By Jane Nickerson
Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 339 pages
Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson is, as stated on the cover, a retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale. After the death of her father, red-haired, 17-year-old Sophia Petheram is shipped off to her godfather’s Mississippi mansion and enters a lavish lifestyle. However, things start taking a darker turn as she begins to discover her godfather’s temper, and the murky tales of his past wives – all of whom had red hair.
Jane Nickerson does a fantastic job with her descriptions. The bug-laden Mississippi scenery comes alive, as do the richly colored and expensive gowns Sophia dons at her godfather’s behest. Where the story falters is where the mystery of the deceased wives is told to her by the other characters, and not something she discovers herself. Because of this, the dawning horror of her situation does not build nearly as intensely as it could have, and appears only towards the very end of the book. Nevertheless, Strands of Bronze and Gold is an entertaining read, particularly for YA readers who are longtime fans of fairytales.
Reviewed by Whitney Smyth