Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: High Fantasy
Publication Date: May 5th, 2015
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”
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 jeweled 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.
Probably by now most people have heard this novel was inspired by Beauty and the Beast, but what some might not realize is it was also inspired by two other, not so well-known, folk tales. One is Tam lin and the other being East of the Sun and West of the Moon. I happen to be fairly familiar with all these stories and could see the influences of all them really early on in the book., especially the last folk tale I listed. A Court of Thrones and Roses is about a young woman, Feyre, who goes hunting for her starving family and comes across an unusually large wolf, and ends its life with her bow and arrow. Before she kills the animal, she suspects the wolf might be a fae and she almost delights in the thought of ending its life. Later that evening a beast-like-creature, Tamlin, shows up at her home demanding that she come live with him for the rest of her days, or be ripped apart in her front yard. She chooses to go live with him and thus starts the real adventure.
This book is a slow burn, but I tend to appreciate that, particularly in high fantasy novels. I liked that Sarah J Maas took her time to build the world, the characters, the romance and even the dangers that plagued Prythian – it made me so much more invested once the story picked up pace. I wasn’t ever 100% on the Tamlin love train, I had very mixed feelings on Feyre’s relationship with him. One part of me liked the slow blossoming romance and Tamlin opening up to her and letting her into his world more and more. There were some genuinely sweet moments that that share. For example, I loved that Tamlin made sure Feyre’s family was taken care and some of their banter was good times.
On the other hand, Tamlin has a terrible temper, those claws come out way too much for comfort, and I got a little tired of his constant brooding. I also had issues with the fact that he almost assaulted Feyre when he was crazed in in beast-form. I completely understand that he had warned Feyre and that he might not have been himself (or was he?) but the way he treated her the next day was the first real inkling I had that Tamlin might not be everything he’s protraying. It also drove me crazy that Feyre risked everything to save Tamlin, she pretty much signed her death certificate and he did nothing to stop. He just sat there, completely useless.
I found myself screaming at him, “DO SOMETHING” frequently during the end. I don’t believe that he didn’t attempt saving Feyre because he thought it would save her. Amarantha was well aware who and what Feyre she was to Tamlin – there was no need to conceal it. He was a coward. I mean the first time he gets alone with Feyre, Under the Mountain, he doesn’t try to help her or see if she is ok. Of course, the jerk tries to have sex with her in the hallway. That action alone could’ve gotten them both kill. It’s funny because Tamlin swore his devotion and love many times but it was Lucien and Rhys who were willing to risk death to try and save her.
Lucien, Tamlin’s right-hand man, was who I was first drawn to the most. He has a sarcastic, quick-wit that I love and his loyalty his admirable, even to his detriment. It was hard watching the friendship between Tamlin and Rhys at times – Lucien just took whatever abuse was thrown at him. He rarely challenged it.
Of course, I couldn’t do this review without mentioning Rhys. I know a lot of people hated Rhys from the get-go but I thought he was fun. I wasn’t sure how his character was going to play-out but I knew either way it would be a fun ride. Rhys did horrible things in this book and there were a few times I wasn’t happy with him. However, I couldn’t deny his charisma, humor and the allure of the mystery surrounding him. The time he did spend with Feyre are some of the best scenes, hands-down, in this book. You don’t really learn that much about this character and his motives or his past but we do get little tiny hints of what is to come.
There are some fairly graphic sex scenes in this novel. This might be offensive to some, I personally was fine with it. It was a bit cheesy at times but mostly I was down with the steaminess. I really respect that Maas didn’t make Feyre an innocent little virgin. We constantly see in YA novels that the man is allowed to have had a large sexual history and gets zero flack for it but the female has to remain pure until she gives herself to her main love interest. This wasn’t the case in this book, Feyre was in a casual sexual relationship with someone right from the beginning. Also, once the more sexy scenes heat up with Tamlin you get to see that Feyre is completely comfortable with her sexuality. It was a very refreshing take on sex in YA novels.
I gave this book four stars because I didn’t quite fall completely in love with the series yet. I completely recommend this book if you enjoy high fantasy and swoon-worthy romance. I promise by the end, you will be shipping these characters hard.