The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .
When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.
Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.
Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.
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.