Book review: Gilded by Marissa Meyer

Review by mass communications student Gabriela Hampsey. Gilded cover art by Tim O’Brien & design by Rich Deas, image found at

Gabriela Hampsey

Marissa Meyer, author of sci-fi retellings of classic fairy tales in the New York Times bestselling series “The Lunar Chronicles,” is often referred to by her fans as the “queen of retellings.” Her newest book, “Gilded,” is a dark fantasy retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin” that also incorporates other German folktales. “Rumpelstiltskin” is a classic tale in which a man claims his daughter can spin straw into gold, and the king overhears and takes her away, locking her in a room with a pile of straw, a spinning wheel, and orders to turn the straw into gold. There, she meets a man who offers to spin the straw into gold for her in exchange for her first born child. “Gilded” is the first of a planned duology, separate from the “The Lunar Chronicles” universe, and was released November 2, 2021. I really enjoyed reading it, however I don’t think the romantic aspect of it is Meyer’s best work.

“Gilded” follows the adventures of Serilda, a girl blessed by the god of lies; she has a remarkable ability for telling tales. On a full moon night when the cruel Erlking and his band of ghostly hunters are riding through her town, Serilda runs into him and lies and says she is collecting straw for spinning into gold. He lets her go free, and all is well, until he returns the next month to whisk her away to his castle and make her prove that she was being truthful. Luckily Serilda meets Gild, a boy who offers assistance for a small price. The more times Serilda is brought back to the castle, the more dark secrets she begins to uncover about it and about the Erlking, the more she is in danger.

From the beginning, “Gilded” had me hooked. Building fictional worlds  is a real strength of Meyer’s. I also loved how the book’s mysteries unfolded through the stories Serilda tells to the other characters, and how her abilities developed as the book progressed. All the characters were likable, but I wish we would have gotten to see more of some of them, since the story focuses mainly on Serilda. I would also advise any readers for whom violence, murder, and death may be triggering topics to be cautious while reading “Gilded.”

One weakness of “Gilded” was how the main romance was written. Serilda’s love interest is Gild. While I have liked the romantic relationships in Meyer’s other works, in  “Gilded” it felt a little rushed. Serilda and Gild almost kiss for the first time within just a few minutes of meeting each other. They did spend more time together later in the book, but I still would have found it more satisfying if we could have seen these two characters get to know each other a little more and watch their relationship develop a bit more slowly.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading “Gilded.” However, I don’t think its main romance is written as well compared to some of Meyer’s other books. I would recommend it to those who like fairy tale retellings and mythology-based stories, as long as your expectations for the romantic aspects of this book are not sky-high.