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Khanh the Killjoy

Strands of Bronze and Gold

Strands of Bronze and Gold - 3.5 starsA retelling of the Blackbeard tale, set in the antebellum South. Sophia comes from the north, her mother died at her birth, and she was raised by her beloved father, a sister, and two brothers. M. de Cressac was there at her birth, and was so enchanted with her hair that he offers to be her godfather. Over the years, as the family fades away in genteel poverty, he sends Sophia numerous gifts and essentially spoils her from a distance. When she is seventeen, Sophia's father dies, and de Cressac offers to take her in. She travels to his lavish mansion in Mississippi, rebuilt stone by stone from the old world, and is spoiled and given her heart's desire. She meets the slaves on the plantation and feels for their plight, and learns of his former wives (they keep popping up one by one). Bernard de Cressac is alternately friendly and boisterous, then glowering and angry. He is extremely temperamental, but charismatic, and Sophia can't seem to stay mad at him for long. He is controlling and sometimes cruel, she is not allowed off the plantation, and he later on gets her a French maid who follows her everywhere. His true nature is slowly revealed, and it's rather obvious since this is a retelling of Bluebeard, after all.The good: the writing and the atmosphere. The descriptions are vivid, the characters are vibrant.The bad: the story dragged on a lot towards the second half; I realize that the author needed to build suspicion on Bernard and make his actions gradual, but I really felt the story was about 100 pages too long towards the end. The firs half of the book...5 stars. The second half, 3. It was so slow by the end, I was pushing myself to read on. It didn't help that the reader pretty much knew what was going to happen, a good author would not have slowed down the action so much, or else put a twist in the ending as to not lose the reader's attention, but no, mine was lost.I also thought it was very preachy, and overly religious. There is an underlying message in the novel against slavery (which is great, I mean who's actually FOR slavery?) and it doesn't clash with the novel taking place in the South, but the religious overtones were a bit much.