The Crimson Thread

Written by Suzanne Weyn
Review by Tamela McCann

In the late 1800s, many Irish immigrated to the United States in order to provide a better life for themselves. Most came with little other than dreams and a few family heirlooms, but a lucky few also had a skill that was in demand. Such was the case with Bridget O’Malley, whose seamstress skills (and the audacious bragging of her father) help her land a valuable job creating dresses for the daughters of an industrialist. Unfortunately, while talented, Bridget’s work isn’t quite up to the creations demanded by her new employer, and she must turn to Ray Stalls, a mysterious young man whose sewing and designing far exceed her own. But what price will Ray exact from Bridget as payment for his help? Would he even demand her firstborn child?

Suzanne Weyn’s The Crimson Thread is a delightful retelling of the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin, but instead of a mysterious little man spinning straw into gold, we have an elusive young man who seems to have fallen in love with our heroine. Throughout the book Weyn gives fairly reasonable explanations for things that were more magical in the original tale; Bridget’s “firstborn child” being her younger sister and the straw spun into gold being a thread created by Ray. I enjoyed Weyn’s realistic spin, even if it does include a thoroughly unlikely marriage proposal and a mild touch of political correctness. And while I understood the reasons for name changes, they tended to be distracting. However, these are minor annoyances that did not take away from my overall enjoyment.

The Crimson Thread is part of a series of fairy tale retellings from Simon Pulse, and I’m intrigued to pick up more to see if they measure up as well as this one did. This young adult novel will appeal to readers of historical fiction and romance alike.