Publisher's Note:  

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.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Random House Children's Books

Strands of Bronze and Gold

by Jane Nickerson

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Overall Review:  

The cover of Strands of Bronze and Gold was simply too captivating to resist.  This novel is a retelling of the French folktale Bluebeard, not to be confused with Blackbeard the pirate.  It truly is a folktale rather than a fairy tale; there is no magic, but rather gothic mystery and dark passion.  It is obvious to the reader from the beginning pages that all is not right; however, the heroine, 17-year-old Sophia is a little slow on the uptake.  She seems a bit shallow and bedazzled by beautiful clothes and material things while constantly justifying actions.  Things move slowly while the reader waits for the protagonist to catch up to the direness of the situation.  Only when Sophia finally realizes the dangerous situation does the story become interesting.  The plot then gains some tension from the question, "How is the heroine going escape?"  This is a novel for those who enjoy lovely clothing, as there are abundant descriptions, and a darker romance.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  1 derogatory name


Violence/Gore:  Report of deaths in childbirth; report of a suicide; report of death by illness; character is cruel to an animal to discipline it; a scene in which a slave is beaten by master (few details); an animal found after it was hung until dead; wrenching and grabbing of arms; a character is slapped and nose bleeds; report of a beating; reports of murder; long-dead bodies/remains are found, brief description; a character is killed violently (stated, no details); character is stabbed and injured, mention of blood; a character is severely injured, mention of blood; report of a death.


Sex/Nudity:  Reference to breasts; nudity in some art/paintings/statues; implied affair between married woman and younger unmarried man; passionate kiss; reference to someone as a trollop; character wonders about mistress status; innuendo when two characters exit stable while adjusting clothing; character licks another's fingers; innuendo; report of a master forcing self sexually on a slave (no details); brief scene of aggressive kissing and groping without a character's consent.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death, Murder, Slavery, Emotional/Physical Abuse, Financial distress/difficulties, Infidelity

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Adults drink port, wine, etc. with dinner. 17-year-old drinks mead with dinner.  Adults smoke.  An adult character smells of whiskey and drinks to excess.

Reviewed By Cindy
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