Book review: Gilded by Marissa Meyer

Published November 2nd 2021 by Feiwel & Friends


Long ago cursed by the god of lies, a poor miller’s daughter has developed a talent for spinning stories that are fantastical and spellbinding and entirely untrue.

Or so everyone believes.

When one of Serilda’s outlandish tales draws the attention of the sinister Erlking and his undead hunters, she finds herself swept away into a grim world where ghouls and phantoms prowl the earth and hollow-eyed ravens track her every move. The king orders Serilda to complete the impossible task of spinning straw into gold, or be killed for telling falsehoods. In her desperation, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious boy to her aid. He agrees to help her… for a price. Love isn’t meant to be part of the bargain.

Soon Serilda realizes that there is more than one secret hidden in the castle walls, including an ancient curse that must be broken if she hopes to end the tyranny of the king and his wild hunt forever.

Marissa Meyer, #1 New York Times-bestselling author, returns to the fairytale world with this haunting retelling of Rumpelstiltskin.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I didn’t have any expectations when I dived into Gilded. Surely I was intrigued by the premise and I heard Marissa Meyer knows how to write a solid retelling. My main point of interest was a dark and haunting retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Gilded sounded like there might be a good twist on the classic story.

And I wasn’t wrong. The story delivered a mix of fairy tales, quite a brutal one with gore, blood, deaths of children, and so on. Gilded is more of a Brothers Grimm kind of story with rarely – if ever – a ray of sunshine to lighten the story. Be prepared that every step of the story is a tragedy. Even when we expect things to go upward they go down and continue like that until the very end. But somehow the brutality fits the storytelling perfectly. I can’t imagine Gilded as a nice bedtime story where a prince avengers his little sister’s death and the villain is punished accordingly. No, the story where all sides involved are destined to suffer until the end of time is more fitting in this case.

But all dark stuff aside, what really drove me in and kept me going throughout the book is the storytelling. A story inside a story is my favorite device in fantasy. I adore when we are told a fairy tale and we are trying to guess if it’s true or not, meanwhile the main story also unravels itself. Aw, delicious! Gilded is definitely my kind of storytelling and I couldn’t put the book down despite its massive size. To be honest I was intimidated by the number of pages at first but the storytelling flowed so flawlessly I couldn’t come up with a reason the story should’ve been shorter. And knowing that there’s going to be a sequel, I can confirm that 500 pages are not nearly enough for this dark and haunting fairytale.

And this leads me to the major issue I had with the story and the reason I didn’t give it 4 stars. The ending. It’s messy. I am not sure I approve of all devices the author uses to move the plot at the end. I feel like the story turns too melodramatic at the end? But I can’t say how it will impact the sequel. Maybe my concerns are for naught and book two will sweep me off my feet. I honestly have no idea what to expect. And I suppose it is a part of the charm when you want to read a story but have no idea how it will evolve in the future. Well, my only option is to wait and to see for myself!

Overall, if you are into dark and blood-chilling retellings, Gilded is definitely going to deliver the best vibes there are. But keep in mind that the story is quite unpredictable at times and you never know if the satisfaction level would match your expectations. But I know for sure that Marissa Meyer definitely deserves your attention.

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