Never fear, there are no spoilers here!
*There is a trigger warning after the final image at the bottom of this post.*
Brandie June’s debut novel, Gold Spun, is a whirlwind of a read. This utterly enchanting novel swept me away to a world unlike anything I’ve ever imagined, with incredibly well developed characters in a fast paced and engaging plot.
Orphaned Nor is a con artist and thief who has been toiling in the harsh post-war world with her three brothers, her only remaining family after losing their parents, home, and family mill in the war. After two chance encounters in the forest could provide long-term for her small, fractured family, she sets out to make the gold last even longer. When the Prince himself happens upon her con and calls her on it publicly, Nor is put in the terrible position of having to make magic in a world where magic is vilified and dangerous. If she fails, she and her brothers are in terrible danger. But if she succeeds, she has to keep up the lie and pretense for life. Which danger is greater- the one you face head on, or the one you’re constantly running from?
This fresh take on the classic Grimm’s tale Rumpelstiltskin begins with incredible world building, setting the stage for an epic saga. The world is well-laid out and vividly described, yet completely accessible and easily comprehensible. It’s full of intricate descriptions and imagery that bring the world to life in your mind; it’s the kind of environment that could easily translate to film or a television series.
Gold Spun boasts an incredibly well developed cast of characters; even minor characters have their own arc. Each character is so deeply developed they feel real. Though the cast is large, I had no trouble keeping track of who was friend and who was foe. Each character is unique and presented in such a way that they make an imprint on your mind, making it easy to keep track of them. All three primary characters are relatable yet flawed, the kind you can’t help but love even as they struggle through murky moral waters.
The engaging and quickly paced plot makes this novel difficult to put down. A world where magic is dangerous for how mysterious it is, a love triangle, enemies to lovers, finding nuance and depth in what were thought to be shallow waters– all of these traits combine to create an impossible to put down book that leaves you wanting to spend even more time in their world. Beautiful foreshadowing is seamlessly interwoven in the plot, raising the stakes — and reader’s heart rate– simultaneously.
This novel centers on a character who was unnamed in the original fairy tale, and not only gives her a name, but gives her a voice and agency within her own story. Gold Spun‘s Nor is fierce, courageous, clever, and has a big heart she often hides. It’s thrilling to see such a powerful woman work to overcome two very different (but equally dangerous) worlds.
Gold Spun gave me Beauty and the Beast vibes, with its prevalence of gold imagery, roses, and a fierce protagonist trying to protect her remaining family. If you loved Ella Enchanted as a kid, you’re sure to like this grown-up fresh take on a fairy tale.
I tend to lean towards magical realism, and as a result don’t read loads of fantasy. However, even as someone who only dips their toe in the fantasy waters, I can tell this novel is outstanding. The world is so beautifully laid out yet it’s easily understandable. The characters and the situations they get themselves into are thought provoking, and I recommend it for fantasy fans and those who, like me, may have found themselves hesitant to dive into fantasy books in the past.
Thank you to Brandie June, CamCat Publishing, and Wunderkind PR for providing me with a copy of Gold Spun such that I could write this honest review.
Gold Spun by Brandie June is now available. Stay tuned to this page for an upcoming author interview!
I can highly recommend reading this one while wearing a dress that matches the cover and cuddling with an adorable dog!
There are scenes of violence, battles, and war imagery in this novel.