Jul 18, 2013

Review--Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

As you all may know, I looooove fairy tales and fairy tale retellings are definitely up alley! Jane Nickerson's Strands of Bronze and Gold is a retelling of, the possibly lesser known, tale of Bluebeard. I read that one years ago, but remember the gist of the story. I won't get into it here, just in case you haven't read it. That way I won't be spoiling anything. I've read reviews where they do one or the other--telling you about Bluebeard or leaving you in the dark. I'd rather leave you shocked and guessing as I was when I first read Bluebeard some many years ago!

No once upon a time setting here in Mississippi in the year 1855. Sophie is about to get a new life when after the death of her father--for her mother died when she was just a baby, so like fairy tales!--she is sent to live with her godfather, Benard de Cressac. She thinks she's getting a happy new life and finally going to meet her godfather and wife in person. She is taken by surprise to learn that his wife has passed, and has some uneasy feelings at first, but grows to enjoy her time at his mansion that was once an abbey overseas that he brought back over and had rebuilt here.

Poor Sophia, she is a bit oblivious in some ways. She doesn't quite catch onto to all the looks Benard gives her, the lingering touches. The way the servants eye her and walk around her as if walking on egg shells. There's definitely tension where the servants are concerned. I was little antsy with how Benard, her godfather, acted towards her. But this is mostly because in my family, with my cousins and sister, our godparents are our uncles and aunts. Selectively, that is, not all the aunts and uncles are godparents to all the cousins! So that is why I was a little uneasy with Benard's advances since that's just how things were when I was a child. But still, the man is said to be 40 and Sophia is just 17, that kind of age difference also made me uneasy. I know in the past marriages happened with great age differences, but still it makes me shiver with unease!

The story was still told beautifully! Due to the nature of the story, Sophia had to be a tad clueless about some things. Plus, she still is just a teenager in 1885! But I did admire her bravery, there were times she went poking around and I held my breath in fear for her, because Benard was definitely a scary dude with a temper. That and the fact if he didn't get his way...well, things just didn't turn out good. Benard definitely has a possessiveness to his personality and it was just downright creepy coming from someone who is supposed to be your guardian!

What I loved about this story and wasn't expecting was the ghostly appearances! I won't get too much into that, but let's just say there are a few spectral residents at Wyndriven Abbey!

The incorporation of history in the novel was nice too. That being the Underground Railroad and slavery. It wasn't a huge part of the story, just a little background action. But it was interesting to see Sophia's thoughts on it since she was originally from the north.

There was also a bit of romance and it was all the more endearing because Sophia had to keep it a secret from Benard. She falls for Gideon when she stumbled upon him one day while on a walk and right away a connection is formed, but in order to protect him from the fierce Benard, she only meets him in secret in the woods. But of course, something naturally drives the two apart for awhile.

Strands of Bronze and Gold was definitely a delightful retelling of the Bluebeard tale. Perhaps a tad slow at times, but you were always rewarded later with some big revelation or action--not the kickbutting fighting kind, but just "action". You'll also be surprised to know that the story doesn't end happily ever after, guess that was too cliched for Jane or she had some other reason. But there is still a happy ending with possibilities for more to come! I like knowing that even though this tale is done and told, that the characters are still going to live happily ever after. I suppose the words are really needed because it's obvious from the tone of the story.

If you love fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, than this is definitely one you should read! It's a dark, gothic kind of mystery with some lightheartedness thrown in for good measure. The series she is set to write, seem to be set in the same world, but will contain a different fairy tale to be retold. The next book, The Mirk and Midnight Hour will be based on "The Ballad of Tam Tim". Jane Nickerson is definitely an author I am going to be following for awhile!

Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars



  1. Great review! I have this one on my shelf and am even more excited to get to it!

    Sabrina @I Heart Y.A. Fiction

  2. Oh great review! I have been wanting to read this one forever!


  3. Great review! I didn't like the book that much. It was so slow sometimes :(

    I just did a review on the book today, too! Check it out at http://myviewpointonbooks.blogspot.com/2013/07/strands-of-bronze-and-gold-book-review.html

  4. I'm not always a fan of fairy tales. But I like the idea of the added history etc. Great review. Thankyou

  5. Bluebeard is a scary fairytale! I haven't read he original but I've seen lots of movie retellings. Didn't realize there would be ghosts!

  6. I like the sound of this one. The romance with Gideon seems like a nice addition.. Great review! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.


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