Thursday, January 24, 2013

Will You Be The Next Wife Of The Dude Who's Not Henry VIII?

Expected Publication: March 12th, 2013
Strands of Bronze and Gold (Strands of Bronze and Gold # 1)
By: Jane Nickerson
Random House Children's Books
ISBN-13: 9780307975980

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.


     Sophia Petheram's beloved Father has just died, leaving her and her siblings on the verge of destitution.  She receives an invitation to live with her mysterious Godfather, Bernard de Cressac, who lives in splendor on a plantation in Mississippi.  Once she's there, Sophie is enchanted by the beautiful gifts, and undivided attention that she receives.  But there are dark mysteries at the plantation as well, such as what really happened to Bernard's five dead wives.  And why is the ruined chapel kept locked, with no one allowed to enter into it?  Not too soon after arriving, Sophie realizes that Bernard is practically holding her prisoner, not allowing her out of the house to meet anyone but the servants, and holding back letters from her when it suits him to do so.  Almost overnight Bernard's demeanor changes to that of a jealous lover and Sophie is left to wonder if she will ever make it home again.  Will she be the next to die?  Never having read the original story of Bluebeard, this is the second retelling that I have put my hands and eyes upon.  I liked Sophie's snarky, yet sweet personality.  Her curious nature endeared her to me, because she refused to just blindly accept whatever Bernard told her and what everyone else wanted her to do.  The gradual descent into total isolation, dependence and abusive behavior is chilling in  just how believable it is written.  The depiction of the slaves and the treatment of them is unfortunate, but more than likely true in most cases of 19th century slavery.  Sophie's attitudes were great, but I echo similar sentiments to other readers that sometimes the slaves just seemed like plot devices and extra bodies for Sophie to meet/converse with.  Her relationship with the Reverend was intriguing and the developing of feelings for him was sweet and very old fashioned - in other words, tonally perfect for the novel.  The climax of the novel chilled my blood and was definitely gruesome enough to fit what little I know of the original tale.    One of my few complaints is the clinical nature the last few pages of the book took on, kind of 'where are they now' type of thing to try and tie up loose ends.  Overall, an interesting retelling and definitely one of the better offerings of recent YA fairy tale re-tellings.

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

*received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is March 12th, 2013.*

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