Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
Remember the story of Rumpelstiltskin? He was that evil little imp who kept a maiden in a terrible spot stay alive and become the queen by spinning straw into gold for her? He saved her life, but at quite a cost, the promise of her firstborn child. He's not a good guy. Then, we have his incarnation as Mr. Gold on Once Upon a Time. That Rumpelstiltskin is a dark magical being who grants wishes, but always at a terrible cost. The people at ABC have given Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin a rich history of love and loss, bravery and cowardice.
Liesl Shurtliff has managed to one up them all. In her Rump, the title character is a small boy, living in a dying village. His mother died shortly after he was born, before she ever got the chance to say his full name. So, he is raised as Rump, the runt of a boy with a name with no destiny at all. In his village, destiny and name are considered aligned. Without a good name, you could not possibly have a good destiny.
Rump lives with his frail grandmother and spends his days working in a mine, hoping to find gold, which is increasingly more scarce. The king is obsessed with gold. The amount of gold found and turned over to him, means more food and supplies for the people in the village. As if this isn't bad enough, the person in charge of the supplies is the miller. Somehow, only the miller and his children are getting enough to eat.
What Rump discovers is that his mother isn't from the village and that she had the ability to spin straw into gold. But, that magic had a price. In fact, the price of that magic was what undid her. She could trade her gold, but she couldn't set the price. Whatever was offered she'd have to take. If the miller only gave her meager amounts of food for the gold, she had no choice but to accept. It turns out that Rump has the same gift/curse as his mother. He doesn't understand it, but he's forced to life with it.
Shurtliff gives us a likable Rump. A boy who tries to figure out who he is and what that means in the wider world. When his gift makes trouble, possibly lethal trouble, for the miller's spoiled daughter, he does what he can to make it right. The story we know isn't Rump's fault or a result of him being mean spirited. It's one boy's struggle to do what's right and figure out just who he is.