A Court of Thorns and Roses
By Sarah J. Maas
I’m really excited to finally be getting to this series. This is my first read by Sarah J. Maas and for the most part, it turned out to be wonderful. This may be one of the longest reviews I’ve ever written and I apologize if it’s choppy, but I just want to get my thoughts out. My review will have spoilers.
The book begins with Feyre, a young girl living with her father and two sisters in the mortal lands of Prythian. Feyre’s mother passed away years ago and now she’s responsible for the care of her family. She made a vow at her mother’s deathbed that she’d keep the family together and watch over them. They’re all poor and food is scarce, but luckily Feyre can hunt.
The lands are divided with humans living in mortal lands south of the wall, while faerie-kind live in the north. Stories have been told about the faeries and Feyre has grown to hate them over the years. She’s bitter about the way the humans in her village have to live and blames the faeries for everything. A treaty is in place which prevents humans from attacking and killing faerie, but Feyre couldn’t care less. One day while hunting, Feyre discovers a doe, but right when she’s about to kill it she notices a huge wolf standing near it. She doubts the wolf is faerie, but she isn’t truly positive. Feyre takes a chance–killing both creatures–which will feed her family for some time. It isn’t long after that she’s approached at her home by a vicious High Fae beast who wants to know who killed his best friend. Feyre is given a choice to either die or leave with the High Fae to live out the rest of her life in the north with faerie-kind. Feyre reluctantly agrees to go with the beast to the faerie realm. She’s whisked away from her family to this mysterious and magical land where she has no idea how she’ll survive. As time moves on, she’s showered with multiple blessings, but feels guilty that her family is left back at home and worries about their survival. In time, she discovers that everything she originally believed about the faeries is wrong.
I fell in love with this story from the very first pages. The plot is interesting and the characters have stayed with me. It was sort of a slow build with an end that turned out to be nothing like what I thought it would be. For the majority of the book you believe one thing, and then eventually you find out you were totally wrong, which was a nice twist toward the end of story. The writing is mostly wonderful in my opinion, but it did seem like it was drawn out in a few parts, and maybe could’ve been condensed. I had a hard time figuring out some of the characters, but I’m reminding myself that this is a series with more to come. The time frame toward the end of the book became a little confusing, but it wasn’t all that important. All of these things were easy to overlook. I ended up loving the ending which made me want to start right on with book two.
As far as characters, I liked most of them, but very much disliked Feyre’s family. Things do change toward the end with one sister’s character being redeemed, which was nice. Rhysand was also an easily hated character at first, but he’s very important and also changes a bit by the end of the book. I loved that little tidbit at his departure which left many questions in my head. Feyre makes some really stupid mistakes, but in the end, it makes her character relatable; however, it was extremely annoying that multiple times she deliberately puts herself in danger and disobeys orders. I admired her strength with how she stands up for herself even when she knows she might not stand a chance. Lucien was confusing at first, but ended up becoming quite brotherly which was lovely. I think Tamlin turned out to be my favorite out of all the characters; I appreciated his kindness because when he first shows up to capture Feyre, it’s unknown what his intentions truly are.
I picked this book for the 2019 Retellings Reading Challenge not knowing that much about it, other than the hype I’ve seen online over the series. I read that the author intended to write it as a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I wasn’t totally positive that it would stay true. After reading it, I definitely think it qualifies because there were many elements that connected. For starters, there’s Feyre who lives with her family of two sisters and her father. Her mother passed away years ago and they’re all poor struggling to live with financial hardship. Secondly, Feyre’s forced to leave home in a ‘life for a life’ situation due to her faerie-murdering mistake. Now she’ll be forced to live with Tamlin (beast) in the faerie realm which she totally despises at first. She hates living there for the longest time, but eventually falls in love with Tamlin. Of course, Feyre is different from Beauty, but she’s still very strong-willed and brave. Tamlin is also different than the Beast in that he’s a beautiful, shape-shifting faerie lord. There are also other connections in the story including a study in the magical manor where Tamlin and Lucien live, a certain curse, the mentioning of father’s ships, and of course Feyre is eventually sent back to the human world. The story has its similarities to Beauty and the Beast, but the author has certainly made it her own with the addition of so much more, making this book truly an original.
With all that said, I have to mention a few little random niggles which don’t affect my book rating:
- I had issues with Feyre’s family. Her dad refuses to help the family survive, although he does have a leg injury, he could help and chooses not to. Why? Is he that depressed? Her sisters are rude and just want to spend the money Feyre makes. They’re all so unappreciative of her.
- Feyre is eventually given three challenges by Amarantha to prove her love for Tamlin. Feyre simply isn’t strong enough to accomplish the three challenges without the help of others (one male in particular that was totally unexpected) and as magical as the High Fae are, none of them seem to know she’s receiving Faerie aid. At one point, it’s brought to Amarantha’s attention and she doesn’t even seem to care, even though it affects her fate and her choosing of Tamlin for herself. This seemed silly, especially for someone like Amarantha who has no problem breaking the rules.
- I didn’t appreciate the parts where Feyre is nearly nude, forced to get drunk on faerie wine, and then forced to dance for Rhysand and all the faerie-kind. That was weird and it made me a little uncomfortable.
- Even though I was perfectly fine with the sexual content in the book, multiple times I asked myself: Is this really YA? It seemed extremely graphic in spots with one scene where I thought there could be some force and aggression. Other scenes seemed super steamy, which I personally loved, but shouldn’t this be New Adult rather than Young Adult? Last time I checked, YA is recommended for ages 12-18 and this book just seemed too sexy for a child at the age of 12. Obviously all kids are different, but this isn’t a book I’d want my 12-year-old daughter to read. I’m not discrediting the book, but I had to mention this.
Overall, I loved it and I’m moving right on to book two!
Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
This is the third book for my 2019 Retellings Reading Challenge. If you’d like to see my progress, you can click the image below.
Thanks for reading my review! Have you read this book? Did you like it? Let’s chat in the comment’s section below.