A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas – Bloomsbury Children’s – Published 5 May 2015
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.
I love beauty and the beast. Retellings of beauty and the beast are my absolute favourites, and this one ticked all the boxes. I was surprised by how enthralling this book was. It was incredibly rich in detail, sensual and also cruelly violent. The epic nature of this love story is matched by the clever plot and wonderfully strong characters. Totally addictive.
Feyre hunts to feed her family. Fulfilling an oath she made to her dying mother, she protects and cares for her crippled father and two sisters. Her family do not value the sacrifice Feyre makes on their behalf. That is, until the night the beast appears at their cottage. He is here to claim retribution for his friend, whom Feyre killed while hunting. A life for a life, Feyre is taken across the wall that separates the human lands from the Fae’s. Now surround by those she most hates and fears, she is trapped in a world of great opulence, beauty and cruelty. As she spends more time at the beast’s home, she learns of his struggle with the blight that is creating destruction across the faerie lands and learns to see the man behind the beast.
I really loved the first half of this book. Watching Feyre and Tamlin first hate each other and then slowly grow closer was wonderful. Their chemistry is off the charts, and when things warm up between them you get to enjoy some pretty hot scenes. I’m definitely putting this in the mature young adult to new adult category, both because of those moments, then general sensuality, and because of the violence. The latter half of A Court of Thorns and Roses is dominated by the cruelty of Amarantha’s court. What a horrid character Amarantha is. It has been some time since I’ve read so nasty a character, someone I so enjoyed hating. The depravity of Amarantha’s court is quite amazing really, and it provides a great contrast to the love story and the fierceness of Feyre. It makes what she is fighting for all the more real and desperate.
I loved all the characters – even the ones I hated. Feyre is cleverly constructed as someone who is flawed but who you can’t help but root for, strong and vulnerable. She develops over the story, becoming aware of who she is and how she interacts with those around her. And then there is Tamlin. Swoon. A beast, but truly beautiful at heart. His struggles with his magic and in protecting those around him. I also loved the drama and humor Lucien brought to the book.
As for the continuing story in the next two books, this story’s arch is nicely completed, but with plenty of threads that can be continued. No matter where this story goes next, whether Feyre and Tamlin continue as our main protagonists or if we get to more closely follow characters such as Lucien or Rhysand, I know the books will promise to be amazing and equally agonising. If they are anything like this first book, they will also be deeply addictive.
Category: Young adult fiction – New adult fiction.
Genre: Fantasy, fairytale retelling.
Themes: Romance. Fairytales. Fantasy. Magic.
Age guide: Publishers recommend ages 14 and up. I would suggest ages 16 and up. Mature young adult to new adult.
Advisory: Strong sexual references and detailed scenes. Infrequent coarse language, s***. Graphic violence.
Published: 5 May 2015 by Bloomsbury Children’s.
Format: Paperback, hardcover, ebook. 416 pages.