Thursday, March 14, 2013

YA Historical Fiction Review and Giveaway: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Publisher: Knopf
Date: March 12, 2013
Format: ARC
Source: Random Buzzers Ambuzzadors program
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
Pages: 340
Reading time: three days

From GoodReads: 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.

My review: I loved, loved, loved the antebellum Southern gothic setting of Strands of Bronze and Gold. It's a rather romantic (in the sense of Romanticism) view of what's portrayed as a decadent, patriarchal Southern aristocracy, but Nickerson carries out this portrayal tastefully rather than sensationally. The society she paints seems realistic, not the showy descriptions of wealth and upright heroines outspokenly moralizing against slavery I've often run into before in historical fiction. And the gothic feel? "Bluebeard" is one of my favorite fairy tales for its intrigue and gruesomeness, and Strands of Bronze and Gold certainly lives up to this with its decaying abbey-turned-plantation, ghosts, and seclusion. The creepy-crawlies just keep running down your back as you begin to realize along with Sophia just what she's tangled up with.

The gothicness definitely kept me fascinated, compulsively reading as I waited to see what the plot had in store. The ending wasn't much of a shocker if you are familiar with the original tale, but it was still gripping. Yet, parts of the novel seemed choppy. Some characters seemed shallow and underwent major changes without much development. There was just this certain feeling of a lack of complete cohesiveness. I highly recommend Strands of Bronze and Gold as a nice read for a rainy day (which will provide great atmosphere!) - it's an engrossing book for the time you're reading, but it didn't leave me with much afterwards. Breeze through, enjoy, and move on.

And, thanks to the Ambuzzadors program at Random Buzzers, I have an extra ARC of Strands of Bronze and Gold to give away! Sorry, but US addresses only, as my parents fund the shipping cost. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below.

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And...Random House just released the cover and synopsis for the second book, The Mirk and Midnight Hour! Due for release in March 2014.
From GoodReads:
Jane Nickerson's second novel, also set in the "Strands" world, is based on the Scottish 'Ballad of Tam Lin,' and is set in Mississippi during the Civil War. Violet Dancey, a 17-year-old whose father has left to fight in the Civil War, is forced to confront Thomas, a hurt Union solider near her home. She must decide how to approach the enemy--and how to deal with her growing attraction to him.


  1. Oh wow, this book sounds really, really good!

    1. I definitely recommend reading it! Who wouldn't like a nice, gruesome historical retelling of Bluebeard?

  2. I am so excited about this one -- the cover has fascinated me from the get-go, and I'm hearing good things. :o)

  3. This one does look great, I am looking for some great reads for my daughters. They are both into Shari Whyte's Stelladaur Series, my oldest just is finishing Finding Tir Na Nog. What makes me recommend this series for all kids is that Whyte also has a Stelladaur Academy online that teaches character development as well as other things. A really neat idea. and for the sites. I think anyone who is interested should take a look at both. Great series, great ideas! I need to pick this book up for my oldest, thanks for the review!