Sunday, March 31, 2013

Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold

Strands of Bronze and Gold (Strands of Bronze and Gold, #1)Author: Jane Nickerson
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Publisher: 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.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale

We reclined upon the pillows and supped from foods spread on an enormous brass tray. Even the meal was magical. Cakes, so light and airy it seemed they might float away; cubes of pale, creamy cheeses that melted in my mouth; vegetables dipped in spicy sauce; pastel fruit that tasted of sunlight in far lands.

My godfather’s wives had had to deal with him. Since finding their possessions, their personalities had become ever more vivid in my imagination. I could guess how they would have reacted to M. Bernard’s abrupt fits of temper. Tara would have flown into a rage, Victoire would likely have withdrawn, Tatiana would have abased herself, and Adele would have fallen into melancholy. I would handle him better than they had.

There was such a thing as too many paintings composed of graphic scenes from the Old Testament and mythology. There was such a thing as too much grandeur, too much opulence and curlicues and gold leaf. Too many rooms to be the dwelling of one man and, now, one girl.  

It was ridiculously vast and grim and terrifying. I loved it already.

Of course Ducky would report this to M. Bernard. She would betray us.

I was living the nightmare I had dreamed in the orangery, when I knew a ghastly face approached. In it I had cried out to Anne, begging to know if my brothers were yet coming. In the reality no one was coming to help.

I will admit right now before I even start this review, that before reading this novel I had never even heard of the fairytale called Bluebeard. While I was at first saddened by this and almost went to look it up online, I then convinced myself that maybe it would be a good idea to read the book without any knowledge of this tale, and I am so glad that I did it that way. For those of you that know nothing of this fairytale, like me, then you have two options before reading this book: read the fairytale or go in face first like me. I don’t think it would make a difference either way. The story is still rich with culture, intense with mystery, and vibrant with traces of southern culture.

This book tells the story of a young girl, Sophia Petheram, who has recently lost her father and will now go to stay with her godfather, M. Bernard de Cressac in the swamps and plantations of the great southern state of Mississippi. Sophia’s life changes abruptly as she is introduced to this new, lavish lifestyle that awaits her at Wyndriven Abbey. Sophia may not be prepared for the horrifying secrets and the ghastly ghosts that await her behind the great stone walls of the abbey, but will she come out alive or will her fate be just as the other brides of M. de Cressac’s?

Jane Nickerson has an amazing talent for creating a world full of mystery and intrigue. I was immediately pulled into the setting, Deep South Mississippi, maybe because of my own southern fetishes, but needless to say it was riveting and highly inviting. Sophia’s character seemed a little naïve to me at first, maybe because I saw right through M. Bernard’s character, but I started to warm up to her after a few chapters. I loved Sophia’s good nature and her character is easy to follow and become accustomed to. My favorite part was her adjustment to the lavish and luxurious lifestyle that she was not at all used to in her former home.

This book was highly suspenseful and took some unexpected twists and turns. I was not expecting the events that took place at the end of the novel, but I will say that I definitely saw through Monsieur de Cressac. I loved the idea of four previously deceased wives and was on the edge of my seat for the duration of the book because I desperately wanted for the mystery to be solved. I have found a new favorite author in Jane Nickerson and am anxious to get my hands on her next novel!

***A BIG thank you to the publishers at Random House Children’s Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***


  1. OOh nice review!! Reading all sorts of good reviews on this one! I already know of the Bluebeard tale yet still look forward to reading this!

    I won my pick of any 2 books in a contest awhile back and I chose this one along with another, but I have yet to receive the books and cannot get a hold of the contest host! Pretty soon I'll just be buying it myself!

    Once again, lovely review! Glad to hear that it's still an amazing read!

  2. Ohh this sounds interesting. I put it on my TBR list the other week but I may bump it up a few books so I can get to it sooner. Glad to see you enjoyed it!

    Miss J @ Miss Book Reviews