Bryony and Roses

by T. Kingfisher

The author mentions McKinley’s Rose Daughter in the foreward of this book, and it truly is a fan reaction to that masterpiece retelling of Beauty & the Beast. There’s even mention of Beauty in the story, and a girl who loves books, and tames her beast by being civil and mannerly…although this is T. Kingfisher so Bryony is also sometimes snarky and bantery.

Bryony is saved from a snowstorm herself on the way to get rutabagas…and then is caught by the beast trying to leave with a rose. She returns to imprisonment, but with her own seeds and gardening tools and slowly begins to build a real garden in the magical lawns of the house, and a real relationship with the beast.

There’s lots of small tweaks to the story, Bryony gets some great sisters who both deserve stories of their own, or maybe not Iris who seems to weepy to me, and books, roses, an imaginary bad poet in a frilly white shirt, and forgiveness. This is a lovely, lovely version of Beauty & the Beast and Bryony has to do much more physical toil to save her Beast than just return with a kiss.

Perfectly wonderful even for younger YA set, although Bryony alludes to some feelings a strange dream brings her and in the end, we find out where some of the servants have gone (somewhat grisly).