Bryony & Roses by

She was going to die because of the rutabagas.
–T. Kingfisher - Bryony & Roses - c.2015

A retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.

Bryony is out collecting rutabaga1 seedlings2 when she gets caught in a sudden snowstorm. Just as she is beginning to lose hope of surviving it, she and her pony3 stumble upon a wall and gates. Faintly hoping for ruins that might provide some sort of shelter Bryony actually discovers a large house, complete with fires and food. She takes advantage, of course, wouldn’t you?

But the next morning she discovers the sole inhabitant of the house, and he is a beast who informs her that she cannot leave. If she does the magic will conspire to bring her back.

I love T. Kingfisher’s writing, or, I love Ursula Vernon’s writing and Kingfisher is her pseudonym so people don’t get confused and think all her books are children’s fiction. It is so fantastical and surreal, and yet so practical and grounded. How she does that I don’t know, but it really works in this story. Bryony is a great protagonist. Vernon often mentions her garden and her interest in gardening in her blog, and this really comes across in the character of Bryony. She and her family have fallen on hard times and she has turned to gardening to try and help them survive. She knows a lot about it, but at the same time she isn’t an expert, she is constantly learning.

I also liked the family interactions. All too often in fairy tales the family is a source of friction and argument, of course, most families have some disagreements, Bryony’s is no different, but they clearly love one another and care for each other. We dont see a huge amount of them, it is a short enough book, but we get enough to see that much.

Vernon is one of those authors that I don’t even think about when I see a new book by them, I just buy it, clearly the right call with this book because I really enjoyed it. If you like fairy tale retellings you should give her a go.


  1. aka turnip or swede or neep or various other names 

  2. hardy ones, she just can’t get them to grow for some reason 

  3. Fumblefoot, awesome name! 

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