Gilded by Marissa Meyer

The basics

Title: Gilded


Series: Gilded #1

- Gilded (2021)
- Cursed (2022)

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Goodreads Summary:

Long ago cursed by the god of lies, a poor miller's daughter has developed a talent for spinning stories that are fantastical and spellbinding and entirely untrue.

Or so everyone believes.

When one of Serilda's outlandish tales draws the attention of the sinister Erlking and his undead hunters, she finds herself swept away into a grim world where ghouls and phantoms prowl the earth and hollow-eyed ravens track her every move. The king orders Serilda to complete the impossible task of spinning straw into gold, or be killed for telling falsehoods. In her desperation, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious boy to her aid. He agrees to help her... for a price.

Soon Serilda realizes that there is more than one secret hidden in the castle walls, including an ancient curse that must be broken if she hopes to end the tyranny of the king and his wild hunt forever.

Read a full summary of Gilded by Marissa Meyer below. If you can’t remember what happened in Gilded and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

What happened in Gilded?

  • A miller helps an injured god escape a hunt, and in return the god grants the miller a wish. The miller wishes to marry his girlfriend and have a baby, and his wish is granted. Kind of. The god is actually the god of stories and lies.
  • The miller and his wife have a daughter called Serilda. While she grows up, the other villagers think she is bad luck because her mother vanishes, and then a friend’s family were struck with misfortune.
  • During a wild hunt, Serilda rescues a couple of moss maidens and hides them in her cellar. The Alder King questions her because he thinks she has hidden them, but Serilda lies about why she is outside her house. Serilda says she’s looking for straw to spin into gold.
  • The Alder King accepts this after one of his ghosts agrees that it’s possible.
  • The moss maidens give Serilda a ring and a necklace in exchange for her help.
  • Serilda starts telling this story but no one in town believes her.
  • During the next wild hunt and full moon, a coachman comes for Serilda on behalf of the Erlking. Serilda needs to go with him or she and her father will be killed.
  • Serilda is taken to the other side of the veil. She arrives at the Erlking’s castle and is attacked by a hell hound. Not the best welcome.
  • The Erlking takes Serilda to his dungeon and tells her she must turn his straw into gold. Obviously Serilda made all this up, so she can’t actually do what the king is asking. She starts to freak out a bit.
  • A boy called Gild shows up and tells Serilda he is able to spin the straw into gold. Gild isn’t human, but he’s not a ghost or a ghoul. He doesn’t know his real name.
  • Serilda gives Gild her ring in exchange for his help with the straw.
  • Gild gets to work and Serilda uses the opportunity to tell Gild a story. This one is about a young princess who was stolen by the king for his lover. The princess is killed, and so her brother gets revenge by killing the king’s lover. The Erlking then kills the brother. This isn’t a great story, and Gild doesn’t like it either.
  • Once all the straw has been turned into gold, the Erlking shows back up. He allows Serilda to sleep in another room.
  • Serilda wakes up and finds she has crossed the veil again. She leaves the castle and heads into town. Some people see her and think she’s a ghost. They end up welcoming her when they realise she’s a living human. She is given a history book about the town and is also escorted back home to her father.
  • When Serilda arrives home, her father tells her what really happened to her mother. He says Serilda’s mother wasn’t taken away by the hunt, but she went with them because she was also wild.
  • Serilda and her father decide to move away so Serilda can’t be stolen back.
  • On the next full moon, Serilda’s father is taken by the hunt. She follows him to a castle, but her father disappears. The Erlking imprisons Serilda and warns her not to run away again.
  • Serilda is thrown back into the dungeon and is told to spin straw again. Gild shows up and asks for Serilda’s necklace in return for spinning the straw into gold.
  • Serilda continues the story of the prince.
  • Gild kisses Serilda.
  • The following morning, Serilda heads into town. The townsfolk greet her, and she tells them she must stay close to the town. They explain that they themselves have a special deal with the hunt. They feed them so they don’t steal the children from the town.
  • Serilda tries looking for her father but she has no idea whether he is dead or alive.
  • During the spring equinox, Serilda heads back into town and watches as the hunt rampages through and eats all the food.
  • Serilda sneaks back into the castle while everyone is out. While she is trying to look at the tapestry she is attacked by a drude. Gild saves her. Serilda tells Gild that the townsfolk appreciate his gold offerings. They kiss again.
  • During the next full moon, Serilda goes to the castle and is given more straw. As Serilda is out of jewellery, she promises to give Gild her first born child.
  • They sleep together.
  • The Erlking shows up and shows her that they have been using the gold to catch beasts.
  • Serilda is lured into the forest and meets with Shrub Grandmother and the moss maidens. They say the Erlking wants to use the gold she is making to catch a god in order to bring Pechra back to life. Serilda agrees not to make any more gold, but she’s concerned she will be killed if she doesn’t do what the king says.
  • Serilda asks the Shrub Grandmother who the old royal family were before the Erlking because Serilda thinks the king has erased them from history. The Shrub Grandmother doesn’t know the answer.
  • Serilda’s father comes back as a zombie and attacks her. The school teacher saves Serilda and reveals she’s a witch. She gives Serilda a potion that allows Serilda to appear dead.
  • Serilda drinks the potion on the next full moon. It does seem to work and the Erlking thinks she is dead.
  • The following morning, all the children from the village are missing. The Erlking knew what Serilda was up to all along. 
  • Serilda goes off to rescue the children but four of them are killed – only Gertrud could possibly still be alive. Serilda must figure out how to cross the veil and save her.
  • Serilda realises that the stories she has been telling are coming true. Gild is the prince from the stories. Serilda goes on to tell the rest of this story, about how the Erlking killed Gild’s family and took over the castle. Gild was captured by the Erlking and bound to the castle. He can only be released when someone says his real name. The Erlking wiped everyone’s memories of the previous royal family, so this will be quite difficult.
  • Serilda arrives at the castle and is able to squeeze through the veil. She is met by the Erlking on his throne. The ghosts of the dead children surround him. Serilda asks him to release the ghosts so they can be at peace in the afterlife. He refuses.
  • Serilda asks the Erlking to set Gertrud free, and he says he will do so if she spins gold again. Serilda agrees to do so.
  • Serilda is taken to the courtyard and told to spin in front of a bunch of people.
  • Serilda sees that Gild has been tied up on the castle walls in his own golden thread.
  • Serilda tries to spin but it doesn’t go well. She releases that she’s pregnant with Gild’s child, and uses this as an excuse to get out of spinning.
  • The Erlking tells his surgeon to take the baby out of her. Serilda says her magic won’t return to her because it has now been passed on to the baby.
  • The Erlking decides to tell everyone the baby is his and to marry Serilda so he can use its magic. If Serilda agrees to this, Gertrud will be freed.
  • Serilda agrees and is bound to the castle.
  • Their marriage is announced.
  • Gertrud is released, but she’s now a ghost.
  • Gild comes to visit Serilda and is quite upset about the whole thing. Serilda doesn’t tell him she’s pregnant. She does, however, tell him that he’s the prince from the story.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Gilded by Marissa Meyer. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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