My rating: 3 of 5 stars
As shallow as it’s going to sound, what initially caught my interest about Strands of Bronze and Gold was the cover. Add in the historical setting (1855 Mississippi plantation), and I was intrigued.
I wasn’t familiar with the Bluebeard story before reading this book, but I was still able to guess pretty early on what had happened to all of Bernard’s wives. I wasn’t as turned off by the predictable plot as I normally would be, though, because one thing Nickerson did well was building the tension between Sophie’s initial impressions of Bernard and what the reality becomes as she finds more and more evidence of there being something strange afoot at Wyndriven Abbey. Add in the delightfully creepy atmosphere of Wyndriven Abbey, and what Strands of Bronze and Gold was, more than a retelling, was a deliciously creepy tale that I was glad I didn’t read late at night.
The setting was my favorite part of this book. Strands of Bronze and Gold is set in Mississippi just a few years before the Civil War, and I thought all the tensions between Sophie’s thoughts and feelings on slavery and what she had to adjust to was nicely done. There was a whole subplot about the Underground Railroad that did a lot to add depth to the story and make it more than a retelling. I loved how well the elements of the original story (which, yes, I looked up on Wikipedia later) and the historical setting blended together.
There was one aspect of the story that fell flat for me, and that was the characters. I didn’t connect with Sophie very much, although there were a couple of times she said things that really resonated with me and made me feel sorry for her. And I never liked Bernard – he was very creepy, and not in a good way. And Gideon, the pastor Sophie meets, is nice, but I wasn’t overly enthused about him as a character.
Overall, I enjoyed Strands of Bronze and Gold for the setting and the creepy atmosphere that leapt off the page. I only wish the characters could’ve come to life that well.