Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Strands of Bronze and Gold ~ Jane Nickerson (earc) review

Strands of Bronze and Gold (Strands of Bronze & Gold #1)
Random House Children's Books
March 12, 2013
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

There are some great YA novels out this winter/spring based on old novels or fairy tales. First was The Madmam's Daughter inspired by HG Wells' The Island of Dr Moreau and now there's Strands of Bronze and Gold, a retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale.

It's always fun to read novels that are based on or inspired by or retellings of stories we already know but I loved that I wasn't already familiar with either of these tales. I loved not knowing what was going to come with each turn of the page.

Jane Nickerson has chosen a fantastic setting for Strands of Bronze and Gold. In 1855 after the death of her father, Sophia Pertheram leaves behind Boston and her siblings for a new life in Mississippi. Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather, has invited her to live with him at Wyndriven Abbey. Sophie goes expecting a life of luxury with de Cressac and his fine French wife.

What greets her is much different.

Though she is living a life much more luxurious than she could have hoped, the rest of life with her guardian is quite different than she expected. Isolated from the outside world, Sophia starts to long for someone other than de Cressac, even as his attention turn towards her. Attentions she's not sure she wants . . . and not sure she doesn't.

Then there's the matter of his past wives having red hair, red hair just like her.

Both the time in which Strands of Bronze and Gold as well as the geographical location add some quite interesting bits to the story. Sophia is a girl -- a young, unmarried young woman -- which limits the options available to her with those she deals with every day as well as with the world at large. There are times in the novel when, as a reader, you want Sophia to do something more, to take some other action but given the time -- and the location -- it's not feasible.

Slavery is also a part of the story. Not only does it, logically, bring characters into the story but it also allows readers to see traits of some characters we might not otherwise see. How different characters feel about slavery -- and the people themselves -- as well as the conflicts it creates among different characters is a great addition to the story and very fitting. With Sophia being from Boston and the story set in Mississippi, it works very well.

The tension in this story is quite incredible. As mentioned, you do want Sophia to do something at times but it's also understandable why she is not.That she can't and that so many things keep her so isolated and keep seeming to cage her in more and more, only serve to amp up the suspense.  The mystery of what's going to happen, where things will go for her, how she'll manage, is all great.

Along with that mystery and suspense, the relationships she builds with some fairly unlikely characters make the story even more enjoyable, add some hope for her, but also some worry, as well. Worry that something may happen to them for it.

It was a bit odd having Sophia always talking of her 'godfather,' especially as certain parts of the story developed, only because I kept reading it as grandfather. Aside form that, however, there wasn't much at all I didn't just love about this one. It didn't grab me right away but after that, it just kept on going and I had to know how it would all turn out!

Rating: 9/10

thank you to Random House & NetGalley for me egalley

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