Tuesday, March 26, 2013

{Fairy Tale Fortnight} Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

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Publisher: Random House
Release Date: March 12th, 2013
Genre: Historical Fairy Tale Retelling
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Challenge(s): Debut Author, Fairy Tales, NetGalley

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 a complex, beautiful, disturbing book that excelled in every way. Jane Nickerson was able to reimagine a classic tale that sent many of us to bed with nightmares, and set it in the surprising world of pre-civil war Mississippi. This combination seems beyond strange at first, but soon it’s clear just how perfect it really is.

The writing was so rich and vivid. I could feel the sweat dripping down my face as I read about the sweltering hot summer. I felt Sophia’s initial attraction to Bernard, despite knowing what would be coming next, and later on her unease. In many ways I was inside Sophia’s head. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a surreal experience while reading a book.

Bernard was a terrifying character. When the reader is first introduced to him, you can tell there’s a little something off about him, but you’re not quite sure what. And while the reader is trying to figure out what the heck is up with him, he’s using his impressive acting skills to enchant Sophia, who’s slowly falling for him. But once she falls, she realizes she’s stuck in a deep, dark hole. After Bernard has ensured that she won’t leave, his true colors begin to show, and Sophia finds herself in the middle of shocking abusive relationship.

Even through all that comes from living with Bernard, Sophia remained strong. She starts off somewhat shallow and innocent, but she quickly begins to mature and quietly begin to develop some independence. There were some points where Bernard was pushing her far out of her comfort-zone, but she still managed to keep her voice, when others would’ve gone silent.

The book started off rather slowly, which I know can turn some readers off, but I enjoyed the slow but steady pace which provided the reader a chance to get to know the characters before the pace picks up and strands of mystery begin unraveling (I just had to do it). My only complaint is that I was able to predict the majority of what happened because of being familiar with Bluebeard beforehand, but that’s my problem. It was an extremely faithful retelling, but luckily Jane still had a few tricks up her sleeve.

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Moderate sexual content and mature themes

[Bernard is very fond of Sophia in that way. There’s kissing, mild touching, and very close to the end he practically rapes Sophia. Beyond that, he’s a brainwashing and controlling jerk who indoctrinates Sophia with lies and falsehoods, especially revolving around what a healthy relationship is. She’s able to discern some of it, but it still takes a toll on her emotional and mental health.]

4 comments:

  1. Love reading your reviews and adding new books to my ever growing to read list.

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  2. God, it's so cool seeing my banner pop up places! lol
    I'll be reviewing this one VERY soon, so I won't say too much, but I agree, the slow pace worked for me.

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  3. Hmmm.... I'm ok with slow books, but the 'moderate mature content' part.... I think I'll have to find a library copy before deciding to buy :D

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    Replies
    1. I'm definitely not a fan of "mature content" either, but I don't mind it as much if it's used in an appropriate way, which I feel it is in this book. I hope you do get the chance to check it out soon!

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