Strands of Bronze and Gold is a re-telling of the Bluebeard Grimm tale. Like most other Grimm tales it is less fairy princess and more dark, gritty, mysterious story. The re-telling was no different. I was constantly wondering what would happen next and how the main character was going to escape her situation.
The novel begins with Sophia joining her godfather M. Bernard at his home in Mississippi after her father passes away. Sophia is sad to leave her sister and brothers but also excited to meet her mysterious godfather for the first time. Sophia initially enjoys her time at the Abbey and all of the lavish gifts M. Bernard bestows on her. Soon he begins to show his true colors though, and that is when the mystery revs up.
I truly enjoyed the setting in this novel. The abbey as well as the Southern setting felt very real. I could feel the oppressive heat and the moss in the trees. I could see the dark attic of the abbey when Sophia explored. I also liked that Jane Nickerson kept the time period in mind. The characters always acted in ways that would be appropriate of a lady and gentleman and when a social taboo was broken the characters noticed. It was attention to detail like this that really made me love Strands of Bronze and Gold.
I also liked the characters, especially Sophia. She came to the abbey young and naïve and through her stay she finds her own inner strength. Sophia ends up saving those around her and becoming a true heroine. I also really liked the secondary characters M. Bernard was both devilishly handsome and slightly evil (my favorite mix). He confused me throughout the novel and I was never sure exactly how I felt about him until the end. I also loved Gideon, I know you’re cringing at the potential of there being a love triangle right now, so I will put your fears at ease there is no true love triangle. Gideon was everything a fine Southern gentleman should be and I loved that he acted realistically in the constraints society had placed on him.
Another pleasant surprise I had when reading this book is that it dealt with the Underground Railroad and the slave trade. Not many YA books tackle this topic, even other books that are set in this time frame. I liked that Sophia and her sister had strong feelings on the subject and that Sophia tries to do what she can to help the cause. Slavery was so prominent in the south at this time that I was glad it was integrated in to the story so well.
Overall, I really enjoyed Strands of Bronze and Gold it was not only a great re-telling but a great piece of historical fiction as well. I can’t wait to read more from this debut author!