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~*~Don't forget to check out today's guest post from Eileen Cruz Coleman, which reveals a bit about Book 2 in the Cursed Tales series!
Last year for Fairy Tale Fortnight, I read my first Rumpelstiltskin novel, A CURSE DARK AS GOLD by Elizabeth C. Bunce. This year, I read my second version of the tale, RUMPEL by Eileen Cruz Coleman. I knew the tale of Rumpelstiltskin as well as anyone else growing up, but it was never my favorite tale. I've grown to love Rumpelstiltskin a lot more this past year with the premiere of ONCE UPON A TIME on ABC, where Rumpelstiltskin is easily my favorite character of the bunch. My interest renewed, I was eager to see Coleman's take on the tale, and found myself reading the back story of what motivated Rumpelstiltskin.
RUMPEL is told through multiple POVs. While this can be confusing, once a reader figures out who's who and discerns the way everyone's path correlates to one another, it enhances knowledge of all the characters. Rumpelstiltskin couldn't always spin straw into gold, nor did he always want Elizabeth Miller's baby. Through his POV, we see the way his life shaped him, the way his desire for vengeance led him down the road he took. Elizabeth Miller's tale has an equally sad plight. She loses her mother early on and falls into a forbidden relationship with the Crown Prince of Rodavlas. Her father, in debt and still mourning the death of his wife, makes a bad bargain that brings everyone's lives colliding together.
Coleman also weaves in the story of the Kingdom of Niaps, which will be featured in the second book of her Cursed Tales series. The people of Niaps are unique in that they must ingest gold in order to survive. When their spinning wheel is stolen, they slowly begin to starve to death and desperately want to retrieve it. The kingdoms of Niaps and Rodavlas collide and form a path to the next novel, though the second edition of RUMPEL is a stand-alone with no cliffhanger ending.
I really enjoyed seeing the motivations of all the major characters from the original tale, as well as new ones. At times, there were perhaps too many characters to keep track of, but the multiple POVs also allowed more insight and a fuller story. While there was a little more tell than show at times when revealing various things that slowed the story down, Coleman's world was intriguing with a lot to think about. I loved how unique the Kingdom of Niaps was and emphasized with how low some characters had to sink as the result of previous decisions. There's a lot of gray in this story; nothing is black or white. Everyone thinks s/he is right, when the truth is, no one ever fully is. I liked seeing both sides to the story and am looking forward to another novel that features the Kingdom of Niaps.