Bryony and Roses

Written by T. Kingfisher ⎮ Narrated by Justine Eyre

Author: T. Kingfisher
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Length: 5 hours 51 minutes
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Released: Oct. 13, 2015
Genre: Fantasy

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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.

This audiobook was provided for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the opinion of the book or the content of the review.

Susan's Review

5 Stars

Bryony and Roses was a wonderful retelling of the Beauty & the Beast fairy tale. It's a little dark, has a good amount of snark, and our main character, Bryony, has her own mind about things, including being a captive in a magical castle with a man turned talking beast. The story starts off cursing rutabagas, and I knew instantly that I would love Bryony. I know exactly what she means by going the distance for good rutabagas, and that quest has left her and her 'mighty steed' Stumblefoot in a bad snowstorm, lost and freezing. Of course, that's when they find the enchanted castle and then the real trouble begins for Bryony.

Typically, I avoid captive love stories because a love based on Stockholm Syndrome just isn't healthy, but I decided to give Bryony and Roses a try because the author's novella, Jackalope Wives, was so very excellent. FYI: T. Kingfisher is the penname for Ursula Vernon. I was not disappointed. One of the things I adored about this book was that both Beast and Bryony poke fun at the situation. Over time, Bryony comes to realize she's not the only captive: the enchanted castle has a dark hold over Beast. There's definitely some depth to this story.

Bryony's sisters are Iris and Holly. Iris is the youngest, the worrier, the crier, and pretty much in the background. However, Holly is a real joy and also that sister you always wanted - the one who would help you kick the snot out of a bully or hide a body. I was right there with Holly wanting to help Bryony but also willing to let her stand on her own two feet. It's just the three of them and Bryony was the main breadwinner and also the gardener. Leaving her sisters was hard, but Beast wasn't without heart: he provides for the sisters per Bryony's request (and her requests are quite reasonable).

Reasonable must be Bryony's middle name as she's very practical about everything. She's not into frills - she wants practical clothing for gardening at the castle. She doesn't want the castle to magically do all the work for her, she wants some dirt under her nails. When Beast gave her a hand one day, I think that was when they started building a real friendship. But that friendship is hampered by the evil enchantment, one that listens to every word spoken. Whenever Beast comes even close to talking about his life before the enchantment or how the enchantment works, the lights dim, the walls close in, and objects may get thrown about.

But the dark enchantment doesn't end there. Bryony's dreams are plagued by images of a young man pleading for help. Her sleep is disrupted by the sounds of footsteps in her room. Beast, for all his strength and speed, can't protect her from this evil enchantment. But perhaps Bryony can save them both. In the end, Bryony is the true hero of this story and I fell in love with this new take on an old fairy tale. 5/5 stars.

Narration Review

Justine Eyre gave a clever and steady performance in Bryony and Roses, just as Bryony was clever and steady. I loved her voices for all 3 sisters (though Iris doesn't talk often). They sounded related but distinct. I loved the snark and Eyre brought that to life. Her masculine voice for Beast was well done and I loved her evil, wicked voice for what lies at the heart of the enchantment. 5/5 stars.

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