- STAR RATING: 4.5 stars
- PAGE LENGTH: 216 pages
- DATE PUBLISHED: May 18, 2015
- PUBLISHER: Self-published
- CONTENT WARNINGS: Body horror, Confinement, Suicide (off-page and in the past), Violence
- IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer, Beauty by Robin McKinley
Bryony and her sisters have come down in the world. Their merchant father died trying to reclaim his fortune and left them to eke out a living in a village far from their home in the city.
But when Bryony is caught in a snowstorm and takes refuge in an abandoned manor, she stumbles into a house full of dark enchantments. Is the Beast that lives there her captor, or a fellow prisoner? Is the house her enemy or her ally? And why are roses blooming out of season in the courtyard?
Armed only with gardening shears and her wits, Bryony must untangle the secrets of the house before she—or the Beast—are swallowed by them.
Oops, this is another Beauty and the Beast retelling, this time by one of my absolute favorite authors, T. Kingfisher. Knowing what I know about her writing (and love about it), I had a good idea that this particular fairy tale was in good hands. There are enough horrifying and terrible things hidden deep in this story that Kingfisher could get creative and twisty with it. And that she did — many of the familiar bits of the Beauty and the Beast tale are here, but there are many others that are missing — for one there is no witch that curses The Beast, there’s no Gaston or evil townspeople wanting to murder him. There’s no talking tableware or furniture, either. But boy, are there roses. So, so many roses. Horrible roses.
Needless to say, Kingfisher definitely puts her own spin on the story. One that I really liked, though it isn’t actually my favorite version that I’ve read recently. (To everyone’s surprise? Maybe?) Bryony is a typical Kingfisher heroine in that she is steadfast, down-to-earth, and willing to just…get on with things. She does what she has to do, and doesn’t fret about silly things. Though she does get scared in more than on occasion in the book, but these situations are genuinely scary so she gets points for being sensible. Byrony doesn’t really accept the Beast for what he is RIGHT away but it really doesn’t take very long for her to get over his appearance. I liked that about her — The Beast promised not to hurt her, and she pretty much takes him at his word.
The Beast himself is fairly vague, as he usually is in these tales, but he does have a predilection for making clockwork things. In fact, he makes Bryony a little clockwork bee so it can pollinate her garden for her. I loved that Kingfisher’s Beast had a hobby — something other than skulking around the manor house all day. He wanted to please Bryony, which was cute. Together, they are sarcastic, and like to tease one another. It was a joy to watch on page. I also really enjoyed watching them figure out a way to talk about the curse without angering the house.
Yes, the house is sentient, and not altogether good. I won’t spoil more here, but Kingfisher is a master at making you feel dread. She uses this tool frequently on page, but it’s not overdone. It’s just the right amount of really wishing the characters weren’t there right now. The ending and solving of the curse was excellent, and highly unique of all the versions that I’ve read so far. Overall, I’m going to give Bryony and Roses four and a half stars!
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7 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: BRYONY AND ROSES BY T. KINGFISHER”
I’ve been wanting to try a T. Kingfisher book for a while now. I”m glad you enjoyed this even if it’s not your favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling
This sounds delightful! May I ask, what is your favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling?
I definitely need to try this! I just realized there are still so many Kingfisher books I haven’t read yet.
Great review, I adore Beauty and the Beast retellings and will definitely be adding this to the list
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