A Court of Thorns and Roses is a high fantasy, faerie filled retelling of the age old tale Beauty and the Beast. Sarah J Maas has a thing for faeries (fairies? fayries? there are so many ways to spell it, so I’m sticking with faeries here) as is evident in her Throne of Glass series, and I feel like this series was a way to allow her to play around with ideas she had for faeries and their politics in a way she wouldn’t have been able in the Throne of Glass world.
We start the book off with Feyre, the youngest of three sisters they live with their disabled father in near constant poverty. It is winter and food is scarce but Feyre decides to try her luck and goes out hunting to see if she can catch one of the last deer to still inhabit the woods this late in the year, and as luck would have it she does. Unfortunately she is not the only creature hunting for food, across the clearing is a enormous wolf. Knowing it is either kill or be killed, Feyre manages to kill both the wolf and the deer, bringing home food for her family. Only a day later her worst fears come true, as a creature arrives at her family’s door demanding to know who killed his friend. Feyre now must go with this Faery back to his lands to replace the life she took.
In this world there are six faery courts, the spring, summer and winter courts and the dawn, day and night courts, all of which have their own Lords and rules. Feyre is taken to the spring court, were all of the inhabitants have been cursed to wear masquerade masks for the past 50 years. Tamlin, the faery whose home she inhabits, is a mystery to Feyre who goes to great lengths to figure him out.
Sarah J Maas does a great job of world building in this book, in relatively short (in high fantasy terms) and action packed book. There are clear divides between the humans and the faeries, with deep rooted politics and scheming impacting this book and building up to the next.
Once I had gotten into this book I finished it in two days, and even now only two weeks since I’ve finished it I find myself wanting to reread it. I did have a few problems, the male characters Tamlin, Lucien and Rhysand are all very stereotypical of YA male characters, witty and brooding and they felt underdeveloped compared to the rest of the storyline. I’m hoping that over the course of the next two books they will become fully rounded characters that aren’t so cookie cutter male love interests/friends, and Sarah J Maas has shown before that character development is a strong point so I believe she could pull it off.
I’m also not too sure what I feel for Feyre as a protagonist, in many ways I like her but at times she could be frustrating and I feel like some of her biggest decisions were only so frustrating because the plot called for it, but sometimes I really wanted to shake some sense into her.
When I first finished this book I gave it 4.25 stars, but it’s been on my mind so much I think I have to give it a 4.5 star rating, just because of my fondness for it. I’m very excited for a Court of Mist and Fury, which comes out in 2 days!
I have already recommended this book to my mum, and will continue to shout its praises far and wide because I had so much fun reading it. The complexity of the book was a very welcome break from simpler books which I have been reading recently, and I loved the mystery elements and the grittiness of the Under the Mountains scenes.
Overall, if you loved Beauty and the Beast growing up then I would definitely recommend this to you, I loved the thought that went into changing the story to fit this faery world, and still managed to be surprised at the some of the reveals. Sarah J Maas continues to write amazingly rich worlds, and I’m not surprised at all I loved this as much as I did.