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Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson AND Bluebeard


Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
Publisher: Listening Library
Publication date: March 2013
Length: 12 hrs, 28 min
Source: Audiobook from Library
For: YA Audiobook Challenge

Summary of Strands from goodreads:
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.
Things I Liked (about both):
I really enjoyed falling into the sort of creepy fairy tale feel of Strands.  Watching Sophia try to figure things out was both frustrating and fascinating.  I was especially creeped out by her tendency to forget what bad things her guardian had done just a little bit before.  It wasn't unbelievable, but rather terrifying.  I was intrigued throughout, especially as I hadn't read Bluebeard before.  I got a hold of two different Bluebeard fairy tales after that.  What a creepy fairy tale!  Definitely one of the more depressing and horrifying fairy tales I've read.  One of the versions sort of glossed over the gory details, but there isn't much you can do to cover up a husband who kills off multiple wives.  The other original telling was quite creepy and Strands could have really drawn on that, but I think fell short.  Strange, fascinating, and disturbing are very good descriptors for this tale.

Things I Didn't Like (about both):
I had some issues with Strands.  I wasn't really fond of the narrator, Caitlin Prennace, though she kind of grew on me (her drawn out s's were annoying).  The book didn't really start to be creepy until the very end, which I thought was a waste of all that building up.  Could have been more suspenseful and scary.  One thing I never would have noticed if I hadn't read Bookshelves of Doom's review is the fact that Sophia didn't talk like someone in that time period would, while the slaves and some others did.  It was jarring, but I probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise.  Overall, I thought it was good, but not outstanding.  Also, Bluebeard is not exactly an endearing fairy tale, what with the murdering of wives and all that.  Glad I got a chance to read an unfamiliar fairy tale, but sometimes I just need one that is a bit happier (ok, I know most of the originals were quite depressing and disturbing, but still).

Read-alikes:
Here's a list of some other really good fairy tale retellings

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS (for Strands):
s-factor: !
a few mild ones

mrg-factor: X
mostly innuendo, though some rather sensual moments

v-factor: ->->
mostly just disturbing, but there is some gore near the end

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

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