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Posted by on Mar 7, 2013 in Review | 66 comments

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
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: March 12, 2013
Genre: Historical Fairy-tale Retelling
Source: publisher
Purchase*: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository

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.

As a young child I read the Grimm’s fairy tales and they are so much darker then the versions most of our children read today. I was terrified of Bluebeard and slept with a nightlight. This was quite embarrassing for a ten year old and I remember claiming to simply have fallen asleep while reading. I love retellings and when I saw Strands of Bronze and Gold, I knew I had to revisit this dark tale. Nickerson did a lovely job and Monsieur de Cressac personified Bluebeard and made me shiver.

The tale takes place in America before the end of slavery at Wyndriven Abbey in Mississippi. Seventeen year old Sophia Petheram has recently lost her father and receives a letter from her Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather to come and live in his home since he has been appointed her legal guardian. Her older siblings are left to deal with the financial burden their father’s loss has thrust upon them. At first Sophia’s enchanted with her handsome godfather and all that his home offers but soon she grows lonely. She quickly learns that her godfather wants to keep her separate from others, is extremely jealous and suffers violent mood swings. As she unravels the mysteries of this complex man she quickly finds herself trapped with no escape from the monstrous side of her godfather.

Sophia is a red-headed beauty with an inquisitive mind. Throughout the novel this gets her into trouble, reveals clues and introduces her to some interesting characters. While she is naïve she is also brave, clever and strong. Her sense of loyalty to her family and her indebtedness to Monsieur Bernard bring her trouble. I adored how she treated the servants and slaves at the Abbey. Because her godfather has always provided Sophia with gifts since her childhood, she at first sees only the good in him and imagines herself a little in love. Have you ever met a man who beats and verbally abuses his wife; a man who comes from a good home, is financially successful and devilishly handsome? These men have many faces, they are witty and charming, admired by men and adored by woman. Beneath that facade lies a monster and this is Monsieur Bernard. He is handsome and endearing; his words whisper only kindness but reek with something sour and sinister. The young French maid, the preacher and the young slave couple all add to the tale. Sophia’s siblings force her to make decisions against her wishes and you truly feel for her.

Nickerson weaves a deliciously dark, Gothic tale and while I was not scared enough to keep the lights on, the tension slowly built throughout the tale keeping me on edge. The last part of the book was climatic and I turned the pages at a dizzy pace in fear for Sophia. I think those who aren’t familiar with the classic will enjoy the twists and find it quite surprising. After having read the original tale this was somewhat predictable, but the author added her own voice to the tale, and changed up the ending a bit. The author’s writing is beautiful, had excellent pacing and all the threads came together. I loved how the title was woven into the tale and it fit beautifully.

Fans of retellings, Gothic tales and suspense thrillers will adore Strands of Bronze and Gold. The Mirk and the Midnight Hour is the next book in the Strands of Gold trilogy and will release in 2013. The third book the Twisted Trees will release in 2014. I for one cannot wait to read them.

Four cups of French Roast coffee out of five

Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba The Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer


Copyright (c) 2011-2013 Caffeinated Book Reviewer


  1. You made me shiver! Really looking forward to this book after your review, Kimba! I always enjoyed Bluebeard’s story and have been fascinated for years by the speculations that he was based on a real historical character Gilles de Retz (I butchered that name I’m sure), one of loyal marshals of Joan of Arc…

  2. You said the “G” word – gothic – so this is going to be a total buy for me. I barely remember reading Bluebeard (I was more into the Dancing Princesses-type fairy tales), so this will mostly be a surprise to me. Your review already has me shivering – perfect!

  3. The Bluebeard fairytale is so creeepy! I’ve seen a few movie remakes and they were disturbing! LOL Glad it keeps you on edge and things were changed up enough to keep it interesting.

  4. I’ve been on the fence about this one as I was afraid it’d be more historical than fairytale. I’ve found I’m really enjoying the retells lately though. :) Thank you.

  5. I haven’t read the original so I think I’ll have to try this one. It sounds just the right amount of dark and creepy. I also really want to start reading more Historical Fiction!

  6. This sounds right up my alley… I haven’t read the original story, so I’ll go into this one completely blind. I love the dark retellings though. Awesome review.

  7. this would be good for you, since it’s historical but more character driven.

  8. I remember reading the Grimm fairytales too! But my reaction is completely opposite, LOL! Bluebeard was always my favorite, and I absolutely love reading fairytale retellings– my most recent was Kill Me Softly! :D

    I like that you say she’s “Brave, clever and strong”. That makes her sound like my favorite kind of character. Fab review, Kimba! (:

  9. As you know, I’ve been waiting for this one. Given your review, I’m bumping it higher on the TBR list. Now if only I can persuade my library to get a copy…

  10. She is a delightful mix and I liked seeing her come into her own

  11. An inquisitive mind will surely get a girl into trouble even today so I can only imagine what poor Sophia had to suffer through. :)) You used all the right words in this one, Kimberly: deliciously dark, Gothic, dizzy pace… I already had this beauty on my wishlist but now I’ll hurry up and read it as soon as it gets here.

  12. I’ve seen this book around and I was considering getting a copy from the library maybe. I’m so glad to hear that this book worked for you Kim. I like that Sophia is inquisitive. I love books that are filled with tension and twists. A book that surprises is you is the best kind of book.
    Fab review, Kim!

  13. The Blackbeard tale is quite terrifying really, especially for children! I had a huge book of Grimm tales when I was younger and the pictures alone were pretty scary!
    This sounds awesome! I think I would really like it. I love dark gothic settings. Really, there aren’t a lot out there, especially in the YA genre.

  14. I am stoked about the whole series and my Grimm’s copy was very old and illustrated and Yes, I would read late at night with a flashlight…eep!

  15. This sounds so good! The Bluebeard fairy tale is a disturbing one isn’t it? Used to frighten me too. Sounds like this is a good retelling, will definitely add it to my To Read List. :-) Great review!

  16. Now I’m glad that I’m not familiar with the original tale – it will make this book more exciting!

  17. Good, although knowing isn’t any less suspenseful..cause you know and you are waiting for events to unfold..LOL

  18. a few of my followers are on waiting lists at their library *fingers-crossed*

  19. If only my library would get it! But so far, they haven’t — despite my suggesting it twice.

  20. I don’t think I know the story of Bluebeard but it does sound quite interesting & it has all of the elements I quite enjoy! This one might be the YA Historical I have been looking for ;)

    A great review Kimba!

  21. I liked this one too. I loved not only how she treated the slaves, but that it wasn’t easy for her to help. She wants to help them escape, but they can’t trust her. Nickerson didn’t make the setting simple.

  22. this isn’t heavy on historical deets, so you should be fine :)

  23. Uh, what the hell… Bluebeard doesn’t sound familiar. I think I need to go look that up. This sounds good though. I like a slow build tension.

  24. I don’t know much about the Bluebeard tale, but I really like the sound of this book. I’ll have to grab it soon!

  25. this was a good read Sam, hope you get to try it and would love to hear your take on it

  26. those arc and tbr piles *sighs* so many books so little time!

  27. Well now that would be a conundrum now wouldn’t it….how to escape! *-* Great review as usual…thanks for the share!

  28. I think I might have this one and I just kind of forgot about it. I do love gothic stories though and your review has me much more interested! I’m going to go check and see if I do have it…

  29. I am assuming by your user id that you have a blog on books for kids, what is the link, so I can return the love!

  30. Oh I am going to have to give this a whirl. I think after Cinder/Scarlet I am more open to fairy tail retellings. Plus I love historical based stories :)

  31. Oh wow! Awesome review! Very much looking forward to this one! Don’t think I’ve read the Bluebeard tale in many many years, but remember the gist of it! So can’t wait to read this!

  32. I’m reading this one now, and loving it! So creepy!! I agree, the writing is beautiful. I’m only vaguely familiar with the classic story, so hopefully the ending will surprise me. :-) Beautiful review!

  33. Great review! I have a review copy of this one as well. Glad it’s a good read :)

  34. Did not even realize this one has Gothic undertones. Not sure I read one in a while, but it sounds different and interesting. Love fairy tale retellings.

  35. I loved the Gothic undertones and hope you get a chance to read this one Lily :)

  36. I read a Bluebird retelling last year, the name is escaping me know Kill Me Softly I think it was, anyway that was the first time I ran across the Bluebeard Fairy tale, I know where have I been. I was wanting to read this and stupied me didnt’ follow up on the ARC request, oh well I have so many books to read, but still I love Gothic fairy tale retellings and I am all about beautiful writing so I really need to check this out.

  37. that is ok, Killing Me Softly is in my tbr pile..somewhere!

  38. Glad to hear it Ellen, I was pleased and hope you enjoy it.

  39. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book! I have read several reviews on it and they all seem to think highly of the novel. I love a good page turner and a book full of secrets. I haven’t read a good thriller in a while and I think it’s about time.

  40. Enjoy Kay, I was delighted and look forward to the next book.

  41. I’m about 30 pages from the end and I am really enjoying Strands of Bronze and Gold. I agree with everything you mentioned in your review. I especially love the way she captured the dark and mysterious style that always makes me think of fairy tales.

  42. Yes, excited to hear I am not alone! I am really looking forward to the next one

  43. Ahhhh! I can’t wait to read this! Everyone seems to be loving it and that means I need to pick it up asap. I’m only familiar with the basics of the Bluebeard story, so I’m excited to get into the details of it with this story. I’m nervous for Sophia already!

  44. Enjoy Jenny and I am glad to hear others liked it..i need to read some other reviews!

  45. I re-read it as an adult and loved it, but at ten i was a little freaked out. Killing Me Softly is on my nook..eep!

  46. Cool..enjoy and I cannot wait to hear what you think going in blind!

  47. Bluebeard was one tale I wasn’t familiar with (I think the ‘rents hid it from me or something). So I ran to Wiki to look it up and OH MY GOSH! Why hasn’t this been retold a 1000x before?!?!? …or has it? ;) I don’t know if I spoiled it but this sounds absolutely fabulous for a retelling!!! I’d love to see the climatic ending rewritten, even if it was close to the same. Great review! I’m adding this to that pile I loathe and won’t speak it’s name…

  48. I do not think you can spoil it, either way creates tension..and Yea at 10 this freaked me out!

  49. This one intrigues me and I just adore the cover

  50. I just started this book today! I have actually never read the original story, so I’m kind of looking forward to reading this book without any previous knowledge of the plot. Great review! I love that you mentioned how Sophia is naive, but brave and strong. Her godfather sounds like a piece of work. :)