Publisher: Annie Louise Twitchell
Expected Pub. Date: 14 May 2017
Genre: Modern Fantasy, Romance YA
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars
I received this electronic Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. Further disclosure: I received this from the author through a teen writers’ group that I follow, but we only interacted when she announced in the group that her book was getting published. My review is not affected by these facts.
In this retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, an abused miller’s daughter is sold to the king for her alleged ability to spin straw into gold. She is to be married to the prince if her gold-making skills are proven to be true. In the process, she starts to fall in love with prince and tries to work out how she will accomplish the impossible task of making straw into gold. Spinner of Secrets by Annie Twitchell is an underdeveloped novella, providing another look at Rumpelstiltskin.
This book fell short, and I see areas where it could have been improved. There were plenty of moments within each chapter where it would have been better to be in scene than just summary. As it stands, there was too much summary and not enough believable character development.
None of the born nobility are developed. Kyle tries to have some defiance of his father, but he is still dealing with the death of his previous bride. For trying to avenge a murdered lover, he does not seem mournful of her loss or uncomfortable marrying another girl.
Growing up under the hand of a cruel stepfather, Letta is forced to labor over men’s work. She has learned to do what he expects of her. Throughout the novella, she focuses on truths and lies because of the meaning of her name. It haunts her a lot, but she has few secrets, despite the title of the book. Letta likes sleeping in the kitchens and prefers to eat with the servants as equals while otherwise not proving she prefers this. She whines and cries so much that everyone, including herself, says that she is being childish. The withdrawal and crying is usually without reason.
The romance was not believable. Letta instantly falls in love with the prince. I understand Letta wanting to love the man she is marrying, but he becomes less and less lovable as he treats her horribly and constantly mocks her for not understanding royal ettiquette. Kyle tells her at one point that she is his equal due to the marriage, but then he spends the rest of the book ordering her around. He also gets physical when he is angry. Very romantic. There’s also a lot of waist grabbing and carrying of the girl.
This is a fantasy novella, but the book was not believable. She can learn all that a princess needs to know, including reading, in the space of one month. I do not believe that a queen or prince would have any control over a king regent. Another problem I have is a king deciding to sell his spun gold. Not that selling the gold would not happen, but I would expect a kingdom to hoard gold as much as possible, even if it is in debt. Apparently, nobility can easily divorce in this kingdom. My conception of kingdoms is that it would be very difficult or impossible to divorce. Perhaps this comment comes from a more historical basis. Even so, this should have fallen under world building.
The ending was too coincidental. Too many things wrap up easily, and it is annoying.
The Gypsies are the villains, and I hate that. I believe that a kingdom would try to eliminate a group of people within its borders, but I do not care for how this becomes a portrayal of all Gypsies being bad. A level of stupidity was created by giving them a dialect that uses poor grammar. Twitchell attempted to show them in an alternate light with a little gathering that Letta dropped in on, but it resulted in painting the entire group as malicious villains who want to steal babies.
I do not recommend Spinner of Secrets because of its underdevelopment, lack of believability and its bigoted portrayal of gypsies/travelers.