The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn

The Crimson ThreadGoodreads: The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin 
Series: Once Upon a Time
Source: Purchased

Summary: In 1880, Bridget and her family move from Ireland to New York in search of a better life.  They are unprepared for the squalid conditions of their new home and the widespread prejudice they face, but Bridget’s father always makes the most of every situation.  His optimism and imagination look as though they might lead his family into trouble, however, when he promises his wealthy employer, head of a giant textile company, that Bridget can create the world’s most beautiful dresses.  Bridget will have to deliver, or she and her father will both be fired.  Fortunately, a mysterious man from her neighborhood seems willing to help her—but for a price.

Review:  Weyn creates a unique fairytale retelling in The Crimson Thread by utilizing the genre of historical fiction.  Readers get the benefit of the interesting, slightly foreign setting of 1880s New York while seeing how “magic” might happen in real life.  In fact, the only times true magic enters the book—the opening and closing statements by a mysterious fairy historian—are its weakest moments.  It is much more interesting to see Weyn translate fairytale moments like “spinning straw into gold” into a real world setting.

The historical accuracy might not be all that it can be; some of the details seem off.  Yet Weyn does hit many of the  major issues of the era, including xenophobia, crowded tenements, sweatshops, child labor laws, and more.  Readers experience the big picture of the time period, which is probably what will stick with them, rather than details about the prices of food.  Also, the point in a book like this is most often the characters and the plot.  The setting is important, but often as the backdrop to the actions or as the machinery that influences their lives.  Bridget’s concerns about working conditions matter because they lead her to make certain life decisions.  And these are the types of facts that Weyn gets right.

The story itself will lead readers through a maze of emotions as they sympathize with Bridget and her family upon their arrival in New York, hope for their success, and cheer for what triumphs they earn.  The characters Bridget encounters during her journey are similarly diverse, hailing from all nations and walks of life.  Even more interestingly, there are two love interests—but this is not the average love triangle.  Both men seem like attractive and viable options, and readers will stress over Bridget’s decisions before finding satisfaction in her fairytale ending.

The Crimson Thread is a creative addition to the Once Upon a Time series.  Weyn introduces her readers to the magic of the ordinary and to the good in every bad situation.  Her book is about hard work and hope, and readers will love learning along with her spunky heroine Bridget.

Published: 2008

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2 thoughts on “The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn

    • Krysta says:

      Weyn’s transfer of fairy tales to real-world situations makes her my favorite author in the Once Upon a Time series. Some of the other books seem like the same story, just set in a slightly different magical world than the one you might have conjured in your mind. Weyn’s books are truly retellings, though.


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