A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Kids can examine how this book reimagines the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, as well as folklore surrounding the Wild Hunt on a full moon and a number of mythological creatures including hell hounds, Nachzehrer and Nachtkrapp. They can also compare the gods here with the gods of other mythologies.
The importance of a shared, remembered history and what it means to have it taken away. Also, what storytelling and storytellers offer us all. And a "boy who cried wolf" reminder that telling many lies means no one will be believe it when you tell the truth.
Positive Role Models
Serilda's god-given gift for storytelling and lies gets her into trouble but it also keeps her alive and keeps her searching for the truth through story. Even though she's treated like a cursed outcast by most of her village, she's someone who looks past it and cherishes her relationships with children in the village and her father.
Two older women flirt and are encouraged to date by one woman's daughter.
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Violence & Scariness
The death of young children, hearts ripped out by undead creatures, with talk of other children kidnapped and disappearing and getting throats slit. Much talk of parent loss and wonder about if parents are truly gone or can be found. An undead creature gnaws at his own arm and attacks its live family. Gory ghost and undead creature imagery: a hell hound with an arrow shot through its eye, a ghost whose head rolls off its body, a ghost with a tool stuck in eye socket that leaks blood. Magical animals captured with mentions that they are tortured. Story repeated of a massacre and a prince mourning the death of his sister. Stories of mortals swept up in the Wild Hunt and either dying or going mad afterward.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Straight couple over 18 has sex, with little described beyond kissing, some light groping, and undressing. Talk of how villagers often have trysts as young adults before they settle down.
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"Damned" said rarely. "Hell" used to describe hell hounds.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking in a public house and at celebrations by adults.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Gilded is a bold reimagining of the fairy tale "Rumpelstiltskin" from Marissa Meyer, the popular author of the Lunar Chronicles series and Heartless. Expect more gory violence in this story than in Meyer's past books. The main character, Serilda, cavorts with a whole world of the cruel undead led by the Erlking who kidnap young children and rip out their hearts. An undead creature gnaws at his own arm and attacks its live family, a hell hound gets an arrow shot through its eye, a ghost's head rolls off its body, and more. Magical animals are also captured with mentions that they are tortured. There's much talk of parent loss as well, and wonder if parents are truly gone or can be found. Sexual content is slightly more mature in Gilded as well. A straight couple has sex, with little described beyond kissing, some light groping, and undressing. Serilda's god-given gift for storytelling and lies gets her into trouble but it also keeps her alive and keeps her searching for the truth through story. Even though she's treated like a cursed outcast by most of her village, she's someone who looks past it and cherishes her relationship with children in the village and her father.
Is It Any Good?
This deliciously dark retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin" full of ghosts, curses, and gnarly creatures has a surprisingly tender love story at its center. Gilded is author Marissa Meyer's most immersive fairy tale world since she took Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White to the moon and back in her Lunar Chronicles series. Innocent villages butt up against a dangerous enchanted wood, and one town lives in the shadow of castle ruins that spew forth a terrible undead king and his merciless hunting party every full moon. The castle is full of secrets both because its inhabitants are ghosts and because its history is lost. As the story unfolds, this lost history becomes an even stranger curiosity, and perhaps the kind of knowledge that may save the main character's life.
The romance between Serilda and Gild weaves in like a glint of golden thread amidst the sinister stuff, and it's an ingenious turn away from the Brothers Grimm's "Rumpelstiltskin." What if the hunchbacked, warty, ancient magic dude that demanded the cruelest payment imaginable for his spinning services was actually a handsome, stand-up guy? What if he was someone lonely and lost and just as much a victim of the Erlking's cruelty as Serilda is? Can a trapped poltergeist and a storytelling miller's daughter make it work? The greedy Erlking has other ideas, and the dark twists at the end of Gilded will have readers clamoring for Book 2.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.