{Review} STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD by Jane Nickerson

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Did you see author Jane Nickerson's gorgeous guest post
on The Book Rat during FTF?

Did you see our interview with author Jane Nickerson
during FTF?

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

YOU SEE, I HAD A FABULOUSLY WEALTHY GODFATHER.  That was why anything was possible for me.

I couldn't remember a time when thoughts of him didn't send a silvery little thrill through my body.  He was a mystery and a magician and all my family's hopes for the future rolled into one.  Soon, when the carriage covered the last miles of our journey, I would meet him at last--my godfather and guardian, Monsieur Bernard de Cressac.
(Page 1, ARC edition;
changes may occur before the final version releases)

It's always exciting to see retellings of more obscure fairy tales.  Bluebeard is one of the lesser-known tales, perhaps because its violent nature prevents it from being read aloud to children as frequently as other, happier ones.  Recently, someone (and I forget who now, I apologize) mentioned that they'd been unfamiliar with Bluebeard, but was glad she'd waited to read up on it until after reading STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD.  It made the story more mysterious and exciting for her.  So don't be alarmed if you don't know the tale, either.  Going into it blind might actually be good for you, too!

When Sophia's father passes away, she accepts the invitation to come live with her godfather Monsieur Bernard de Cressac as his ward.  She's overwhelmed by his extreme generosity, and worries about the debt she's accruing as he spoils her lavishly.  Her godfather is an enchanting man, smart and interesting, and Sophia fancies him.  Her infatuation slowly begins to fade as Monsieur Bernard's darkness begins revealing itself in frightening ways.  She finds herself trapped, with no way out.  If she leaves, Monsieur Bernard will make her life--and her family's life--hell.  She might just have to tamper her true feelings and become his puppet in order to save her family, even if it means becoming his fifth wife...

Atmosphere and mood play a heavy role in STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD.  Jane Nickerson has a lush, descriptive way of bringing the Southern setting to life.  When Sophia first arrives, you can feel the humidity and her sticky sweatiness, for example.  At times I felt overwhelmed with description, but at others, I felt it played a vital role to the story.  I also appreciated the historical element brought on by setting the book in the South before the Civil War.  The Underground Railroad has a role to play, and I wish there had been a little more focus on this front.  Maybe in future books?  The South also hasn't been kind to women in the past, and the oppressiveness of women is rampant here.

As Sophia stays with Monsieur Bernard, she falls more deeply under his spell and is suckered in by his charm.  As he grows more comfortable around him, he lets his darker, more unyielding side show through.  Monsieur Bernard is an abusive man with precise needs and standards, and the book is an excellent portrayal at the way an innocent girl can unwittingly fall into an abusive lifestyle.  The setting added to this perfectly, and really fit the persona of Bluebeard's character.  I wasn't always a fan of Sophia's character, but she also impressed me.  She can be vain and frivolous  but that's how girls were taught to be back in the day.  Sophia proves she has a spine and the ability to think for herself, which is actually more unheard of in that day and age.  She also has a good heart, wanting to do more and help, but without having the chance or means to do so.  She's trapped in her world, but wants so much more in life.  Her strength of character runs much deeper than I initially would have assumed when picking this up.

This is being called a trilogy, but STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD ends with a full resolution and next year's THE MIRK AND MIDNIGHT HOUR will feature new characters and be based on the Scottish Ballad of Tam Lin.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I'm really glad that the model is a redhead, because so is Sophia.  Cover artists don't always get this right, and it doesn't always matter.  With this book, it does matter.  

I like the aged appearance of this cover, the way the texture is almost like a painting, especially when you look at the building in the distance.  It has a very historical feel to it, too.
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Jane Nickerson
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Received: For Review

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.


  1. I loved this book! I didn't know the Bluebeard tale before reading the book, and I think that worked in the book's favor. I can't wait to read The Mirk and Midnight Hour.

  2. I have heard a lot about this book but this is the first time i hear of the second one and see its cover. Both the covers are beautiful and I LOVE them. Love the models, too. And the idea of The Bluebeard fairy tale is enchanting. I have read up on it and it captivates me
    Your reader,


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