So it is probably the largest understatement in YA fan history to say that I am very late to the party when it comes to SJM novels, especially considering this is my first SJM novel. I typically do my best to refrain from getting caught up in hype because it sucks when the book doesn’t live up to it. Although I still don’t understand what some fans are going on and on about, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.
A Court of Thorns and Roses has a very Beauty and the Beast type of story line. Handsome beast of a man is cursed, pretty and normal young woman must break it. However it does not at all follow the exact story we’re all familiar with. I found it flowed well and even non-action scenes were well-written enough to keep from being boring or feeling like “filler” scenes.
I feel like most of the story is character driven, giving it a bit more weight, and the first person narration from Feyre’s point of view prevents it from becoming dull. So how about we just skip to discussing the characters?
I. Love. Feyre.
She is a strong willed young woman who has been put through hell but doesn’t resent anyone for her predicament. She goes with it to keep her family safe. They hardly help, but she loves them. Would I feel the same way if put in her shoes? Probably not, but I commend her for her loyalty to a family that has all but abandoned her. She is tough, but Feyre also has a deep sense of compassion and sympathy for the world around her. She hates hunting but does it because she needs to survive. Because she has to survive. And because of this need, she is smart. She has taught herself countless skills that are necessary for providing for her father and her sisters, thus sacrificing societal skills and holding off on her desire to paint. It is her drive that I admire and respect.
Moving onto our Fae boys, I want to start by clearing the air. I’m not fond of Rhysand so far. I know this “Chapter 55” in ACOMAF is supposed to change my mind, and maybe it will, but so far, I am not impressed. Aside from him, Tamlin is an interesting character. He’s terrifying upon his first introduction, but is quickly revealed to be so hilariously awkward and sweet that I just want to hold him and tell him everything his going to be okay. Even his snarky second hand, Lucien, is full of depth and warmth as his story unfolds before Feyre.
And our secretive villain? Damn. Typically when the main antagonist of the story takes most of the book to show their face, I find myself getting bored and I questioning how important they really are to the story if they aren’t in it for the majority. This time I was probably more terrified. When we are finally introduced, the setting alone is enough to give goosebumps. More heartless and cold and cruelly vial than any other YA villain I have read about, I was pleasantly impressed.
These characters and more all come together to form a story of love and friendship and bonds that run far, far deeper than what others see on the surface. They tell a story of rising above the odds and fighting for what you believe in. And it’s beautiful.
The Issues [spoilers]
I have one major issue with this book: Rhysand.
I know, I know. How on Earth can I not enjoy seemingly everyone’s favourite High Fae lord? Well I shall tell you.
While being held by Amarantha under the Mountain, Feyre makes a deal with Rhysand which results in him saving her life while she belongs to him for a week each month for the rest of her life. While imprisoned, Rhysand paints her up and essentially has her prancing around naked for all to see. Not only is his publically humilliating her in a way that is a gross violation of her body, he then rufies her with Fairy Wine and has her drink and dance herself sick for the Court’s entertainment. Granted, he is only doing all of this to make Tamlin angry and give him more of a reason to kill Amarantha, but that does not excuse how he is abusing Feyre.
It was a very uncomfortable section of the book for me to read, and although I (kind of) understand where Rhys was coming from, it was still wrong and gross. There would have been plenty of other ways to piss Tamlin off other than groping a drugged up young woman in front of him.
In conclusion, if it wasn’t for my dislike of Rhys’s behavior I would have given this book five out of five stars. As it is, I give it a solid four. I really enjoyed the novel and adore almost all of the characters (Lucien is my favourite). The world is full of magic that I found myself entirely engrossed in it, loving every page that I read.
Sarah J Maas is a wonderful author – based on this book alone – and I very much look forward to reading the rest of the series as it unfolds in the coming books. Do I understand the hype for this series? Mostly. Let’s see if book two lives up to the rest.
Author: Sarah J Maas
Published: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books
Synopsis: Feyre is a huntress.
She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, like all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price…
Imprisoned in an enchanted court in her enemy’s kingdom, Feyre is free to roam but forbidden to escape. Her captor’s body bears the scars of fighting, and his face is always masked – but his piercing stare draws her ever closer. As Feyre’s feeling for Tamlin begin to burn through every warning she’s been told about his kind, an ancient, wicked shadow grows.
Feyre must find a way to break a spell, or lose her heart forever.