Cover of Gilded, featuring a golden crown dripping golden liquid onto a golden castle

About the Book

Title: Gilded (Gilded #1)
Published: 2021
Series: Gilded
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Cover Story: Drip
BFF Charm: Heck Yes
Talky Talk: Retelling
Bonus Factors: Gods and Goddesses, Sexy Evil Dude
Factor: Series Starter
Relationship Status: Spinning

Content Warning: Gilded contains graphic scenes of death, some of children.

Cover Story: Drip

Is drip still a slang term for being extremely fashionable/fancy? Hopefully so, because this cover is that. (Can you tell I’m an old?) And also a little wicked, which goes well with the story. I really love that title treatment, too. Very old school fairy tale, which is—again—very appropriate. On the whole it’s not quite Montell Jordan-worthy, but close!

The Deal: 

Serilda Moller, daughter of the local miller, was born with the blessing of a god. But the god in question was not only the god of stories, but also the god of lies. And Serilda’s blessing, the physical manifestation of which is “untrustworthy eyes—pitch-black irises, each overlaid by a golden wheel with eight tiny golden spokes,” has always been seen by the townspeople as a sign of back luck. Serilda’s penchant for telling outrageous fairy tales doesn’t help her case any; most people view her as strange, and the worst ones will tell her that to her face. (Or worse.)

Her storytelling gets her in even worse trouble one full moon when the Erlking and his band of demonic ghosts ride through their homestead, looking for prey that Serilda hid in their cellar. When the Erlking questions why a young woman would be outside so late at night, she tells him that it’s the best time to gather the straw she needs to spin into gold. Serilda thinks she’s gotten away with the lie until the next full moon, when the Erlking comes for her … and forces her to prove her gift.

BFF Charm: Heck Yes

BFF Charm Heck Yes - sparklier and shinier than the original BFF Charm

Serilda has the kind of imagination that I’ve always longed to have—one that allows her to spin wild stories at the drop of a hat. It’s a brilliant gift, and I disagree 100% with the people of her town who view that skill as something evil. She’s also a truly kind individual, and an outsider who hasn’t let the rudeness of her neighbors dull her shine. I applaud that kind of confidence! I would always wonder a bit if she was telling me the truth, but her earnestness and genuine kindness would always outweigh those concerns.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

When Serilda’s taken by the Erlking and told to spin straw into gold OR ELSE, she has no idea how she’s going to do it. But then a strange young man appears, a young man who calls himself a poltergeist, with an offer of help, Serilda takes him up on it, even while being conflicted on his true motivations. And although she’s completely unsure of whether she can trust him, there’s something about him that she can’t deny is very compelling.

Talky Talk: Retelling

With Gilded, Meyer returns to her roots as a reteller—something she is undeniably gifted at, and something I’m so glad she continues to do. Gilded is a retelling of the Rumplestiltskin tale, and it leans much more toward original fairy tales—including some grisly deaths and not-so-happy endings—than the more sanitized, HEA-ending Disney versions folks are often more familiar with. And I loved that about the book. Fairy tales don’t have to be shiny and happy, and when you’re dealing with actual faeries—the kind that would rather you dance to your death than dress you up for a ball—it’s often more “realistic” that they’re not. Meyer found a great balance of that in Gilded; while there are happy elements, they don’t outweigh the darker themes.

Bonus Factor: Gods and Goddesses

A group of Greek gods from the Percy Jackson movies sit on their thrones on Mount Olympus

The gods of this universe are an interesting bunch, and I particularly appreciate the fact that Meyer made them non-binary beings.

She looked at Serilda. “Is Velos a boy?”

“They can be, if they wish to be,” said Serilda. “But sometimes they might wish to be a girl. Sometimes a god might be both a boy and a girl … and sometimes, neither.”

Gerdut’s frown became more pronounced, and Serilda could tell she hadn’t helped matters. She chuckled. “Think of it this way. We mortals, we put limitations on ourselves. We think—Hans is a boy, so he must work in the fields. Anna is a girl, so she must learn to spin yarn.”

Anna released a disgusted groan.

“But if you were a god,” Serilda continued, “would you limit yourself? Of course not. You can be anything.”

(This quote was pulled from an e-galley of the book, so the final wording might have changed.)

Obviously, this is a bit, well, binary as far as Serilda’s view of mortals goes, but I like that the people of this world, which is set in an old-timey, horse-and-carriage time period, are willing to give thought to ideas outside of the “norm.”

Bonus Factor: Sexy Evil Dude

Ben Barnes as the Darkling from Shadow and Bone

I know, I know—it’s not good to find super problematic characters appealing. But when they’re described as otherworldly handsome and sinisterly charming, I CAN’T HELP MYSELF.

Factor: Series Starter

Stack of YA book series

I did not realize this when I started reading, but I got to about 10 minutes left in the book (per my Kindle app) and realized that things were not going to be wrapped up by the end. The ending doesn’t leave you with a major cliffhanger, but you’ll definitely be left wanting more/needing the next book to come out NOW. (Per Goodreads, there will be a sequel that’ll come out next November, but it’ll just be a duology.)

Relationship Status: Spinning

I had an inkling going into this relationship, Book, that you’d appeal to me in a variety of ways, and I was not wrong. I am already planning long vacations we can go on with our earnings from our spun gold, as long as we can escape the Erlking’s clutches relatively unscathed. I believe in us. We’ve got an HEA in our future, I just know it.

Literary Matchmaking


If you’re interested in more of Meyer’s retellings, definitely check out Heartless, her take on the origin story of the Queen of Hearts.

Seven Endless Forests

April Genevieve Tucholke’s take on the King Arthur myth definitely leans darker, as most of her books tend to do.

Dark and Deepest Red

McLemore’s books are always wonderfully queer (in the LGBTQ+ sense) and this retelling of an already dark tale gets truly personal.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Feiwel & Friends, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Gilded is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.