My initial response to STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD was an up and down of emotions. I was excited to read this variation of the Bluebeard tale, made new by featuring Bluebeard’s goddaughter rather than a wife. Then I was turned off by my introduction to the heroine, whose admiration for her sight-unseen godfather had strong romantic tones, even when she thinks he is married. Soon I realized each cringe and naive comment built the foundation of the narrative, more ghost story than fairy tale, and I was again swept away.
I love a good Jane/ Rochester romance, but the emphasis on physical attraction between godfather and goddaughter was overt enough to tip from titillation to distaste before the first chapter was over. I sunk deep into the creeping menace of the story. The author created a thick mist of threat and mystery, making it impossible to tell exactly where the path head was leading. Subtle eddies of the supernatural swirled amidst plausible explications, and I found myself hoarding details, trying to fill in the background of the mysterious M. Bernard. The line between supernatural and inexplicable is a wavering boundary in this book, and I enjoyed sifting through clues to piece together both past and present.
Though the foundation of the story was meticulously well crafted, layering eccentricity to manipulation to cruelty, the last third of the story slowed down significantly for me. Once the fog began to clear, once I could see Sophia’s happily ever after on the horizon, I was more impatient for her to get there than caught up in the climactic ending. Furthermore, from rape to slavery to domestic abuse, STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD deals with many issues that may or may not impede a reader’s ability to immerse themselves in this ghost story. If you make it through the mine field of triggers, however, STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD is a chilling, horrifyingly realistic retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale and a scary little book to curl up with some evening.
Sexual Content: Kissing, attempted rape, references to rape.