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Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Friday, March 29, 2013
Strands of Bronze and Gold
Jane Nickerson

3 Stars: A Good Read
Series: Strands of Bronze and Gold #1
Hardback: 352 Pages
Publication: March 12, 2013 by Random House Children's Books

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.

This book is Criminal Minds [victim’s perspective] meets the Grimm brothers. As a fairy tale lover, I was expecting a bit more out of Strands of Bronze and Gold. As a reader, I enjoyed the way that the author took liberties with the story.

My first impression of Sophia Petheram was – boring. Sophia is supposed to have this insatiable curiosity that moves the story forward - and Bernard even calls her out on it - but I really did not find her all that inquisitive. She spends the first third of the book languishing in obsession, the second third just hanging around, and it wasn’t till the end that she really came through. As this novel is a Bluebeard retelling, I feel like the author could have added more action to Sophie’s everyday life. (Hello, there's a serial killer in the house! I want to see some sense of urgency.) There were qualities I admired such as her compassionate attitude with the enslaved servitude and the fact that she did evaluate what she was chose to do and did not act upon sheer stupidity.

Monsieur Bernard de Cressac was a creep. At the same time, he’s probably my favorite character in this book. Out of all the characters, it is Bernard that is the most fleshed out. In this retelling of Bluebeard, Bernard was a hottie. People did not avoid him because of a hideous beard; no, his good looks encouraged his air of mystery around town. What really tore me up was Sophia’s infatuation with him. I thought it was oogie that even though he was her father’s age and, of all relationships, her godfather, he still dared to hit on her. That was a very disturbing angle. A godfather is to take the place of a father that for whatever reason has been removed out of a child’s life. I felt that this added twist showed the extent of Bernard’s sick mind. I’ve never thought of the story of Bluebeard as merely one of a serial killer.

To my surprise, the author introduced another more romantic counterpart to Sophia. I thought it a very good choice, because it helped set up a background story to Sophia’s future marriage. In the original tale, I always found it lacking that the girl lived happily ever after because she now had money. The end. Gideon was refreshing, and he gave Sophia something to do while she dealt with the creep of her godfather. Another twist the author added was the plainness of Gideon’s looks. In most of the books I’ve read the guy that gets the girls is usually good looking. At one point in the story, in order to calm Bernard down, Sophia even actually blasts on how ugly Gideon is. I really respect Gideon, especially since he cherished her despite her disregard for her personal reputation. The one phrase that comes to mind when I think of Gideon is “aww, you tender-hearted fool.”

In retellings, authors may bend off of the original story line, which can either go well or not. I was pleasantly surprised with the direction that Nickerson decided to take with the ending. She did somewhat incorporate the rescue-by-brother, but it was not a central part of the story. Though the one-dimensional Sophie in the first third lowered the reading experience for me, the characters are more real and believable and the plot intriguing.

A copy was provided by Random House for review.

8 comments on "Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson"
  1. Criminal Minds meets Grim? That sounds good. Sad about the one-dimensional Sophia at first, but the rest of it intrigues me enough to give it a chance.

  2. I didn't knew the Bluebirds tale, so I googled it and it's a mix of horror slash sad. I don't think it is something for me but I'm glad that the author did a good job with it.

  3. I just need this book in hands right now! Your review made me even more curious than I have been to this point. It just sounds like so much fun!

  4. I loved this book so much! Bernard was probably my favorite character exactly for all the reasons you stated above. Sophie did seem kind of flat at first, but in the end I really liked her character and how she'd grow over the course of the book. Glad you liked it!

  5. I just picked up the audio book of this. I am really looking forward to it. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  6. Thanks you guys! I'm glad I've inspired curiousity in a few of you, and I hope ya' have fun reading. Read on!

  7. I can't wait to read this one. I think re-tellings are becoming very popular and I can't wait to see this one since I don't know that much about the original story.

    Thanks for the great review!

  8. I agree that I didn't think Sophia was that inquisitive and I definitely thought she was boring. The fact that I knew the truth behind her godfather and she was so slow drove me crazy.


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