Bernard is easily the most intriguing aspect of this book, as he is such a dynamic character. There are hints about his true nature from the beginning of the book, though at first they’re overshadowed by the more positive aspects of his character: his good looks, his generosity, and his charming personality. There is a slow buildup to the revelation of his true character, which is kind of disturbing to behold, though readers with prior knowledge of the fairy tale will not be surprised by it.
I have mixed feelings about the protagonist, Sophia. Her naive, unassuming nature was to be expected, as she said herself that she had been fairly sheltered from the world since her father’s death. Her willingness to sacrifice her happiness to ensure that her family is provided for is admirable, though the inquisitive nature that I expected her to possess – after all, the Bluebeard story is a cautionary tale about the dangers of curiosity – is somewhat lacking.
While I like the Southern Gothic setting, there is a subplot involving the slavery and Underground Railroad that I was not particularly fond of. It’s never fully explored and seems merely to be a plot device to highlight how kind Sophia is for wanting to help the slaves.
Overall, despite all of its potential, Strands of Bronze and Gold was merely an “okay” read. If I hadn’t been familiar with the original fairy tale – which provided me with expectations of a creepy, dark, and horror-filled story – I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more.