Strands of Bronze and Gold
Author: Jane Nickerson
Publication: March 12th, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling
Read: December 2015
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram has been sheltered by her doting family all her life, until the day her father dies. It’s 1855, and with no money and few options, she goes to live with her guardian, the mysterious Bernard de Cressac, at the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey in 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 woven around her. And when she begins glimpsing the ghosts of his former wives (all with hair as red as her own) in the forgotten corners and dark hallways of the Abbey, Sophie knows she’s in de Cressac’s trap.
With enchanting romance, chilling suspense, and dashes of the supernatural, Strands of Bronze and Gold is a compulsively readable debut.
Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
This whole book just dragged on forever for me. It felt too long right from the beginning, there were pages given to huge descriptions of where they were living and I was just not for it. There were some exciting moments but those were few and far in between the creepy stuff and the generally boring stuff. It was just not for me.
Writing Style – 2 out of 5 stars
I think this was the biggest problem for me. Ignoring the slowness of the plot could’ve been easy if the writing had hooked me right in but it didn’t. There was too much description and it was a little bit disjointed. I’d be reading about something and there would be a random sentence talking about something else right in the middle of the paragraph. It was simple but in the negative way where it feels like it lacked substance and excitement. It was just boring and it made it really hard for me to get through the book.
Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
Another point where I just wasn’t connecting. Our main character Sophie annoyed me right off the bat. Her father has just died and she’s shipped off miles away and all she’s thinking about is how rich her godfather is going to be and how much she’s going to hate his wife. She’s self-centered and naive about life, specially in Mississippi at the time of slaves. There were some moments where I liked her but the majority of the time she was just stupid to be honest. There were so many huge warning signs flashing at her the whole time and she still had no clue and was just very passive and submissive. Bernard was just plain crazy. He’s a very charming man but incredibly manipulative which are the signs of a sociopath, if you didn’t know. It was an obvious thing though, not only for me but for everyone else, except for Sophie. I just wanted to shake her and yell at her. If she would’ve been just a bit more proactive and the book would’ve been shorter, I might’ve liked it more but that was not the case.
I knew from the first chapter of this book that I was not going to like it. Why did I keep reading? So I could feel capable of rating this book appropriately and writing this review coherently.
The plot was boring. We follow a young girl named Sophie who after the death of her father, moves from Boston to Mississippi to live with her godfather. Pretty simple in context but this is supposed to be a retelling of the fairytale Bluebeard. I hadn’t heard of it before this book so before delving deep into the story, I went on Wikipedia and learned more about the fairytale. It’s very similar to 1,000 Nights, where this man named Bluebeard kills his wife, then he gets a new one and when she finds out about the dead one before her, he kills her too. So on and so forth, until a smart woman comes and manages to get help and kill him before he can kill her. That sounds really exciting and it leaves space open for interpretation but this retelling had nothing suspenseful about it. I didn’t like it. There was more time spent on describing the giant mansion and all the different dead wives, than on the actual retelling of the tale. There were a few subplots, dealing with the Underground Railroad and a minor romance, but there were more bothersome than helpful. I just wanted to get on with it. Such an interesting fairytale but the execution of the book made it boring and annoying. By the time we finally got to the retelling part and it got creepy and exciting, it was just too late for me to be interested and it still didn’t happen the way I wanted it to.
Sophie was an idiot. I’m sorry, I try not to be insulting while writing reviews because its unprofessional, but there’s no other word for her. She was too busy fawning over her godfather to realize what a creeper she was. And when she finally started putting the pieces together, she didn’t do anything proactive! She had this really gross and weird obsession with the dead wives, like keeping strands of their hair weird. I guess I should’ve seen it coming because of the title and all but all the ladies had red hair and she just thought itd be cool to put them all together and make a bracelet. What?
There was even hints and actions toward romance between Sophie and Bernard that literally disgusted me. I get it, its part of the plot but she should not want it! That’s so gross dude. To top it all off once she gets her brain cells back, she finds another guy and ITS SO INSTA LOVE. One of the worst cases I’ve ever seen of insta love to be honest. It just made an already bad feeling, worse where I was concerned.
I held out that maybe in the end that maybe she’d get her stuff together and fight for herself and kick that ass’ face in. But in my opinion, the ending wasn’t harsh enough. When it was finally getting good and suspenseful, it just stops very abruptly and we come back a few days or weeks later I think. It was such a letdown. I wanted Sophie to go from passive and weak to a strong powerful and decisive woman and that didn’t happen. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be trying anymore of Jane’s books because of how I couldn’t connect to her writing style.
So that’s it for this review! Let me know what you think and if you’ve read this book and what you thought about it. This is the first negative review I’ve shared on my blog and I feel like its something so important to talk about and share. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!