A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)
Published May 5, 2015 by Bloomsbury, 432 pp.
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
If I had to pick one word for this book it would be sexy. Or great. Most likely it would be sexy.
I actually started reading this in its ebook form, but I lost interest in that quickly last year. But I picked up the physical versions a month ago since everyone loved ACOMAF so much and I though, mannnnn I’ll have to read ACOTAR to get to this one. So I did. Now I know that the format the book comes in does actually matter, lol. To me, at least.
True to the usual Sarah J. Maas style, the last hundred pages of this is where all the action comes in; most of the book is spent with Tamlin and his court with a few interesting interludes (hello, Suriel! Hello, Rhysand!).
A Court of Thorns and Roses starts with Feyre killing a wolf – an oddly-sized wolf, and she’s suspicious if it actually is one, but she kills it anyway – after all, she is the sole provider for her family. Unfortunately for her, her suspicions prove correct – the wolf was Fae, and now they’ve come to collect on the terms of the Treaty between humans and Fae. And so Feyre is whisked off to the Spring Court, where the inhabitants are all masked, the food is better than anything she’s ever had, and a strange disease called the Blight is washing over everything. Her friendships with Tamlin and Lucien, an emissary of the Spring Court, start off rocky but as she spends more time with them, things get easier. However, there are things that are making its way onto the lands, things that shouldn’t be there, and the more questions that Feyre asks, people start answering them less. Feyre does find out what’s going on though, and the question isn’t if she’ll go ahead and tumble headlong into danger, it’s whether or not she’ll come out of it alive.
The question I always ask myself after finishing SJ Maas’ books is whether that second half, or those last hundred pages, are worth the relatively benign early pages, and the answer is, admittedly, almost always yes. I love the way Sarah J. Maas writes and how she weaves the worlds in her books, and A Court of Thorns and Roses is no different. Is Feyre too good for a human hunter whose prey previously did not include Fae? Sure. Does Amarantha talk too much rather than carry out actual villainy? I thought so, yes. Is it fair that Feyre gets two guys while I get none? No comment. But I really like A Court of Thorns and Roses – it closes the chapter on one baddie, and liberally drops hints for the next Bad Guy along the way. So yes, yes – sign me up for this ride.
The plot, for most part, follows the basic outline of Beauty and the Beast, and despite that, I think it’s easy to forget this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, because I did. I only remembered when Alis helpfully info-dumped me later on. Anyway, I like that this took time to describe the Spring Court – wonderful, ethereal Spring Court. As I’ve come across the many reviews of ACOMAF I feel like this’ll come in handy when time comes and Tamlin isn’t the Prince Charming anymore.
Feyre is okay as a heroine – I get that some people may feel like she somehow knows how to do everything, and I do see that; it’s just that I don’t mind. Killing that worm from hell while stuck in a muddy, smelly maze with no previous experience? Sure why not. I also like how she isn’t sunshine and positivity all throughout – she’s dark, surly, and flawed. But it’s Tamlin and Rhysand I’m intrigued by. Because I feel like Tamlin is too perfect – he plays the brooding, self-sacrificing hero to a tee that it makes me suspicious. He just hits all the notes for Hero perfectly. “Too perfect!” my bookish senses are tingling, quite honestly. While in contrast Rhys is portrayed as cold, arrogant, and seemingly plays for the team slated to win (which is logical, but again, look at Tamlin – Tamlin who refuses Amarantha to the detriment of all his court, but he doesn’t love her ok), all for his own benefit.
Amarantha is an okay villain – she talked too much, did too little (aside from bringing Prythian to its knees), throws too many parties. The Attor was more efficient in scaring everyone into submission. Lucien (can I have a Lucien), Feyre, and Rhys are the only characters that had any sort of development in the book, because Tamlin is already perf. (Can you tell how irked I am by Tamlin’s perfection?)
I also love the direction of Feyre’s relationship with her family, specifically Nesta. I remember hating her family so much (“Ingrates”, I muttered, as I flip the pages angrily) when I first started reading this, but thank goodness they parted ways on good terms.
I honestly don’t understand why Feyre could go to such lengths for Tamlin – sure there’s also Alis and her boys, Lucien and his awful family – but that doesn’t really convince me. Do Feyre and Tamlin need to convince anyone as to how much they love each other? Yes, because I want to root for you. And Tamlin and Feyre don’t quite inspire ship feels for me yet – like the connection between them isn’t quite so deep (though dying for someone should count for something) or real for me yet. Like it all seems cookie cutter – Beauty ends up with the Beast because that’s how the fairy tale is supposed to go. Like it’s the safe choice to make.
Ah well, I suppose it’s good that I got my hands on A Court of Mist and Fury already. All in all I really like A Court of Thorns and Roses, it’s just that some of it felt safe – like Tamlin and his hero perfection, and the romance between Feyre and Tamlin. You can already tell Amarantha isn’t going to be the worst of the lot of bad guys in this series. I do feel though, that this was a deliberate choice – like it’s a set-up for something about to occur later. But all the other parts of this I loved – the action, that Feyre and her attitude felt believable, and yes, that this book went all the way.
3.5 4 stars, because ugh I love the world Feyre and company are in; I cannot wait to read more of the other courts. And if this follows the trajectory of other Sarah J. Maas books this’ll only get better. Hopefully.
I love retellings, and I like the twists this took!
Honestly, aside from Tamlin, I like all of them. Lucien especially. Please let Lucien live.
It was ok – Tamlin is too perfect for my tastes (right? I never knew there could be such a thing) but who knows maybe I’ll change my mind!