Bryony and Roses
1 journaler for this copy...
This one's from her "fairytale-retellings" collection, with a clear "Beauty and the Beast" influence, though knowing the author's work this will go in some unexpected directions.
And so it does! I really loved this one, both for its faithfulness to some aspects of the fairy tale and for its deliberate departures. "Beauty" is Bryony, rawboned daughter of a formerly wealthy merchant who's lost his fortune. She lives with her sisters Holly (a delightfully tough-minded young woman) and Iris (the more stereotypical frail flower), and is devoted to the garden with which they're barely staving off starvation. Indeed, the story opens with Bryony grumbling about dying over rutabagas - she set out to acquire some seeds for those robust vegetables and got lost in a snowstorm on the way home. Cue the appearance of the mansion that shouldn't, couldn't be there - and Bryony's introduction to the Beast and to the House that seems to be something of a personality itself.
Yes, there's a rose, and a curse, and all the usual trimmings - but with some tantalizing twists, from the oddly erotic dreams Bryony has to the way in which the House is sometimes a helpful, even nurturing presence, and sometimes a jealous fury. And the Beast himself has a hobby - he spends a lot of time making clockwork creatures, including a bee that he designed specifically for Bryony after she pointed out that her new garden on the mansion grounds wouldn't produce well without bees to pollinate the plants.
So many wonderful touches - and scary ones; we find out some things about the fates of the cursed prince's former servants that might cause nightmares. But Bryony and the Beast have some great conversations, antagonistic at first but turning into something precious, even in the face of all that's marshaled against them...
Funny, scary, touching, with lots of action and a highly satisfactory conclusion. Love this one!
[There's a TV Tropes page on the book, with some entertaining tidbits.]
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I left this book in this TARDIS-themed Little Free Library on this lovely day; hope someone enjoys it!
[See other recent releases in MA here.]
*** Released for the 2021 Pollinators challenge, for the bee on the cover and the pollination subplot in the story. ***
*** Released for the 2021 June Brides challenge, for the "rose" in the title and the romance in the story. ***