THE SEVENTH BRIDE
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA Fantasy, Retelling – Bluebeard
Young Rhea is a miller’s daughter of low birth, so she is understandably surprised when a mysterious nobleman, Lord Crevan, shows up on her doorstep and proposes marriage. Since commoners don’t turn down lords—no matter how sinister they may seem—Rhea is forced to agree to the engagement.
Lord Crevan demands that Rhea visit his remote manor before their wedding. Upon arrival, she discovers that not only was her betrothed married six times before, but his previous wives are all imprisoned in his enchanted castle. Determined not to share their same fate, Rhea asserts her desire for freedom. In answer, Lord Crevan gives Rhea a series of magical tasks to complete, with the threat “Come back before dawn, or else I’ll marry you.”
With time running out and each task more dangerous and bizarre than the last, Rhea must use her resourcefulness, compassion, and bravery to rally the other wives and defeat the sorcerer before he binds her to him forever.
The Seventh Bride is the third T. Kingfisher retelling I’ve read recently, and true to form, it’s a really good one. The Seventh Bride is a retelling of one that you see often: Bluebeard’s Wives. I think the only one I’ve previously read was Crimson Bound, which matched the story together with Beauty and the Beast. I’ve been looking for Bluebeard retellings recently and I think it’s just really hard to do because it has to be properly dark. It’s tricky find a character to root for too. It’s not the Beauty the Beast where you can really redeem the captor and sell a romance, and the wives don’t do much but nose around and die.
Kingfisher did a really good job. Each of these seven wives were unique and interesting. And Rhea was headstrong, nosy, and stubborn — all the things that you look for in this fish-out-of-water, mystery-story protagonist. I also really liked the other ‘main’ wives: Maria, Ingreth and Sylvie. None of them were perfect, they all had secrets and they were all, in a way, out for themselves. But at the same time, they tried to keep Rhea from suffering the way that they had. I thought this was really interesting, I love complex female characters and women working together.
As I mentioned, for me, the crux of a Bluebeard retelling is that has to be super, super dark. Kingfisher achieved this. There was some really creepy imagery, really kind of gory allusions and some ideas that will likely keep me up at night. That’s not to say that this is a horror story, or that is not suitable for YA readers. Most everything is done through implication and a few well-done stage pieces. The atmosphere is dark and claustrophobic and intense.
To be honest, even without knowing anything about the Bluebeard story, The Seventh Bride is a really good story on its own. It’s another great story from Kingfisher.
Also, if you’ve got any Bluebeard retellings that you would recommend, hit me up in the comments, because I’d love to read more.