A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas, is a first-person story told through the eyes of Feyre, an impoverished, hard, young woman struggling to provide for herself and her father and sisters. A brutal winter filled with scarcity and starvation brings her further into the woods that border the Fae lands than is safe, and she hunts and kills a large wolf in desperation. As they enjoy the spoils of Feyre’s successful hunt, an enormous beast explodes upon the family’s small cabin and seeks vengeance for the slain wolf. She is taken into the Fae lands and is to never see her family again.
But the beast is not what he seems. As Feyre learns more and more about this strange, new world she realizes most of her previous knowledge about the Fae lands and its creatures was wholly incorrect, and her eyes are opened while she discovers its wonders. She opens not only her eyes, but her heart as well and its icy layer thaws enough to allow new feelings of love and hope to flow through.
As a wicked, unnamed evil threatens all she now loves, Feyre will need to use her skills and cunning to save the beast that has captured her heart. For if she doesn’t, it is not just the Fae world that will be in jeopardy, but the human one as well.
With the title of A Court of Thorns and Roses and the hint of romance in the summary, it should come as no surprise that this reads as a twist on a classic “beauty and beast” type story. Which is honestly why I picked it up, it’s one of my favorite romance/paranormal romance plot lines. It shares similarities with both the classic story and its many variations:
• Just as in the classic, the main character’s father was a wealthy merchant, but falls on hard times forcing them to live in poverty.
• Similar to Belle’s passion for books and reading in the Disney version, Feyre has an interest in art and painting.
• Most obvious is the beast’s character (Tamlin) not being quite what he seems.
The world-building is absolutely fantastic. Maas doesn’t throw everything at us at once. She starts with the familiar, human elements and adds the Fae ones in at a natural, easy-to-follow pace. She also describes the alien, Fae world through Feyre’s artistic viewpoint and the colors and textures are so vividly described that I had no trouble envisioning it.
The pacing is great – action/conflict scenes that are well-written and dynamic are balanced by quieter scenes where Feyre learns more about her new world (and herself in the process). The building tension of the budding romantic relationship between Feyre and Tamlin is written at a pace that is believable, despite the original circumstances of their meeting.
The story builds itself to a satisfactory conclusion with some unexpected and delightful elements thrown in that kept my interest going right up until the end. The pacing and story line were just that good. I don’t feel like the ending was a cliff-hangar in any way. Instead, it enticed us to see where the story would go in the next book. In fact, (and by fact, I mean in my opinion!) if the ending had been just a little bit different this could have easily been a stand-alone book.
I won’t dive into the characters themselves, because I don’t think I could do it without too many spoilers! Instead, here are my thoughts about how the characters are written and how it adds (or not!) to the overall story:
• The story is told through Feyre’s eyes, so we obviously see other characters the way she sees them. If she hates them, we hate them. If she thinks they’re lying, we think they’re lying. Maas wrote her character so well that it wasn’t until I was halfway through the book that I remembered I was reading the story from her viewpoint alone and that maaaaaybe the other characters weren’t quite as good or as bad as I thought. Despite it being from Feyre’s viewpoint, Maas is clever enough to subtly add enough other details to their personalities and descriptions so they aren’t represented as being flat and one-dimensional but more realistic.
• Characters’ personalities and temperament are relatively consistent throughout the novel, while also allowing for growth and development in order to progress the story. For example, Feyre is seen as a bit hard and resentful in the beginning (for good reason!) but we can still see that what she does for her family is done not only out of a sense of duty and survival, but out of love as well. This characteristic is expanded upon throughout the book and softens Feyre’s otherwise tough disposition.
• The story is overall plot-driven, and while some of the characters could have been developed more in order to make them more well-rounded (ahem, Lucien), others were written with enough detail to satisfy but still left with enough mystery surrounding them to make me curious and want to learn more. (Probably a good thing since it’s a series!)
If you couldn’t already tell, I loved, loved, loved this book! I don’t think there is anything I actively disliked about it. Sure, there are scenes that made me a bit uncomfortable, but that’s to be expected from a story that’s laced with dark elements. And there were characters I didn’t love, but only because they were written that way. I had to physically restrain myself from getting up and retrieving the next book in the series immediately upon finishing this one. I didn’t tie myself up or anything, but I did put a chair in front of my office door so I couldn’t leave. That counts right?
So yeah, go read this book! I will be jumping into the next one as soon as this post is done and that review will be up (hopefully) on Thursday October 22nd so make sure you come back for that!
P.S. This post is 100% not sponsored. I bought the book myself and was not paid for this review.