Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold

Jane Nickerson

Publication Date: March 12th 2013

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Pages: 352

Genre:  Historical, Fairytale, Young Adult

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.
Here we have an adaptation of one of the more terrifying fairytales one can read, that of Bluebeard. Before I started this book, I wasn't quite sure how it would end up being. We have a gruesome fairytale (that you can't take the gruesome out, unlike many others) and a historical setting. How would these characters be? How could such a tale be pulled off succesfully with layers?

The book ended up not being what I suspected. The prose was fanciful and light. Our main character is a young girl from Boston transported to a gigantic castle of a place in the south and doted on by an opulent caretaker. She is naive, she is whimsical and it was a joy to read her growth, because she surely did not start the way she ended as a character.

Bernard, our Bluebeard, is terrifying in an anticipation kind of way. The author makes no move to hide from us as the readers who this man is based off of, so when we see the hints of his moods, we hold our breaths. We notice things a little earlier than Sophie, just enough to keep us wary, but not too much that it makes you want to yell at her for being so dumb.

The setting ended up fitting the characters and the tale so well as well. Slavery is alive and well and the way Bernard views it and his slaves is a way to echo how he views Sophie and how he is as a person. The feeling of being trapped in a situation you have no real control over is definitely a theme of the book. I also feel as though a lot of Sophie's growth comes from her disagreement of slavery and her need to distract Bernard to protect those who mean nothing to him.

I personally, found very little in this book that I didn't enjoy.

I recommend this book to those who like a good gothic novel with a villain and a heroine. This is a good book if you enjoy having that dreading anticipation over when something is going to happen. Strands of Bronze and Gold has characters you really become attached to and a charming villain that can terrify you with his charmingness.



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