Reviewed by: Jo
Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars
A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first in a new series from Sarah J. Maas, author of the Throne of Glass books (if you haven’t read those, highly highly recommend them—highly). A new spin on the Beauty and the Beast story, this is a faerie-tale with a dark and brutal spin.
Eight years after her family lost their fortune and fell into poverty, nineteen-year-old Feyre is their only means of survival. Self taught she hunts the woods to feed and support her father and two older sisters. When a giant wolf crosses her path on a hunt, she has no qualms about killing it—there’s no love lost for faeries here. These now elusive immortal beings once ruled over the human world with an iron fist. Only a centuries old treaty keeps them on their side of the wall, the Kingdom of Prythian, now.
But Feyre has broken their laws and when a huge beast breaks down her door, demanding she go with him or suffer the consequences, she has no choice but to go. What awaits her is a world she has feared all her life, full of strange creatures, magic, and dangerous politics. What she didn’t expect to find was kindness or hope… or passion.
The theme of beauty and the beast runs right down to the tone of A Court of Thorns and Roses. There is beauty in the world building, character interactions and developments. There’s a gentleness to parts of the book that stand in stark contrast to some of the brutal moments, characters, and choices later on—the beast part. I loved how these two tones where weaved and blurred, particularly when it came to characters. Good guys made chilling choices, characters I disliked redeemed themselves beyond measure; I ended this book feeling differently about nearly every character than I had at the start.
Feyre goes on a journey of discover: of herself, her history, and her long held views. I loved how complex she became. She’s a stoic, if reluctant, hero, but thanks to the first person narration we see the depths of her very real fear and her struggles with bitterness and resentment towards her family and society at large. Despite all that though, she still stepped up–she took up the mantle when no one else would and didn’t drop it, despite what it cost her. She’s vulnerable and flawed, badass when she needs to be, and I was utterly charmed by her.
This is a layered world and as we discover it along side Feyre, it soon becomes clear there is a long and complex history to the faerie courts. As she gets to know her captor Tamlin and those who serve him, dark undercurrents amid the elegance begin to appear. I understood why Feyre didn’t demand more answers (being terrified after all) and that the withholding of information for a large portion of the book was necessary to the overall plot arc. I was satisfied when it came, but just occasionally my frustration at this threw me out of the story for a beat. Other than this very minor issue, I thought the pacing and tension ebbed and flowed wonderfully, building to climax that I couldn’t read fast enough.
Filled with romance and danger on a backdrop of vast and stunning fantasy world building, A Court of Thorns and Roses had me hooked from the very first page. It’s follow-up just shot straight to the top of my most anticipated of 2016.
Sexual content: sex