cover image Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

Liesl Shurtliff. Knopf, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-307-97793-9

Debut author Shurtliff upends the traditional characterization of this fairy tale's antihero, recasting Rumpelstiltskin as a sympathetic and tragically doomed protagonist. His mother dies shortly after childbirth and only manages to utter half a name, Rump, making him the butt of jokes and also influencing his fate. "In The Kingdom your name isn't just what people call you. Your name is full of meaning and power. Your name is your destiny," he explains. The author effectively builds the devastating events%E2%80%94including the death of his Gran, hunger, and hopelessness%E2%80%94that lead Rump to discover his ability to spin straw into gold, riches he trades to the town swindler, the miller. When the miller lies to the king and tells him his daughter possesses this ability, Rump steals into the castle to help her, trading magic for trinkets until she offers her firstborn, which the rules of magic dictate he must accept. Shurtliff fills Rump's world with common magic and deadpan humor; the picaresque-style narrative gives the maligned character a refreshingly plainspoken voice, while honoring the original story's hauntingly strange events. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Agent: Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary. (Apr.)