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A Curse Dark As Gold, a 2010 novel by Elizabeth Bunce, tells the story of Charlotte Miller, who has just inherited her family's beloved woolen mill after the death of her father. However, when the infamous "Miller Luck" threatens to close the mill, Charlotte must turn to more unconventional means to keep her business (and the town that relies on it) up and running.


A Curse Dark As Gold contains examples of:

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  • Arcadia: The Golden Valley has a quaint, simple charm that evokes this. At least at first.
  • Bastard Bastard: Uncle Wheeler
  • The City vs. the Country: There is a distinct cultural divide between Charlotte and those from her hometown, and her uncle and those from Harrigate (the closest city).
  • Curse: The titular curse, having to do with the fact that no Miller owning the mill has ever raised a son to adulthood.
  • Curse Escape Clause: Charlotte is desperate to find one.
  • Deal with the Devil: Jack Spinner can get you pretty much anything you want, but his prices are steep and unconventional.
  • Death by Childbirth: Charlotte's mother. It's implied she fears this for herself.
  • Death of a Child: No Miller has ever raised a son to adulthood, though many have been born. Charlotte herself lost her mother and a little brother to childbirth.
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  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Charlotte and Rosie remember their father fondly, flighty as he was, and miss their mother.
  • Evil Uncle: Doesn't appear outright evil, but is certainly sexist, patronizing, and constantly pressuring Charlotte to sell the mill. Later revealed to have been paying Bill Penny to sabotage the mill so Charlotte would be forced to sell.
  • The Fair Folk: "Jack Spinner," who can spin straw into gold, re-weave ruined wool into perfect cloth, and knew some of the mill's historical owners personally. Subverted - though he (possibly intentionally, and certainly on a meta level) embodies many of the traditional characteristics, he is actually a vengeful ghost.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Rosie and Charlotte, respectively. Rosie is more idealistic and flighty, and believes in many of the local superstitions. Rose is the one to first summon Jack Spinner, while Charlotte is unfailingly practical and thinks the superstitious nature of her neighbors is ridiculous.
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  • Fourth Date Marriage: Charlotte and Randall Woodstone only meet a few times before he asks her to marry him.
  • Genius Loci: Stirwaters is said to have "moods." In particular, it seems to dislike anyone trying to fix it up or update it, and any attempts are usually met with baffling No-Sell incidents (such as a sigil on the wall always bleeding through layers of paint meant to cover it) or accidents that make the task impossible.
  • Good Old Ways: Charlotte's home town is rather quaint and old-fashioned, but filled with caring people. This is contrasted with the impersonal (bordering on cruel) ways of most people in or from the city.
  • Historical Fantasy: Set in a late-18th or possibly early-19th century wool mill, deeply invested in the industry and economy of milling wool... and suffering from problems with The Fair Folk and curses.
  • Insists on Paying: Charlotte refuses to ask her wealthy uncle or, later, her husband for the money to pay off her father's debt to save the mill.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: The novel opens on the grim, rainy day of Charlotte's father's funeral.
  • Liminal Time: Charlotte really begins to feel a sense of urgency about figuring out the curse when she becomes pregnant.
  • Meaningful Name: Many characters have names relating to their professions (for example: the Millers own the mill, Mr. Graves is the undertaker, etc.). Justified in that it was common practice to name a family after their profession, and the town is rural enough that many people just grow up into the family business.
    Harlan Miller: Your very name condemns you! For what is a "Simple" but a spell?
    Someone in the crowd: Aye! Wheeler makes wheels, and Miller runs the mill. What does your name mean, then?
  • Rumpelstiltskin: A re-imagining of the original tale.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The little Penny girl, the first drowning the river has seen in centuries.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Bill Penny
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Not all of the mill's history made it into the ledger books...
  • Twice-Told Tale: Of Rumpelstiltskin.

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