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Book Reviews

Review: “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” Sarah J. Maas

November 17, 2015
Review: “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” Sarah J. MaasA Court of Thorns & Roses (A Court of Thorns & Roses #1)
Written by Sarah J. Maas
Published May, 2015 by Bloomsbury
416 pages
Genres: Faeries, Fantasy
Purchase: The Book DepositoryBookworldBooktopia
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five-stars

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.

I don’t know what I was expecting with A Court of Thorns & Roses, but I was completely blown away by what I found. “THIS!” I kept wanting to shout, “THIS IS MY IDEA OF A GOOD FAERIE BOOK.”

 “We’re too powerful, and too bored with immortality, to be checked by anything else.”
– Lucien

Sometimes fae books weird me out a little too much with their ‘Alice in Wonderland-esque’ vibe… Particularly when that line between creepy and cool goes a little too far. My ‘other’ favourite fae series The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa sometimes blurs that line a little, but A Court of Thorns & Roses toed it perfectly. I think I have finally found my little niche of fae perfection!

Fayre is our heroine. She’s incredibly fierce when it comes to ensuring her family’s survival (and her own) but also quite soft and emotional. She was a character you could easily get behind and empathise with – and even like. While she has been accused of being a cut/copy version of Celaena Sardothien (the heroine fro Maas’ Throne of Glass series), I didn’t find that to be the case at all.

While Celaena and Feyre do share some similarities in terms of their strong will and loyal heart (and the occasional skill with weapons) I felt them to be two distinct characters. I even prefer Feyre to Celaena, as she was a bit more emotional.

 “My priority would be to protect my family — and I would have picked whatever side could keep them safest. I hadn’t thought of it as a weakness until now.”
– Feyre

Feyre struggles to survive in her human world after her family’s fortune is gone. She’s the only one willing take extreme risks to ensure their survival. Although the forest is dangerous in winter, and the dangers that come with hunting, Feyre makes these hard choices and understands their consequences.

She has to make another choice when Tamlin – a fae in beast form – comes to claim her payment for killing one of his people. Either die or spend her life in the fae lands of Prythian. Though she’d rather be killed instantaneously, Feyre made a promise to her dying mother that she’d keep the family together. From this promise, and the begging of her family to ‘live’, Feyre sets off with Tamlin begrudgingly.

Although A Court of Thorns & Roses is loosely based on the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story, I found that Sarah J Maas brought an incredible amount of imagination to the story and changed it in so many ways that it was vastly different, and not predictable at all – even if you are so fond of the ‘original’. Just when I thought I was figuring things out, the story was turned on its head.

“Because your human joy fascinates me—the way you experience things, in your life span, so wildly and deeply and all at once, is … entrancing. I’m drawn to it, even when I know I shouldn’t be, even when I try not to be.”
– Tamlin

Our main fae, Tamlin, was a fascinating character. He was incredibly complex and had a lot on his shoulders, particularly when you find out just what’s going on at the end. He was a great love interest, too, and I L-O-V-E-D seeing his and Feyre’s relationship develop. It’s been a while since I’ve really backed a ship in a book, so it was a great feeling to experience again! And should I mention their scenes are steamy? Like, new adult steamy? Whoa *fans self*.

There are also some great secondary characters woven into the story. From the house servants like Alis, to cheeky emissary Lucien, I was having a ball getting to know everyone in Prythian. There’s also minor villains such as Rhysand, who shook the story up. There was an incredibly amount of heart and time put into crafting these characters and it really showed. Their relationships were well formed, too, and everyone seemed absolutely integral to the plot.

“It told a story…the story of Prythian. It began with a cauldron. A mighty black cauldron held by glowing, slender female hands in a starry, endless night. Those hands tipped it over, and, from it, golden sparkling liquid poured out over the lip. No — not sparkling, but…effervescent with small symbols, perhaps some ancient faerie language.”

The world of Prythian was intriguing, too. We got a great glimpse into things such as their annual celebrations, their customs and ways. Their festivals are both deadly and alluring, their balls both glamourous and dangerous. I cannot wait to see more from the different fae courts, particularly the Dawn Court and ‘nicer’ courts, such as Summer and Winter. I know in book two we’ll be bound to experience Rhysand’s Night Court, which will be thrilling.

With the book’s Beauty and the Beast roots, I loved the little nods to the original story. I loved how Tamlin’s animal form was the ‘beast’, that Feyre still went willingly as a prisoner to protect her family, that the residents of Tamlin’s court had their own brand of curse – even if they weren’t talking furniture! I loved the fact that Feyre was besotted with painting and the arts rather than reading and literature – that the curse still revolved around love and the destruction of prejudice and hatred.

The plot was fantastic. It was as if every little piece of potential was reached, and I couldn’t put the book down from the first chapter. Although the story could essentially be sectioned off into four parts (Feyre’s life pre-Prythian, her stay at Tamlin’s mansion, her return and finally her trek Under the Mountain), the conclusion of each part didn’t dull my interest in the story. It didn’t feel chunky at all, rather a necessary journey in order to understand Feyre’s transformation from beginning to end.

“Because all the monsters have been let out of their cages tonight, no matter what court they belong to. So I may roam wherever I wish until the dawn.”
– Rhysand

I just feel as if I can’t do this book any justice by typing up my thoughts. There are just too many feelings and too much to say.

A Court of Thorns & Roses is one of my favourites this year. While the Throne of Glass series was great for me, it never really gripped me as hard as this one did. But, the levels I wanted to be reached with that series were reached with A Court of Thorns & Roses! I finally found my perfect Sarah J. Maas book – yay!

I absolutely CANNOT wait for A Court of Mist & Fury. Bring me that Night Court!

About Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she's not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

3 Comments

  • Reply Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity November 22, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Yay! I’m glad you liked this one, Brittany :D I really liked it, too. I know a lot of people were expecting something different, but I seriously could not put this one down. I loved the fact that the first half of the book was Beauty and the Beast and the second half was Tam Lin because I love the fact that the two retellings wove so well together!

    I’m interested in seeing what happens in ACOMAF, and whether it will be based on fairytales, or whether it will take its own course. I cannot wait to see where Rhys and Feyre’s relationship goes, because I have a feeling that it’s just started :D

    Wonderful review, lovely!
    Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity recently posted…Three Reasons Why The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden is Three StarsMy Profile

  • Reply Kelly November 20, 2015 at 3:55 am

    A thousand monkey’s fanning a thousand fans couldn’t cool me down after reading this one either Britt. It was one of those intense, pearl clutching reads wasn’t it. Even though I knew it was based on a Beauty and The Beast retelling, it was so unique in it’s own right and the first fae basedbook I’ve actually enjoyed too. I’m shipping Rhys though. He’s all dark, mysterious and smoking hot. So glad you loved this one too Britt and bring on book two! Fabulous review! <3
    Kelly recently posted…The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams ChimaMy Profile

  • Reply Zareena @ The Slanted Bookshelf November 19, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Aaah, I love this series SO much!!! When I read it I thought it’d be really similar to Throne of Glass but of course that didn’t happen because Maas is freaking awesome :D And I’m also dying for ACOMAF!!

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