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Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

No doubt about it, I loved Stands of Bronze and Gold. It was haunting, dreamy and all-around amazing.

It’s definitely one of the best fairy tale retellings I’ve read in awhile.

Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

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strands of bronze and gold by jane nickerson

Title & Author: Amazon by Jane Nickerson

Genre: YA – Fairytale Retelling, Historical Fiction

Release Date: March 12, 2013

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

How I Got the Book: ARC via NetGalley

Description:

“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.”

Bluebeard Retold

What makes a good retelling? Is it accuracy to the original story? Or, is it capturing the essence of the tale and making it new?

I tend to agree with the later statement. The original tale of Bluebeard is very similar to Strands of Bronze and Gold, but a few key elements are different. In the original story, Sophia’s character is actually bluebeard’s wife, not his god-daughter.

To me, that’s a huge and pivotal change in the story, BUT I think it’s genius. By changing up the fairy tale, the author has a chance to rewrite the “moral” or focus of the book, making it new and fresh.

And believe me, Nickerson did us all a favor. The moral of the story (which you can read in full here) was, “Curiosity, in spite of its appeal, often leads to deep regret.” Um…I have so many issues with this, I can’t even go into them all right now. By changing the path the story took, Nickerson also changed the point of the book.

What I took away from the story was that inner strength, conviction and purity of heart can overcome the greatest of evil. BAM. Much better than “it’s your own fault if you find out your husband is a serial killer.”

Happy Endings

There’s so much to love about Strands of Bronze and Gold. I loved the setting – a Gothic abbey reconstructed in Mississippi. I loved the added drama of life in the pre-emancipation South. I loved Sophia, and her adoration of the pretty things her now orphaned brothers and sisters can’t afford.

I also loved the rich descriptions in the novel. For example:

“A lopsided, gibbous moon, striped with shredded black clouds, bathed the gardens in pale light. The distant lake reflected it, and the Palladian bridge and my swan boat created a haunting scene from fairy tales. Perfectly peaceful. Nothing amiss.”

.

Sophia’s girlish qualities also had me laughing:

“‘My dear girl, thank heavens your family is coming soon. And by the way, you have very tiny wrists.'” He called me his dear girl. And he noticed my wrists.”

Love it.

Nickerson wasn’t afraid to get creepy with the whole older man, younger girl bit or any of the other gruesome bits of the story. I liked it though – it added realism to this otherwise fanciful story.

OVERALL:

Not only is this story full of lush descriptions and interesting and complex characters, it is a stunningly-told narrative and I highly recommend. Definitely put Strands of Bronze and Gold on the to of your TBR pile this year.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • http://twitter.com/heylisarenee Lisa!

    I don’t even know the Bluebeard tale so this sounds extra amazing!