- Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
- Author: Sarah Maas
- Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Romance, Fantasy
- Format: Paperback
- Other: Goodreads, Amazon
- Grade: B (4/5 Stars)
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.
After experiencing a bit of a reading slump, I decided I needed to reread something I loved, and I decided on this. The first time I read A Court of Thorns and Roses, I devoured it, and I didn’t pay close attention to the subtler things. But after reading the other two books, it’s interesting to reread the first.
I love that while Feyre is a strong female character, she is also someone who so desperately wants to be loved and cared for, especially since she never gets that from her own family. Instead, she takes care of them, and they never thank her for it. They never help. After having read the last two books and seeing Feyre grow, it’s incredible to see where she started out. Yes, she was strong in this first book. Yes, she was determined. But she was also fragile and closed-off.
However, I did notice that it felt like she was being set up to grow. She was painted in a way that was almost unrealistically stubborn and childish, and because of this, it felt forced. I could tell that every detail was planned. Maas knew where she was going with this story. This created something that almost felt…mechanical. Minor Spoiler Alert: don’t read the rest of this paragraph. Ultimately, I felt like Feyre was setup to hate the Fae so much. Feyre was kidnapped by a Faerie. And yet Faerie almost immediately begins to sympathize with them and see them as human. I don’t know. I don’t entirely buy it. End Spoiler.
Despite this, the charm that I originally adored was still there. I still felt like Tamlin’s character was realistic (and I can definitely see why the events of book two happened). I still loved Lucien and his banter with Feyre. But the moments I cherished more were the moments where we saw Rhys. Seeing him in the way I was first intended to see him was fascinating because everything he did was so intentional. And honestly, I just love him.
But where this novel excels is in the relationships between the characters and the development of plot. The relationships give it that swoon factor. The relationships make you want to keep reading. The relationships make it fun, especially towards the end.
And the plot makes it exciting. It is essentially a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but it explores so many of the issues that the fairy tale failed to explore. Belle isn’t perfect, and the Beast certainly isn’t either. But in this world, it isn’t just about the romance. It’s about a whole society plagued by evil, and it’s about how one person can truly make a difference.
It is because of the characters and because of the plot that I can overlook what I see as the major flaw with the series: Maas’ writing. This is something that kept me from enjoying her other series, Throne of Glass, perhaps because I did not enjoy the stories or the characters as much as I did in ACOTAR. To me, I find much of Maas’ writing cringe worthy. It’s the way she uses female instead of woman, which to me sounds unnatural. It’s the way she writes her sex scenes. It’s the way men purr. It’s the way she describes Tamlin’s eyes for what feels like hours. It’s the way she uses way too many adverbs. Ultimately, her writing style is very reminiscent of the writing one would read on FictionPress and Fanfiction.com, fitting I suppose for a writer who started there.
Despite this rant, I love the book because I love the story. It’s engaging and it’s fun to read. Is Maas a good writer? In terms of style, no. But she does create engaging stories and characters, and a good amount of fluff.