Series: Strands of Bronze and Gold #1
Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers on March 12, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Retelling
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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 âBluebeardâ fairy tale.
Strands of Bronze and Gold was written well and certainly had interesting elements, but unfortunately the majority of the book was boring. The problem is that once Sophia arrives at the Abbey, Bernard doesn’t let her go anywhere or do anything. As such, 95% of the book takes place in the Abbey. Sophia wanders around, has dinner with Bernard, and explores a little. And 352 pages of that just gets uninteresting really quickly. There are long, drawn out periods where I literally felt like there was no action and no plot development. Sophia slowly learns that Bernard has a temper, but that’s the only real sense of development.
To some people, Strands of Bronze and Gold might be a creepy read, but I actually wasn’t that creeped out by it. Maybe because I’m not a teenager and I have read much creepier adult books? I also feel like the fact that it’s advertised as a Bluebeard retelling worked against the book. I wonder if Strands of Bronze and Gold would have been more interesting if I didn’t go into it expecting Bernard to be a creepy wife-killer. If I didn’t know that from the start, maybe the ending would have been somewhat of a surprise instead of something I anticipated from the very beginning.
My other main problem with the book was the insta-love between Sophia and Gideon. Sophia meets another man in the woods (Gideon) and after like two meetings they are already “in love”. That was hard for me because Sophia began to cling onto her ‘love’ for Gideon like a beacon in the darkness of the Abbey, but I couldn’t relate to it or appreciate it at all.
On the bright side, I did think that Bernard was an interesting character. He was easily the most dynamic character in Strands of Bronze and Gold. Since he had a temper, you never quite know which side of him you were going to get. He could be sweet, charming, flirtatious, but also creepy, forward, demanding, controlling, and temperamental. But unfortunately, the dynamic characters stop here. The others were either uninteresting or popped in and out so much that I constantly forgot about them until they temporarily reappeared.
But the biggest downside of Strands of Bronze and Gold is just the lack of action. If it wasn’t so darn boring, I feel like this could have been a great book. It certainly has beautiful writing and I did like the historical elements of it. There are some connections to slavery and the Underground Railroad that I quite enjoyed reading about. But the fact that not much actually happened in the story is what makes me feel indifferent towards the whole thing. I just had no connection to it. It took me over a week to read it just because it couldn’t hold my attention.