is a rather thought-provoking fairytale with mentions of prejudice to the Irish immigrants, slums, workers' strikes and the like. However, Bertie and Ray's relationship are quite simple and left unexplained towards the end, but isn't this what all fairytales have to work on? 

This must be the best retelling of Rumpelstiltskin I've ever read!

Source: Library



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