Book Review: GILDED by Marissa Meyer

Title in white on blurred golden dripping crown on black
Genre: Fantasy Retelling
Age Range: YA
Star Rating:
Series: yes - first book of duology


Book cover for GILDED: title in gold on blue beneath a gold cage dripping from a crown

All magic comes at a price, but love was never part of the bargain . . .

Cursed by the god of lies, a miller’s daughter has developed a talent for storytelling – but are all of her tales as false as they appear?

When one of Serilda’s stories draws the attention of the devastating Erlking, she finds herself swept away into a world of enchantment, where ghouls prowl the earth, and ravens track her every move. The king locks Serilda in a castle dungeon and orders her to spin straw into gold, or be killed for lying.

In despair, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious young man to her aid. And he agrees to help her, for a price. But love wasn’t meant to be part of the bargain.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


GILDED is Marissa Meyer’s return to fairy tales after her debut series the Lunar Chronicles. Having been a bit let down by her most recent series, I was looking forward to something more in line with her debut, which I loved. However, this book didn’t quite hit the right notes for me. The difficult thing is I can’t quite pin point the exact reason why.

As Rumpelstiltskin retellings go, I really liked that Serilda is able to leave the castle and the Erlking between her various tasks. We could see more of the outside world and the effects of the Hunt. Plus it allows for more time with the Hunt hunting as they come for her again. That second time they were actually pretty intimidating (the king seemed to diminish inside the castle.)

I did read it quite fast, but that was because I did have a big block of time. The story was not particularly engrossing that I had to know what happened next, nor was so complex that I needed to slow down. It’s one of those stories I floated through pretty indifferent (though the prose style did niggle at me at times, which was something I didn’t expect. There were phrases that just jumped out as awkward or overstating things.)

I think that one of the main reasons I never really invested in this book was that things just seemed to happen to Serilda without her having to work for them or earn them. She cries and then the boy with the magic she needs just happens to turn up. She just happens to be in the right place to get taken to see people who can confirm pieces of the puzzle. The person she’s disliked (and who’s been mean to her) just happens to be a witch totally willing to help her (in a complete character reversal.)

The romance was a bit unbelievable. They had two encounters, where she tells him stories and he spins straw into gold in exchange for trinkets, and she’s thinking about kissing him from interaction one. And then they’re full on snogging at the end of interaction two? Then interaction three goes full on sex? (Not explicitly written, but there’s no doubt what happened.) If it was written as lust, I’d believe it, but love?

I did not realise this was a duology until I had pulled up the Goodreads page to copy across the synopsis. For some reason, I’d thought it was standalone. However, that ending is very much not a standalone ending, and I am interested to see how she gets out of the predicament. There are some hints laid that it’ll be one of those twisty bargains being used to trap the Erlking.

Read my reviews of other books by Marissa Meyer:


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