I’m a big fan of Marissa Meyer’s writing style, so I was excited to get into this one. I chose the audiobook for this read because I got impatient waiting for my subscription box copy and the library had it available, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The narrator does Marissa Meyer’s writing style justice and it’s super listenable. In regards to the writing style, GILDED is just as easy to read as Meyer’s other books, but I particularly enjoyed quite how much like a fairytale this felt.
Rating: 4 stars!
Thanks to Faber & Faber for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
Content Warnings: death, grief, captivity, grief (parental), child death, pregnancy, abortion mention, torture.
About the book:
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.
What did I think?
Serilda herself is an absolute delight. Her power is very weird, which makes her particularly interesting as it’s a bit of variety from the powers we usually see in fantasy. I liked that we got to see Serilda uncovering the depths of her power and how it works – I worked some of it out before she did and I enjoyed watching her put the clues together. She’s a brave and strong main character, but what I really liked was that she didn’t start the book a cookie-cutter ready to bake hero. She was not prepared to slay any kind of monster at the start, so we got to see her go through a real conflict as she weighed what she knew was right against what she wanted and what she believed she was capable of.
Another aspect of the book that made Serilda easy to love as a main character was her relationships with the other characters. I’ll get to Gild, but that wasn’t the relationship that made me love Serilda. Instead it was her relationship with the children she helps to teach. It’s so vivid in every interaction how much she adores the children and how much she delights in using her storytelling to bring them joy. Every interaction was so wholesome and sweet that I couldn’t help but love her.
And then there’s Gild. Damn. It’s very rare that I simp for a m/f pairing in a book (I’m just so gay) but if they don’t get a happily ever after in the sequel I might actually scream. Their relationship is definitely slow-burn in my opinion, and that made me adore them. The way that they grow to know each other, trust each other and eventually rely on each other felt so authentic in the way that it developed. It felt absolutely real and I love them.
The worldbuilding in this book is really curious to me. I know the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale but not much of the other monsters/myths included in this book and it definitely had be interested in googling more of them as they were pulled from all kinds of stories.
The ending of GILDED comes out of absolutely fucking nowhere. It ramps up a lot and had me staring open-mouthed for the last few chapters. I still haven’t quite decided if that was a good thing for me or not, and I probably won’t be able to make that decision until I’ve read the sequel. This book is very YA level the whole way through and then the ending has a huge increase in darkness and brutality and I’m not sure how much that was necessary. I’m curious to see if the sequel manages to maintain the fairytale tone with how dark I’m expecting it to be.
Release Date: 2nd November 2021