The Gilded Duology by Marissa Meyer {series review}

“I thoroughly enjoyed this series. I finally got around to reading The Lunar Chronicles, and while this was quite different, I enjoyed it just as much.”

Review by AnnaScott Cross

Long ago cursed by the god of lies, a poor miller’s daughter has developed a talent for spinning stories that are fantastical and spellbinding and entirely untrue.

Or so everyone believes.

When one of Serilda’s outlandish tales draws the attention of the sinister Erlking and his undead hunters, she finds herself swept away into a grim world where ghouls and phantoms prowl the earth and hollow-eyed ravens track her every move. The king orders Serilda to complete the impossible task of spinning straw into gold, or be killed for telling falsehoods. In her desperation, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious boy to her aid. He agrees to help her… for a price.

Soon Serilda realizes that there is more than one secret hidden in the castle walls, including an ancient curse that must be broken if she hopes to end the tyranny of the king and his wild hunt forever.

Marissa Meyer, #1 New York Times-bestselling author, returns to the fairytale world with this haunting retelling of Rumpelstiltskin.

Gilded; Book 1

Release Date: 9/2/2021

Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling

Pages: 502

Cursed; Book 2

Release Date: 9/8/2022

Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling

Pages: 485

I thoroughly enjoyed this series. I finally got around to reading The Lunar Chronicles, and while this was quite different, I enjoyed it just as much.

Let’s just start with the retelling component. While I am not a huge fan of Rumplestiltskin, I loved how Meyer adapted the story. It kept all of the key components, while still creating a brand new and completely original plot. I will say that I was not as convinced until the last 25% or so of the second book, and then all the puzzle pieces fit together and it was perfection.

The world building was very well done. It was a good bit darker than The Lunar Chronicles, including things like demons and ghosts, but it was all on-brand with fantasy and never ventured toward gothic/horror.

One component that I really loved was the relationship between Serilda and Gild. So often in YA the relationships are so emotional and illogical and often toxic, but they loved each other in the purest of ways. They were friends as much as lovers and there were several occasions where their first impulse was to sacrifice themself to save the other, and I think these are the relationship role models we need from literature.

I don’t have any complaints. The only reason I gave the books four stars is that it was just an emotionally heavy book and so I was distressed on behalf of the characters. There was one point where, if the book had ended without resolution, I would have never forgiven Meyer for treating her characters like that. So while there is a happy ending, it is not what you expect, and getting there is quite the ride.

Overall, I enjoyed this duology, and would definitely recommend it for fans of fairy tale retellings!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Ratings:

Action & Gore:

Rating: 3 out of 10.
3. Mild action (common injuries with some details).

Romance & Spice:

Rating: 4 out of 10.
4. A bit more moderate content (fade-to-black s*x/no on-page s*x).

Cursing & Vulgarity:

Rating: 6 out of 10.
6. Strong cursing (mild cursing paired with 3-10 strong words). 

Other Trigger Warnings:

Content warning: There is one scene where a couple sleeps together. However, it plays a key role in the plot, and it does fade-to-black after minimal descriptions of them making out. In addition, two of the minor characters are lesbians.

Our Reviews of Other Books by this author:

One comment

  1. This book is on my TBR shelf begging to be read, and after reading this review I think it may be screaming to be read haha

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