Published; 18th May 2015, self-published
Source: ebook, owned
My Rating; 4 out of 5 stars
The Set Up;
Bryony and her sisters, Iris and Holly, have come down in the world. Brought up as daughters of a wealthy merchant who loses his fortune, they eke out a meagre but relatively happy existence in a small cottage in an out of the way village. Then Bryony loses her way during a freak spring snow storm and takes shelter in a mysterious manor house. When Bryony leaves she makes the mistake of trying to take a rose with her and is confronted by a terrifying beast. The bargain they make is that Bryony will return within a week and the 'house' will not harm her sisters.
On returning Bryony can't decide if the Beast is her captor or fellow prisoner. And what about the strange dreams? Or the magic that can provide almost anything you require? And there is definitely something creepy about the way that rose bust is taking over the court yard...
So far, so Disney you might be forgiven for thinking but this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with real thorns. Bryony is a great character, intelligent, sensible and a keen gardener. Her back and forth quips with the Beast are funny and endearing. The Beast is cynical, sarcastic but rather squishy under the terrifying seven foot exterior. Their banter keeps a light tone over a fairly sinister retelling of the tale which does not shy away from examining some of the nastier parts. As for the rose, well by any other name this one would not smell as sweet...
I really enjoyed this original and vivacious retelling of one of my favourite fairy tales. My one criticism is that it does wrap up a bit too quickly at the end. And there were certain 'practicalities' in the ending that, while I liked the direction the ending took, I felt could have done with a bit more examination. Still a great read and I'd happily recommend it to any fans of fairytale retellings.