Full of magic, stories, and mystery, Gilded by Marissa Meyer enchants its readers with an original twist on the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin, one of the many folktales made popular by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, known as the brothers Grimm. One fateful night, Serilda Moller is caught outside the safety of her bed by the hunt, a group of ghosts led by the Erlking. During the full moon, the hunt captures unlucky citizens and leaves them near the forest, abandoned or dead. She feeds the dreaded Erlking a lie to escape: she can spin straw into gold. Serilda does not expect the Erlking to summon her to his castle every full moon after her lie to spin him gold. Her predicament turns into quite the game of life or death.
Meyer, also the author of bestsellers such as The Lunar Chronicles, Heartless, and Renegades, spins the original fairy tale into a modern fantasy novel. Diving into Gilded was so easy. When I compare it to her recent contemporary novel and superhero series, I can tell that fairy tale retellings is where she truly excels.
There is a focus on storytelling and the creation of stories in this book. The stories that Serilda tells come to have new meaning as the reader learns more about the mysteries she is trying to uncover. As a writer myself, I found it fascinating to see Meyer write about stories with such precision and accuracy, and Serilda describe storytelling with such passion and exuberance.
As in any Marissa Meyer novel, the worldbuilding is exquisite. I felt like I was inside the story when reading; the world she created could easily be a real part of this world. Her descriptions of each setting, their general atmosphere, their history, the small details, and the stories told in the book about each place make them all seem incredibly real. The Erlking’s castle, a whole different experience behind the veil of the full moon, and the forest, full of magical creatures, feel as real to me as the small towns filled with hard-working farmers on their outskirts.
The main characters are likable and complex. Serilda’s passion for stories is unlike any character’s I have seen before. When she tells a story, she is caught up in the story herself, easily enrapturing her audience with her love for what she does. She has such creativity and compassion that help her through many adventures, and when she faces danger, she shows a different side of herself: fierce, determined, brave, and vengeful.
Although the romance (also typical of a Marissa Meyer book) is predictable, the rest of the plot is not. I gasped and held my breath at all the twists and turns the story took as it progressed. As Serilda becomes more and more entangled in the world behind the veil, my only criticism is that she could show more emotion at the losses she experiences throughout the story. The book ends, of course, at the climax of Serilda’s problems, guaranteeing that its readers will pick up the next book in the series, which is titled Cursed and is set to release this fall.
Anyone who loves fairy tales and wants to visit a magical new world will undoubtedly fall in love with this wonderfully enchanting book.