Bluebeard Retold: A Review of STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD by Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold (Strands of Bronze and Gold, #1) 
Jane Nickerson
352 pages
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: March 12th, 2013
Source: ARC from Publisher

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.

   Having never heard of the Bluebeard fairytale, STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD was a real treat. It was one of those books with a vague synopsis on the back with a gorgeous cover, and I was all sorts of excited – because I love being surprised. Set in the blazing heat of the south, in a mansion way back in the era of slaves working endlessly in plantations, STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD was more than good – it was undeniably unique.

   Jane Nickerson debuts with a work of historical young adult fiction that delivers. The plot was slow moving, allowing the surroundings and the characters to grow on me, slowly but surely giving life to a world within the pages. And just as slowly as the magic builds in Sophie’s world, the darkness unfolds – only faster.

   I knew something was wrong when Sophie first sights on her new home, but I never imagined the extent of it. The horror of it.

   Nevertheless, STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD had some truly beautiful moments. Moments where I felt sorrow for her godfather, where I felt dazzled by the beauty of the world he so-selflessly (or selfishly?) provided Sophie with. The dresses, the tales of lands far off, the rooms decorated with utmost creativity (there’s even one inspired by the ocean – complete with a sea-shell bed!) made Nickerson’s debut shine with a well-developed world I could clearly imagine.

   And then there was Sophie. She was so easy to understand. She realized the dangers just as I did, she had the same curiosities that crossed my mind. And when the danger became evident to me, it became the same to her. What I loved most was Sophie’s sudden bravery and maturity of the last pages.

   All in all, I am truly excited to see what happens in book two. STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD reads like a standalone, with a beautiful ending, so I guess I’m more curious than anything else!


Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.



  1. Reply

    Jessica Brooks (coffeelvnmom)

    March 7, 2013

    OOH I have been seeing so much about this! Glad you liked it. Off to make sure it's on my Goodreads list…

  2. Reply

    beth dean

    March 7, 2013

    I've been so interested in this because of the Bluebeard reference that I'm so glad somebody thinks it's good. Angela Carter also retold Bluebeard which is why I'd heard of it before. It's included in The Bloody Chamber, which I reviewed here… If you could check it out it would be much appreciated.

  3. Reply

    Randi M

    March 8, 2013

    I am very excited to read this! I fell in love with that cover and the Bluebeard angle sounds unlike any other book I've read. I'm glad you really liked it! The description you mention makes me even more anxious to read it. Great review!

  4. Reply

    Jenea Whittington

    March 8, 2013

    I, like you, I haven't heard of the Blue Beard tale, but I think this sounds awesome. I am definitely going to have to get this.

  5. Reply


    March 8, 2013

    I've been seeing this book around lately and it really has piqued my interest. Sounds like a great Blue Beard re-telling.

  6. Reply

    Nikki R

    March 9, 2013

    I hadn't heard of this one yet, but it's definitely going on my to-read list. it sounds great!

  7. Reply


    March 10, 2013

    like you, i have not read anything related to the series but your review has me intrigued about it.

  8. Reply

    Jasmine Rose

    March 12, 2013

    The first time I heard about the Bluebeard fairytale was reading Kill Me Softly, and I became a little obsessed afterward. There's just something fascinating about the disturbing horror of the tale. Yes, I'm aware that's pretty morbid :P I don't read a lot of historical books, so I'm glad I read your review or I probably would have overlooked this one!

  9. Reply


    March 19, 2013

    Wow, this sounds pretty dang good! I'm okay with slow buildups if it gives us time to appreciate the characters more. Especially if the payoff is good like in this one! Ah, excellent – really great review!!

  10. Reply

    Tammy Sparks

    April 15, 2013

    I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. It's on my list to read, but I have read a few mixed reviews, so I was a little worried. Thanks for the review, I'm definitely going to read it now:)