I’m back today with a review of Marissa Meyer’s newest book, Gilded! I read an excerpt on Bookish First and was hooked. A friend of mine happened to have an advanced copy he could let me borrow and I could not put this book down. Ironically, I won a copy from Bookish First, and have yet to receive it. So sending all my thanks to my friend Brad (you can check out his Instagram @audioshelfme which he co-hosts with Britney!) for letting me read your copy and allowing me to devour this book!
This is a spoiler free, honest review and all thoughts and feelings are my own.
Gilded by Marissa Meyer
Published: November 2, 2021
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Genre: YA Fantasy Retelling
Marissa Meyer, #1 New York Times-bestselling author, returns to the fairytale world with this haunting retelling of Rumpelstiltskin.
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.
For starters, that synopsis is so spot on. And yet, this book is that and so much more! Words cannot describe the joy and agony I felt reading this book and yet, I’m desperate for more.
Sadly, this was almost a five star read for me. The only issue I had was a section in the middle. This book is over 500 pages long and honestly, it could have been 50-100 pages shorter. In the book there’s are certain sequence of events that repeat and I hated it. I won’t go into any spoilers, but there was one part in the book where almost the exact same thing happened immediately after, just the ending outcome was different. It kind of bugged me that they had to include it repeating just to end up with it honestly not mattering in the book. Personally, I felt like that entire chunk could have been removed. It didn’t really add much to the plot, we’re barely introduced to new characters and honestly the second sequence could have been their introduction. Or, they could have thrown another scene or section in between to break things up. The same thing happening immediately after itself is not my cup of tea.
This is all my opinion of course, but when I was reading it it really irritated me, which is why this book is only 4.5 stars. Maybe in the final draft it’s different or maybe it’s not really noticeable to others, but it definitely bothered me while reading.
Besides that one issue, I loved this book! Serilda is an interesting character and protagonist. She’s definitely not a “good” person, as she is a liar and often times over-imaginative to hers or other peoples detriment, but she’s not an anti-hero or anything like that. She’s perfectly, average. Except for her eyes.
The fact that I forgot this book was a Rumpelstiltskin retelling is honestly impressive. The added folklore and fairytales in this story makes this feel like an entire story book instead of just one retelling. And it really brings the world and the culture in this story alive. The entire story is just so cool and I need the next book! One thing I really liked was how Gild was introduced to us and his interactions with Serilda. It honestly breaks my heart what he goes through in this book and by the ending, I was screaming in anger.
Without spoiling it though, there is another minor thing about this book that I do not like, now that I think about it. It’s a certain trope that irritates the hell out of me but to be fair, it was done way differently than it stereotypically is. I’m not sure how vital this trope is to the story, but bringing it in at the end of book one makes me think that it’s going to be a big focus in book two, which I’m not really excited for. I just hope it’s not the main focus or something brought up repeatedly because I think I would lose my mind lol
In terms of the plot – 10/10. Serilda’s knowledge of folktales and mythology saves her more times than she can count. And the mysteries behind her eyes, her mother, the castle, and everything else surrounding it is so engaging. We’re left with so many unanswered questions I don’t know how I’m going to be able to wait until the next book is released!
I went into this thinking that this book was going to be more along the lines of Lunar Chronicles: younger YA, easily digestible characters and their problems, and more focused on defeating a villain. But Gilded is way more mature, bordering on the lines of YA to NA honestly with the events that take place and the topics this book brings to light. And no, not in a smutty/sexual way. This book is pretty violent and I was not expecting that at all. Even in the Renegades trilogy (I haven’t read the last book so I can’t speak on that) was less violent than this book and the whole series is about superheroes vs. villains!
To wrap things up, Gilded was amazing. It had everything I want in a fairytale retelling and more: a somewhat average girl, an evil villain she must defeat, non-sugar coated stories, “real” life events that would definitely happen in traditional fairy tales, and a possible happily ever after – if we ever get there. This book made me laugh, cringe, cry, and hide behind my hands because I was too nervous to read what happens next. I had such a hard time putting this book down because I needed to know what would happen next! I can’t wait for the next book!
If you like retellings, there are so many options, but if you’re looking for ones similar to Gilded, check out these options below!