Thursday, March 20, 2014

REVIEW: "Rumpled" by Lacey Louwagie

Get ready....this review is packed!  Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom so you don't miss out!!

Gold for a poor girl,
Beauty for a twisted man, 
A child for a powerful sorcerer . . .

Rumpelstiltskin can change anything he touches into gold, but he cannot change his own twisted body. The sorcerer Laurus can make Rumpelstiltskin tall, strong, and handsome—but he will only work his magic in exchange for a child in its first year of life. 

When Emily's deluded father claims she can spin straw into gold, the King demands proof. Caught between a mad father and a mad king, Emily's life hangs in the balance. Rumpelstiltskin offers to help keep up her ruse for three nights—if she promises him her firstborn child.

When the King decides to marry Emily, the pretense must continue for much longer. And what Emily offers Rumpelstiltskin in return for his continued help has the power to change everything.

This retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin" is best suited for ages 14 and up.


Note: for March 19th and 20th, Lacy is offering this at a steep discount on Amazon!!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Lacey Louwagie
Lacey Louwagie has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and fold a few pieces of paper together. Her first book, full of pictures of unicorns, started her on the path of writing science fiction and fantasy. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor, magazine editor, reporter, and librarian. Although she grew up on a farm in Minnesota, she now lives in a tiny house in South Dakota with her husband, two cats, a dog, and hundreds of books.

I was given a copy of the book in return for a thoughtful and honest review.  What follows are my true and honest opinions of this work.

One day, a man regaled me with the story of a bar in Texas he visited where dwarfs donned velcro suits.  There was a velcro wall, and people would pay to throw the dwarfs at a target on the wall.  This man thought it was hilarious.  I cringed.  

People whose bodies are "different" have always been treated as optional, expendable creatures.  My mother has a visible physical disability, and I've seen how she has to work twice as hard to get half the accolades for anything that a "temporarily able-bodied" person gets without trying. 

Many of us have heard the story of Rumplestiltskin - a dwarf who spins straw from hay to spare the life of a miller's daughter....but how many of us have pondered why he demanded her first born child in payment?

I loved this book.  I suppose I should elaborate....

This re-imagining of Rumpelstiltskin forces readers to consider the why behind the what.  Many of us have heard the story of Rumpelstiltskin - a miller lies to the King, saying his daughter can spin gold from straw.  The daughter's life will be forfeit if her inability to do so is found out, but if she manages to do so then she shall become Queen.  A dwarf comes along, saying he can spin the gold, but he demands the woman's first-born child as payment.  The woman agrees, but when time comes for payment tries to rescind the deal, begging the dwarf for her child.  The dwarf says that if the woman figures out his name in 3 days time, he shall forfeit the deal.  A messenger reveals the name to the Queen, who reveals that she knows his name to the dwarf on the 3rd day, saving her child.  Rumpelstiltskin becomes irate and either falls over a cliff, or flies away on a spoon, or rips himself in half.....the ending of the story varies. 

Here we have the same story, and yet Lacey approached it from a different angle, and angle which addressed the niggling question in the back of my mind when I first heard this story as a child: why did Rumpelstiltskin want the child?

Through artful writing and a masterful attention to detail, Lacey spins a golden story that pays attention to who "Rumple" was, what his life as a dwarf in medieval Europe may have looked like, what the life of the miller's daughter may have been like, and most importantly - why Rumpelstiltskin wanted the child.  

Poignant, heartbreaking scenes pepper this book as Rumple and the miller's daughter do their dance.  I held my breath while reading, knowing how the story was "supposed" to end.  Nothing could have prepared me for the ending which nearly made me cry....and you'll have to get the book to figure out why I was on the verge of tears!

On an ascending scale of 1 to 5, I give this book a 5!!

I greatly appreciate any story that looks into the why of anything.  I also greatly appreciate any story that make a concerted effort to cast those with physical difficulties in a positive light.  Hence, I greatly appreciate this book. 

Lacey Louwagie did a wonderful job of delving into the history of Rumpelstiltskin...and the miller's daughter.  Why did he want the child?  Why did he act as he did?  Why was he able to turn straw into gold?  Why did he help the woman in the first place?  Why was the woman willing to give up her firstborn in a deal?  Why didn't the woman just leave the castle?

Rumpelstiltskin is a dwarf.  He has receive rotten looks his entire life, been stared at, beaten for his physical difference by  nearly everyone around him, and told he is nothing short of completely ugly.  He works in the King's court as a jester...perfect place for someone like him in medieval Europe.  At least there he will be fed regularly.  

One day a young woman is brought to the castle.  It has been rumored that she can spin gold from straw, and the greedy king wants to test this claim.  Of course, she cannot....but "Rumple", as she affectionately comes to know Rumpelstiltskin, can.  

This young woman is clever, and comes to the castle with baggage of her own.  She and Rumple form a  close bond, one which becomes rather complicated once she marries the King.  You see, Rumple did turn the straw to gold and did demand her firstborn child.  What happens once she gets pregnant, however, will forever change how you see this age-old story. 

We currently live in the midst of an age where old stories are being retold.  Old stories are framed in new ways to fit modern readers.  Old movies are remade to take advantage of current technological miracles on the screen.  Generally I get annoyed when an old story is remade....but I loved this.

Let's look at writing style - first person narrative from Rumpelstiltskin's point of view.  We see his inner workings on a blunt, emotional, and "rumpled" level.  The story comes alive in a way not seen elsewhere.  It helps that Lacey writes absolutely beautifully.  Scenes flow well into one another.  I never had to stop and backtrack to figure out what has happened, or who said what, and so forth.  

There are some time gaps here, but they are done so well that it isn't a "how'd we get to this time?"  It is a "okay, now the story continues..."  Not sure if I explained that very well....think about movies where you see "five months later" as the scenes fades into something else.  These changes are not abrupt in Rumpled, they are smooth and flow together seamlessly.

While settings are described beautifully, the focus of the story clearly lies with the people.  Lacey spends the vast majority of the writing space here focused on the people, their story and motivations.  We do, after all, know the story....but we don't know the people....until now.

In short, this book is superbly well written in an engaging fashion, and provides background information that makes everyone in the story feel more human.  I love it!

The Bugly (bad/ugly)
The only real thing I have to complain about here is that while the rest of the book flows really well, the story ends a little abruptly.  I want to know what happens for the two weeks following the current ending, make sure some things end as they are supposed to, etc.  I just wanted more!  Maybe a sequel....*hint hint* (although to my knowledge this would be breaking completely new territory with this story, which is scary for any author).

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