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The Legacy of Androva Series

Five Fairy Tales: Rumpelstiltskin 💰

“The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.”
― W.H. Auden

Fairy tales have been around for a very long time—long before literary documents were even a thing. That they survived for thousands of years until finally being written down is evidence of their enduring appeal.

The very first fairy tale, The Smith and the Devil, can apparently be traced back all the way to the Bronze Age. It’s about a metalsmith who sells his soul to an evil being in exchange for a supernatural power of some kind. The story ends happily for the metalsmith when he uses his new power to cheat the evil being and keep his soul. 

Which brings me onto the subject of today’s blog post—YA fairy tale retellings. After previous posts on Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel, this time it’s the turn of Rumpelstiltskin. I chose Rumpelstiltskin because just like The Smith and the Devil, it involves a high-stakes contract for magical gain, and I love the idea that the first fairy tale might have inspired other stories ☺. 

Rumpelstiltskin begins with a boastful miller telling anyone who will listen that his daughter can spin straw into gold. This extraordinary claim catches the interest of the king. The king locks the daughter in a roomful of straw and gives her an ultimatum. She has until morning to spin the straw into gold. If she fails, she’ll be executed.

Cue the arrival of Rumpelstiltskin. Spinning straw into gold turns out to be his thing, and the daughter gives him her ring in exchange for his help. The next night, she gives him her necklace. The night after that, there’s a twist. The king promises to marry her if she successfully creates a third roomful of gold. Unfortunately, she’s all out of jewelry, so Rumpelstiltskin suggests he take her firstborn child instead. The daughter accepts the deal. Given that the alternative is certain death, what else can she do? 

Time passes. She marries the king, and they have a child. Unfortunately for the new queen, Rumpelstiltskin returns to collect what he’s owed. She begs him to reconsider, offering him money instead, but he refuses. After all, he doesn’t need money. He can make his own gold whenever he likes.

Eventually, he agrees to let her out of the deal if she can guess his name, and he gives her three days. She tries her best, but none of her many guesses are correct. Her time is almost up when, in desperation, she searches the woods for clues about his identity and chances upon Rumpelstiltskin’s cottage. He’s outside, dancing around a fire and singing a gleeful song about taking the queen’s baby. This song isn’t as upsetting for the queen as you might think because Rumpelstiltskin reveals his name in the lyrics!

On the third night, the queen makes a show of continuing to guess incorrectly before finally using Rumpelstiltskin’s name. Enraged at losing his prize, he stamps his foot, pushing it so far into the ground that he tears himself in half when he tries to pull it out. And so the end of the story is also the end of Rumpelstiltskin.

When I started researching Rumpelstiltskin retellings, I was really looking forward to finding out how the original fairy tale had been used as inspiration. Unlike some other fairy tales, Rumpelstiltskin isn’t heavy on the romance, and several of the characters are presented in an unlikeable way. It leaves a lot of room for interpretation. In the end, it was a challenge to keep to only five books! I hope you find my choices interesting, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today 💕.

Gold Spun, by Brandie June

If Nor can’t spin gold, she can always spin lies.

When seventeen-year-old Nor rescues a captured faerie in the woods, he gifts her with a magical golden thread she can use to summon him for a favor. Instead, Nor uses it for a con—to convince villagers to buy straw that can be transformed into gold. Her trick works a little too well, attracting the suspicion of Prince Casper, who hates nobody more than a liar. Intent on punishing Nor, he demands that she spin a room of straw into gold and as her reward, he will marry her. Should she refuse or fail, the consequences will be dire.
Desperate for help, Nor summons the faerie’s aid, launching a complicated dance as she must navigate between her growing feelings for both the prince and faerie boy and who she herself wishes to become.

“But aren’t the most dangerous creatures the beautiful ones?”
“They usually are.” He looked like he wanted to say more but decided against it.
“This won’t come off.” The thread was so thin, I couldn’t understand why I was unable to yank it off my wrist. I bit it, but it held fast.
“Ah, gold you have, but can never spend.” He smiled and winked. “Elenora Molnár, you should know that all faerie magic comes at a price. Consider yourself lucky that the trick I played on you was so small.”

My Unfair Godmother, by Janette Rallison

Be careful what you wish for—at least when your fairy godmother is in training.

Tansy Miller has always felt that her divorced father never has enough time for her. But mistakenly getting caught on the wrong side of the law wasn't exactly how she wanted to get his attention. That trip to prison was really not her best moment.
Enter Chrysanthemum "Chrissy" Everstar, Tansy's all-too-teenage fairy godmother. Chrissy is still training, so Tansy's three wishes don't exactly go according to plan. And if mistakenly bringing Robin Hood to the twenty-first century isn't bad enough, being transported back to the Middle Ages to deal with Rumpelstiltskin certainly is. That fairy tale is so much creepier when it’s happening to you.
Tansy will need the help of her blended family, her wits, and especially the cute police chief's son to stop the gold-spinning story from spinning wildly out of control.

Mortals are always going on about how important family is to them. They even believe it’s true. When Tansy Miller was seven, her father used to tell her he wouldn’t trade her for a mountain of gold. Of course, she should have been suspicious of this claim, since it was hard to prove. Very few gold-mountain owners are interested in bartering for little girls. But still, Tansy believed him.

The Crimson Thread, by Suzanne Weyn

"Once upon a Time" is timeless.

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…

He grabbed her by the elbow and pulled her close. “Then give me my payment now. Kiss me, and that will prove to you how much you love me.”
She yanked away. “No! I will pay you anything else, but you can’t make me feel what I do not feel! What else shall I pay you to make things square between us? Name your price, but it will not be me!”
He laughed bitterly, scornfully. “I don’t know. Why don’t I take your firstborn child?”

Small Favors, by Erin A. Craig

In Amity Falls, nothing is more dangerous than a wish come true.

Ellerie Downing is waiting for something to happen. Life in isolated Amity Falls, surrounded by an impenetrable forest, has a predictable sameness. Her days are filled with tending to her family's beehives, chasing after her sisters, and dreaming of bigger things while her twin, Samuel, is free to roam as he wishes.
Early town settlers fought off monstrous creatures in the woods, and whispers that the creatures still exist keep the Downings and their neighbors from venturing too far. When some townsfolk go missing on a trip to fetch supplies, a heavy unease settles over the Falls.
Strange activities begin to plague the town, and as the seasons change, it's clear that something is terribly wrong. The creatures are real, and they're offering to fulfill the residents' deepest desires, however grand, for just a small favor. These seemingly trifling demands, however, hide sinister intentions. Soon Ellerie finds herself in a race against time to stop Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves from going up in flames.

“But it would be nice to be able to call you something—anything, really,” I persisted. The seconds ticked by unfilled. “You’re truly not going to tell me?”
“No,” he laughed. “I’m really not. There’s a power in names, don’t you think? Once your name is given away, you can’t help but be pulled along by those who have it.”

Gilded, by Marissa Meyer

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.

The golden spokes radiating across her gaze made most people uncomfortable. She had sometimes wondered if the god chose to mark her irises because you’re not supposed to be able to look someone in the eye when you’re lying to them. But Serilda had never had any trouble holding someone’s gaze, whether she was lying or not. It was everyone else in this town who struggled to hold hers. 
Except the children.

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