A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

A Court of Thorns and Roses: ReviewA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Bloomsbury on May 5, 2015
Genres: fairy tale, fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon • Indiebound • Barnes & Noble • Goodreads

four-stars

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

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 grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

In the deepest winter forest an arrow is shot in desperation. The quarrel finds its target, but the consequences are far reaching and unexpected. Feyre, youngest daughter of an impoverished nobleman, has unintentionally killed one of the Fae and broken the treaty between humans and Fae. Now she must trade her life for that of her slain foe. Caught between death or handing herself over to live in the lands of the Fae, never to return to her family, Feyre surrenders.

This is a totally new fantasy world, completely separate from that of Throne of Glass. Feyre lives on an island resembling Great Britain that is divided among human ruled lands and the realms of the Fae (many blessings upon Bloomsbury for including a map for those of us “constant flippers”). The humans live in constant fear of the Fae, and the Fae live in constant fear of the ever creeping and mysterious Blight that is slowly leaching magic from the land. It is a place of perpetual dread.

I am typically a character driven reader and it is no surprise that the strongest aspect of the novel for me was Feyre. Sarah really has a gift for creating these wonderfully awesome (in the old school sense of the word) perfectly flawed ladies. I loved Feyre’s character. I loved that she was prickly and reserved, hard hearted and cold in her turns. Feyre has lived a hard life as the only source of income for her family in the long years since their fall from prosperity. When she essentially has to give up her freedom to save both her life and her family it is a pill bitterly swallowed and the reader feels it palpably.

To transition this bitterness into a love story is no easy feat, but is deftly dealt with in the talented hands of the author. I confess I am not so familiar with the traditional tale of Tam Lin but I absolutely saw the threads tying this to Beauty and the Beast, particularly the Disney version. There is a delightful (direct?) parallel between Feyre wanting to see/use Tam’s art room and Belle wanting to get her library. That is but one adorable example.

Feyre is slow to trust and understandably so. She is treated rather well by Tamlin, who is by all means kind and courteous and decent, and all his attending court despite the fact that she is there because she (unintentionally) murdered his friend. She is constant fear for her life. It isn’t easy to break down Feyre’s walls, but it is done and with acts of daring, courage, and trust. This book has a delectable hate-to-love romance that is not only sweet but steamy. It is absolutely one of the sexiest YA novels I have ever read.

There were just a few things that kept me from unreservedly adoring this book. I just could not stop being bothered by how quickly Feyre was forgiven by Tamlin and Co. for killing their friend. Yes, it turns out there is a reason for this, but I found myself entirely too distracted wondering if a reason would ever be revealed. And yes, it is eventually, but I wish that it had been addressed more in depth.

My other main worry is the potential for a love triangle. Rhysand, a high lord of the Night Court, makes his first appearance about halfway through the novel. He is clearly there to serve as a darkly sexy foil and also to serve up a good helping of mischief. I have a super low tolerance for bad boy love interests to begin with and when said bad boy is a potential love triangulator? Tolerance levels drop to “none.”  As a mysterious, morally ambiguous character I appreciate him. But when it edges into love triangle territory I tend to get less appreciative. We shall see.

This does, as per usual for a Sarah book, have a strong, emotional whirlwind of an ending. There are moments of abject horror and heartbreaking, breathless tension. I am not a fan of fae stories. If this wasn’t written by Sarah J. Maas it’s doubtful I would have ever picked it up. It is such a testament to the talent of the author that she could take a subgenre I feel largely ambivalent toward and make me love it.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a darkly glittering, magically twisted tale of faerie.  As with all things Sarah, each book in the series is bound to only get better and better. I am so eager to see where she will take this story. When all is said and done I place my faith that we will find Feyre victorious.

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