Friday, May 3, 2013

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

This is a retelling of the fairy tale Bluebeard--so no surprises on what happens in the story.  It even says on the cover "The Bluebeard fairy tale retold".  If you're not familiar with this fairy tale, I'll quickly sum it up:  Bluebeard has been married many times, and all his wives have died--but no one know how.  He picks another young woman to be his wife, charms her, and marries her.  Leaving his estate on business, he gives her the keys to all the rooms, and tells her she can go in every room, but one.  

Yep, she goes in that room.  And finds the bodies of all his dead wives.  And realizes she's married a murderer, and she's probably next on the list.  Bluebeard returns, finds out she went in the forbidden room, and attempts to kill her.  Luckily, she is saved, Bluebeard is killed, and she inherits all his wealth.  

That's pretty much what happens in Strands of Bronze and Gold.  This retelling takes places in 1855 Mississippi, where Sophie has journeyed from Boston to live with her godfather, Monsieur Bernard de Cressac in his giant home, Wyndriven Abbey.  Sophie has beautiful long red hair, and Bernard quickly makes it obvious he's attracted to her--and her red hair.  

Sophie is only 17, and this is a teen book.  This is what I kept reminding myself of as I read it.  She's not going to have the smarts to get the heck out of dodge when she first starts to feel something is not right.  And she's young enough to be persuaded by an older, charismatic gentleman to stay and keep enjoying the lush life she's experiencing.  I imagine I would have done the same thing at 17.  But Sophie does slowly come out of her "crush" on Bernard and begins to realize underneath his charm Bernard is cruel, vicious, and not someone she wants to marry.

But Bernard has a way of getting what he wants.  Can Sophie figure out what's going on, and save herself before the net closes around her?  Will her actions hurt other people who are trying to help her?  

So read this novel knowing the storyline is based on a fairy tale.  You read it purely for enjoyment.  The descriptions of Wyndriven Abbey really are pretty spectacular, and the setting in Mississippi is perfectly toned to provide the creep factor required--all the beauty of nature, and underneath the smell of decay, bogs, and rot.  Bernard is a gorgeous man, but looks can be deceiving!

Rating:  6/10; loved the setting and the description; no surprises here.  Sophie starts out slow, but finally finds her inner strength.

Available in hardcover, audio, and e-book.

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