Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and GoldStrands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
Series: Strands of Bronze and Gold #1
Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers on March 12, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Retelling
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★½

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.

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.

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson - He wanted me to have only him

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.

The Verdict


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  1. Aw man, it sucks that you didn’t enjoy this one more. I can definitely see where you’re coming from – the plot definitely is not an action-packed one, to say the least! Lol

    I really enjoyed the slow buildup though, watching Sophie struggle with her naiveté and the experience she was actually having with Bernard, and my ignorance of the Bluebeard tale probably helped since I had no clue where the story was going!

    Kelly recently posted: Keeping Up With the Blogosphere!
  2. EEK Ashley I’m sorry you didn’t like this one as much as you wanted to! I would totally be completely bored out of my mind if I had to read basically the same thing OVER and OVER and OVER again. I feel your pain *pats*

    And I’ve never read the book this is supposed to be a retelling of, so I wonder if that’ll make me like it better.

    *wanders off to ponder*

    Eileen @ ***Singing and Reading in the Rain*** recently posted: Blogger Interview: Citrus Reads
    1. Yeah I think that was one of the big downfalls for me. I actually had never heard of Bluebeard either, but I decided to look up the basic plot of the story before reading the book, and maybe that ended up ruining it for me. Because as soon as I read the plot of Bluebeard, it’s like I knew the entire plot of Strands of Bronze and Gold!!

      So maybe you’ll end up enjoying the book more if you don’t know anything about Bluebeard, and don’t make the same mistake I did and Google it!!

  3. Ooh, how interesting that you found the Bluebeard-retelling aspect to work against the story. I was personally afraid that would happen. Retellings don’t seem to work out quite as often because the reader can’t help but have expectations. Instalove is another huge issue, one that drives me insane no matter how good the rest of the book is. So while the writing sounds lovely and the historical setting sounds interesting, I’d probably feel similarly to you about this one.

    Renae @ Respiring Thoughts recently posted: This Week In Books (3/3/13-3/10/13)
  4. Oh no!!! I want to cry now:( I was so looking forward to reading a historical YA fiction that was written in this century!!!

  5. I’m disappointed to hear that you didn’t think this book worked so well. I do think you make a valid point here – in that anyone who is familiar with the Bluebeard story is going to know what to expect and the twists won’t be as surprising. What I love about a good retelling is that authors take the base story and do MORE and UNEXPECTED THINGS with it to make it fresh and new and exciting (and more action, in this particular case). I think perhaps Nickerson tries to do that with the historical fiction bend, but perhaps it’s not successful enough. I still do plan on reading it myself, so I am curious as to what I’ll think!

    Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books recently posted: In My Mailbox #12
  6. Ugh, there’s nothing worse than going into a book that should be action-filled only to have nothing happen. Combine that with insta-love, and I’m proud of you for making it through this one! *shakes head* It makes me glad I decided to wait on this one.

    Molli recently posted: You Had Me From Hello…

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