A Curse Dark as Gold

by Elizabeth C. Bunce
400 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by Kristi

Good read with a lot of occult content.


This book is a take on the tale of Rumpelstiltskin. When Charlotte Miller's father dies, she is left with the task of running the mill that supports the entire town of Shearing. But things start to go wrong as she faces unexpected debt, vandalism, blacklisting, and her grasping uncle. Is there truly a curse on the Miller family, or on the mill? And who is the mysterious and powerful Jack Spinner who seems to appear from nowhere with the answer to her problems?


Charlotte and her sister Rosie begin with the best of intentions, and mostly keep to positive behavior, but eventually they are drawn to summon help from a spirit. Charlotte lies to her husband a few times, and the girls generally lie about the origins of anything related to Jack Spinner. Charlotte's husband, one of the more winning characters in the book, nevertheless leaves her and their infant son when he realizes she won't share any of her secrets with him. And I don't think much of Charlotte's indecision later in the book. Given a creature threatening to take my child or my mill, I'd give him the mill and let the townspeople get other jobs, not ask for time to decide!

Spiritual Content

It starts subtly, but there are a lot of occult elements in this book, many dealing with wards against evil and old superstitions. There are hex symbols, magic circles, black candles, the laying of a curse, and the summoning of a spirit of the dead, among other things.


Death by drowning, burning, and hanging are all present, as well as the threatening of a child.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Some wine and the uncle may get drunk.

Sexual Content

A few sweet kisses, plus Charlotte's observation that she and her husband missed breakfast and lunch the first day of their honeymoon, and she now understands why so many young brides have their first child nine months after the wedding.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

"B-st-rd" is used to describe an illegitimate child.


It was an engrossing story, well-told, and the romance aspect was very sweet. The mystery was very good, as the clues kept me guessing all the way through. I'd certainly keep an eye out for something else by this author, but I'd probably read the reviews and flip through a few pages first next time, to check on the presence of any more occult content and the overall tone. I don't think it's an appropriate book for children, and I admit that elements of it were a bit too dark for me personally as well.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 3.5
Written for Age: adult

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