Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Romance, Thriller Publication.Date March 12th 2013 Pages: 352 Published By: Random House Children's Books Website Jane Nickerson
Strands of Bronze and Gold on Goodreads My review copy: E-galley of the book received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:
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.
I couldn't remember a time when thoughts of him didn't send a silvery little thrill through my body. He was a mystery and a magician and all my family's hopes for the future rolled into one. Soon, when the carriage covered the last miles of our journey, I would meet him at last - my godfather and guardian, Monsieur Bernard de Cressac.
It was as if the world here were coated with glamour, as in some fairy tales, with nothing really as it seemed.
"But tell me," he continued, "will you not call me Bernard?""I should like to oblige, sir, but would it be fitting when you stand in place of a father to me?""The devil with "fitting". It is what I wish, and I warn you I am persistent in getting what I want."
I love scary books set against beautiful historical backgrounds, filled with lush prose, deliciously creepy gothic atmosphere and archaic language. Dark secrets, locked rooms, a breath-taking (and secluded) abbey filled with rich tapestries and ornate paintings - Strands Of Bronze and Gold has all that and more! It's a very slow-paced book, but the languid pacing works surprisingly well here, allowing the reader to really soak up all the dazzling descriptions and inhale the dusty air of this intriguing yet spooky place. This fantastic retelling of the Blue Beard fairytale is just as enthralling as it is deeply bone-chilling, and just as magical as it is realistic.
Shortly after her father passes away, seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram receives a letter from her wealthy godfather, Bernard de Cressac, inviting her to "sweeten the atmosphere of an old man's dwelling" with her "companionship, youth, and beauty". Facing financial problems, Sophia and her siblings find themselves in a rather difficult position, and so Sophia accepts the invitation in hopes of receiving support from the generous family friend. Unfortunately, things don't exactly turn out the way she envisioned.
It starts with small, seemingly harmless wishes and demands, but quickly escalates to a very dangerous situation. As soon as Sophie arrives at the abbey, de Cressac asks her to come out of the mourning and stop wearing black. Not a big deal, and yet it shows his need to control her right from the get-go. It also shows how little he thinks about her feelings and how insensitive he is to her loss. With every day, de Cressac becomes more and more insistent, strict and demanding. Easily irritable, moody and controlling. Sophia is not allowed to go to Church on Sunday, she can't socialize too much (and especially not with other men), and the stray cat she was secretly feeding turns up dead (and not long after de Cressac forbids Sophia from taking care of it). Little by little, de Cressac's true self is starting to reveal itself, painting a very disturbing, blood-chilling picture. And the secrets she's about to uncover will put her life in danger.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was mesmerizing to see the world through Sophia's eyes, even though she did strike me as very naive and weak at times. She thought very highly of de Cressac. In her mind he's both a saint and an adventurous knight - handsome, muscular and good-hearted. He's always been "there" to support her family financially, sending gifts and beautiful letters. He charmed her and it took her quite a long time to finally see through his lies. The situation she found herself in was truly hopeless and I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. I definitely became emotionally invested in her story.
It certainly isn't an action-packed novel, but it's captivating and heart-pounding nevertheless. If you're looking for a story with swiftly moving plot line, full of twists and turns, and exciting new developments - this is probably not the book for you. If, however, you want to read a book that will slowly seduce you with its beautiful language, phenomenal settings and incredible atmosphere - read Strands Of Bronze and Gold as soon as possible, you'll love it! I guess my only complaint would be the abrupt ending. I felt that up to the last few pages the build up was really great, things were getting pretty intense and my heart was pounding like crazy and... and then it just ended. I must admit, it left me just a tiny bit disappointed. Other than that, though, I really couldn't have loved this book more and am now pining for the next book in the series!