Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold, by Jane Nickerson @jane_nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold is a retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale. So, let me just say, I knew nothing about this fairy tale before reading this book. And, I don't think it mattered.

When Sophia Petheram's father dies, she is invited to live with  her godfather, Monsieur Bernard de Cressac in his mansion, Wyndriven Abbey, in  Mississippi. She's always been spoiled by her godfather, and doesn't hesitate to accept his offer, and leave her brothers and sister in Boston.

She is initially charmed by M de Cressac, and he lavishes her with gifts. She is surprised that his wife has died, but she enjoys exploring the mansion and grounds. Slowly Sophia realizes that there's more to M de Cressac than she realizes. First of all, he's moody and can have a very hot temper. He restricts Sophie's movements so that she has no one to talk to. And, Sophie discovers disturbing things about his marital history.

What all seems like the greatest bit of fortune that Sophie has ever dreamed of slowly (very, very slowly) turns into what basically amounts to a prison. Any attempt Sophie makes to procure more freedom is met with more and more walls being set before her.

There are several secondary characters that are important, but this is essentially Sophie's story. I have mixed feelings about the pacing of Strands of Bronze and Gold. I felt the build up was too slow. After Sophie arrives at Wyndriven Abbey, there is a lot of set up before anything sinister even remotely begins to happen. I'm just afraid that some readers will give up too soon -- and really, you shouldn't. It's a small complaint about what turns out to be a fiendishly macabre story. I loved the impression of the noose getting tighter and tighter around Sophie's neck. The slow and deliberate pace was perfect, even if the reader really knows what's going on before Sophie does.

I felt sorry for Sophie, but in the end appreciated her strength. There's a great deal of growth in her character, as there needs to be in order for her to overcome the great obstacles that M de Cressac sets before her.

All in all, Strands of Bronze and Gold is a satisfying story that I will happily recommend to teens who enjoy a twisted, sinister tale.

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, March 12, 2013
eBook obtained from NetGalley
352 pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. I never heard of the Bluebeard fairy tale until I picked up the first volume of the Fables graphic novel, but even then I had to google the name. Really looking forward to this one to find out the whole story.

  2. The storyline for this one intrigued me because of the Bluebeard tie. Thanks for the wonderful review!

  3. Sounds like I'll have to add this one to my fairy tale pile. Nice review.

  4. I saw this one for the first time when I was checking the new releases for my Fresh Batch post and I was wondering why I hadn't heard anything about it. It sounds right up my alley! I love these types of mysteries with a sinister plot and it kind of sounds a little psychological thriller too. I also never heard of the Bluebeard fairy tale before. I'l def. be keeping an eye out for this one! Great review, Annette!

  5. I absolutely loved this one and I didn't even notice the pacing. Bluebeard is one of my favorite fairy tales so I was excited to see a YA retelling. So good. Glad you enjoyed it as well!

  6. I love fairytales and I'm excited to see a retelling of this story! Twisted and sinister, sounds very good to me :D



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