Anticipation is hard on a book. You wait and wait for publication, your impatience builds, and inevitably, you're more excited when the postman arrives than when the final page is turned. Anticipation considered, A Curse Dark as Gold held up pretty well.
Charlotte Miller is the last of a long line of Millers who have poured their sweat and blood into Stirwaters Mill. She's determined to continue providing for the townspeople who depend on the mill for their livelihood, no matter what it costs her personally. But Stirwaters Mill has a mind of its own, and when matters look their worst, Charlotte must turn to a stranger for help, and decide just where her treasure lies.
Bunce does a wonderful job keeping tension consistent throughout the story. From the very first page, there's conflict, and it never lags. The writing is fluid and expressive ... the villagers' dialogue is wonderfully reminiscent of Joan Aiken ... the story is deeper than it appears on the surface. It's what I might call an epic fairy tale--really fleshed out.
My partner in crime (14 y/o brother) who also read Curse says it's a good book, but you can tell it's a first novel. The implication of that statement is encouraging, however--so much more to look forward to from Elizabeth Bunce in the future.
EC: Read an interview I did with Elizabeth over at Novel Journey last month.