From the Publisher
USA Today "Happy Ever After", March 19, 2013:
"Even if you've never read Blue Beard's tale, you'll enjoy Strands of Bronze and Gold. Sophie is a very likable character, and readers will soon find themselves caught up in the intrigue and mystery right along with her...I'm glad, too, that Sophie was no shy submissive heroine. She's brave, intelligent and looks through the glamour. The Mirk and Midnight Hour is set to release in March 2014 and is about the legend of the Ballad of Tam Lin. The writing is excellent, and the setting is very Gothic and dark. Just my style!"
Publishers Weekly, February 4, 3013:
"Nickerson makes smart use of a lush, eerie antebellum Mississippi setting to add tension...Although the book moves leisurely, it effectively blends the fairytale world with the realities of Sophia’s powerlessness: she’s underage, impoverished, and female. All of which makes her luck, determination, and eventual triumph all the more rewarding."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2013:
"Elegant prose and vivid imagery give this gothic retelling of Perrault’s 'Bluebeard' an exquisite sense of place; the descriptions of the lavish rooms of the seemingly endless estate are entrancing, while the hints of unease—a name scratched in a bedpost, old paintings found in the attic, a decrepit chapel in the estate’s cemetery—keep the tension mounting."
Booklist, March 1, 2013:
"With nods to such classics as Rebecca and Gone with the Wind and a setting that may draw Downton Abbey fans, first-time novelist Nickerson adds a strictly American spin to her version of the Bluebeard fairy tale. With headstrong Sophia, handsome rake Monsieur de Cressac, and sweet, courageous Reverend Stone wrapped in a romantic love triangle; the glamorous Mississippi plantation as a cover for the somewhat sanitized horrors of slavery; and the increasingly obvious murder mystery; this will beckon readers of historical fiction, romance, and mystery alike."
School Library Journal, March 2013:
"Nickerson makes a strong debut with this suspenseful reimagining of the Bluebeard legend that seamlessly weaves together elements of fairy tale, gothic romance, and pre-Civil War-era American history. Fans of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy will delight in this gorgeously atmospheric page-turner."
SLJ Teen, February 5, 2013:
"Jane Nickerson adroitly weaves the threads of the 'Bluebeard' story into Strands of Bronze and Gold to create a spellbinding tapestry of mystery, romance, and suspense...A grippingly gothic tale, with a lavishly described and lushly atmospheric setting and likable heroine."
After Sophia Petheram is orphaned, she is taken in by her fabulously rich and handsome godfather, Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, who wants only to please and spoil her. It’s the stuff of fairy tales, quite literally in this case: debut author Nickerson is retelling Perrault’s Bluebeard story. While familiarity with that tale diminishes some of the suspense and leaves readers ahead of 17-year-old Sophia, it also affords the pleasure of seeing how this version plays out. Nickerson makes smart use of a lush, eerie antebellum Mississippi setting to add tension: one of the things that bothers Boston-born Sophia is the way Monsieur Bernard treats his slaves. And then there are the ghosts of his former wives—all redheads, just like Sophia—and her godfather’s increasingly obvious sexual interest in her. Although the book moves leisurely, it effectively blends the fairytale world with the realities of Sophia’s powerlessness: she’s underage, impoverished, and female. All of which makes her luck, determination, and eventual triumph all the more rewarding. Ages 14–up. Agent: Wendy Schmalz, Wendy Schmalz Agency. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Jody Little
After the death of her father, seventeen year-old Sophia Petheram receives an invitation from Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather, to come live with him at his Mississippi plantation, Wyndriven Abbey. Sophia is eager to go, and she is pleased to find her godfather so welcoming and handsome. But her excitement dims as she discovers eerie clues about Monsieur Bernard's former wives, all whom are dead. As Sophia begins to feel very alone in the enormous house, she tries to befriend some of the slaves and local townspeople. They, in turn, share their own wariness of Monsieur Bernard. As her concerns deepen, she meets a local pastor, Gideon Stone, and finds herself attracted to him. When Monsieur Bernard learns about Sophia's secret meetings with Gideon, he keeps her closer and closer to him, forbidding her to leave the plantation. Eventually Monsieur Bernard asks Sophia to marry him. She initially says no, but as situations in her own family become dire, Sophia agrees to marriage, which leads to great danger and the discovery of a ghastly secret. A retelling of the relatively unknown Bluebeard fairy tale, this novel does not disappoint. The pacing is swift and readers will find themselves drawn into the mysterious Bernard de Cressac's spell just as the heroine Sophia is. Filled with suspense, tension and romance, this is a beautiful weaving of historical fiction with legend. Reviewer: Jody Little
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Following the death of her father, 17-year-old Sophie is invited to stay with her eccentric and wealthy godfather, Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, at his beautiful but remote Mississippi mansion. At first, life at Wyndriven Abbey is idyllic, and Sophie is given everything she could wish for, but cracks soon appear in this perfect façade. Her seemingly charming godfather reveals himself to be a jealous, moody, and cruel man who isolates Sophie from the outside world and makes her a pawn in his twisted fantasies. Then there's the matter of his four previous wives: all had red hair, like Sophie's. All disappeared or died mysteriously. Sophie's only reprieve from her gilded prison are her secret woodland interludes with Gideon Stone, the nature-loving pastor she met by chance and develops feelings for. When she uncovers the murderous truth about her godfather's past, she knows she must escape Wyndriven Abbey at all costs. Nickerson makes a strong debut with this suspenseful reimagining of the Bluebeard legend that seamlessly weaves together elements of fairy tale, gothic romance, and pre-Civil War-era American history. Fans of Libba Bray's "Gemma Doyle" trilogy (Delacorte) will delight in this gorgeously atmospheric page-turner.—Alissa J. Bach, Oxford Public Library, MI
A bloodless retelling of the Bluebeard tale finds its setting in antebellum Mississippi. When her father dies, 17-year-old Sophia is taken in by her godfather, the mysterious Bernard de Cressac. Sophie soon finds out that not only is her guardian a widower, but there have been three wives before the last. Wyndriven Abbey had been brought over, stone by stone, from France and rebuilt and added to, and it has a full complement of British, Chinese and French servants and plantation slaves. Sophie is first charmed, then puzzled, then frightened by Monsieur Bernard, who is mercurial in his moods and unyielding in his demands. Sophie is plucky and occasionally wise, but she also has a foil and a hope in the local minister, and she finds strength in prayer. Nickerson describes clothing, architecture, woods and gardens in lovely detail, but even though Sophie tells her tale in the first person, there is no depth or nuance. Indeed, for a story with murders, attempted rape and slave-beating, no sense of horror or fear comes off the page, nor does any sort of erotic tension or longing. The language is modern for so old a story, although the slaves and free blacks take their dialogue directly from Joel Chandler's Uncle Remus: "Laws-a-mercy yes. I loves company! Have a blessed day." The end is both predictable and partakes of a distressing white-savior mentality. Skip it. (Historical fantasy/fairy tale. 14-18)