Friday, March 8, 2013

Becky's View: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold
by Jane Nickerson
♦publisher: Knopf BYR
♦release date: March 12, 2013
♦hardcover, 352 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
series: Strands of Bronze and Gold, book 1
♦source: ALA Midwinter
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.

Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold is a beautifully done retelling of the gothic fairy tale of Bluebeard.  Jane Nickerson does an amazing job writing in the classic style of fairy tales of old to give it the perfect tone and air of the mid 1800s.  It's like stepping back into a Brontë novel, but infinitely creepier.

This book is such an emotional read.  With it being a retelling, if you know the original story at all, you know exactly who the bad guy is, so you watching in horror as Sophia falls for his charm and exotic wit, all the while, your mind is screaming, "noooo!"  Then comes fear as she slowly realizes his true demeanor---his cruelty and madness literally seems to ooze out of his false facade, like a snake shedding skin.  Frustration set in when it becomes clear that because of the times and her situation, she truly is stuck.  There is also joy, as she finds a way to sneak in her moments alone in the woods and the happinesses she finds there.  Compassion takes over as her hopes are dashed that her family will save her, but they only manage to misunderstand everything and dig her deeper into danger.  And finally there is sheer terror as the terrible truth is revealed and Sophia must fight for her life. 

The spine-tingling moments of this story were my favorite part.  There were moments, one chapter ending in particular, that I literally had to pause and set the book down because my whole body was covered in chills.  There are ghostly encounters and a bit of gore, but I loved that despite all that, de Cressac was still the most terrifying threat to Sophia.

I loved how opinionated Sophia was about the ways of the world.  She had a good heart and an insatiable curiosity.  The story touches on the struggles of the slaves and the start of the Underground Railroad and ties the subject compellingly into the storyline.

A really wonderful debut and a definite must-read for fans of fairy tale retellings like me! 

From what I can tell, the following books in the series will be set in the same world, but possibly with different characters. I thought Sophia's story was very satisfyingly concluded, so I can't see it continuing wit her.  This is definitely a series I will be sticking with, though!

Find Jane Nickerson online: Website  •  Twitter  •   Facebook

Purchase Strands of Bronze and Gold:  Amazon  •  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound


  1. Replies
    1. Definitely give it a try, Juju! I'd love to hear what you think!

  2. I'm reading this one right now and loving it! I adore fairy tale retellings, and am so thrilled to have a new series of these to look forward to. Wonderful review!

    1. I was glad to hear these would be a series, too! I loved the setting and all the subplots---Nickerson is a great writer!

  3. I have an e-ARC for review and I am looking forward to starting it soon after reading your review! I like that the story has a Gothic feel to it and the creepy suspenseful atmosphere. I suppose that watching her fall for de Cressac's charm would make readers feel the same way you do when watching a horror movie and thinking "look behind you!"