I was not planning for this to be my next read, but when it arrived in the mail on Tuesday (courtesy of Renay; THANKS!) I did a happy dance (A and her friend H were looking like they thought I was pretty weird) and immediately began reading it.
It's basically the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, but more organic, less fairy-tale-ish. Charlotte is the daughter of a miller who dies abruptly. She and her sister, Rosie, are the last of the Miller line, and so it's up to Charlotte to run the woolen mill, thereby supporting the town. But, there's a run of bad luck (or is it a curse?) which leads Charlotte and Rosie to enlist the services of one Jack Spinner, who can spin straw into gold (among other things). Unfortunately, life only spins (he he) further out of Charlotte's control from there.
One part fairy-tale, one part ghost story (and an excellent ghost story), one part historical novel, this book -- the first by Elizabeth Bunce -- didn't feel like any other fairy tale book I've ever read before. It took me a while -- 50 pages or so -- to get the rhythm of the book, to understand what Bunce was trying to do with Charlotte (she grated on me at the beginning, but eventually I understood, and liked, her as a character), and to really enjoy what I was reading. But once I got past that point, life got put on hold. It was a very intriguing, engrossing, full tale. I liked the characters, I like the ghost story, I liked the resolution. The only thing that really bugged me was all the names (so many people to keep track of), but that's such a trivial little thing.
I won't say it's worth it's weight in gold... but it is a really good telling of a fairy tale.