Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Strands of Bronze and Gold
by Jane Nickerson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars (but really more like 3.5 . . .)

Strands of Bronze and Gold  has a slow simmering suspense that is successful--I think that because you already know how the story goes so you can enjoy the ride, looking for small hints and manifestations of the macabre in the characters and plot. This book also has a dark undercurrent--enough that it could go from picturesque and fascinating to suddenly chilling.

The pre-Civil War South and Wyndriven Abbey were so atmospheric and while they aren't the typical settings for the Bluebeard story, the extra historical fiction flavor they added was well-matched to the story and the controlling, secretive Bluebeard character. Some of the description parts are a little slow, but they do ultimately serve the plot in adding more to the story and characters. The well-imagined main characters of Sophia and Bernard had a lot of depth and the author took the time to explore the dynamic between the two of them--the charming and the naivete, the controlling and the curiosity, that is part of the Bluebeard story.

I think the ending would have been better without the last chapter. Instead, leave it as she is running into the preacher as she emerges from the woods . . . have the suspense that is present throughout carried through the ending. All those extra details and explanation are out of touch and paced differently from the rest of the story and it throws it off.

Recommended for fans of Monstrous Beauty, The Scorpio Races, The Madman's Daughter, Tiger Lily, The Raven Boys, Midwinterblood . . . wow, I'm kind of realizing now how many slightly dark and chilling retellings of traditional tales there are out there. It's definitely a fun and entertaining genre.

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