Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Posted July 16, 2015 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Bloomsbury on May 5th, 2015
Genres: New Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling, Faeries
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

4.5 Stars

Ever since I read Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass, I knew that she was an author to keep up with. This woman is a storytelling master, creating such awesome characters, plots, and worlds that you just can’t help falling in love with. With each book of hers that I read, my love expands even more, and A Court of Thorns and Roses cements her as one of my all-time favorite authors. This creative Beauty and the Beast retelling is an absolute treat.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is brilliant as a retelling. I wasn’t quite expecting it to stick so close to the source material, but like with Beauty and the Beast, Feyre winds up confined to Tamlin’s gorgeous estate in the faerie realm as repayment of a life debt. In this case, Feyre had killed one of his sentries who had crossed over into the human realm. This is agonizing for Feyre, who had promised to provide for her family after her mother died and is now separated from them. She slowly has to come to terms with her fate, stuck in the faerie realm for the rest of her life, and she eventually learns about a curse on the realm – and on Tamlin in particular. Maas took all these elements from the fairy tale and creatively made them her own. I just loved the story.

Feyre is a quieter heroine than Celaena, but no less impressive. Despite being the youngest in her family, she was the breadwinner. She taught herself to hunt to put food on the table, taking charge to ensure their survival when the rest did nothing but mourn their lost fortune. Likewise, she doesn’t just quietly submit to being Tamlin’s prisoner and at first fights to find out any loophole in their arrangement to let her get back to her family – even though that life was exceedingly hard and she hardly got the love and gratitude she deserved. In the middle of the story, I kind of was missing her ferocity, but by the end, she had grown tremendously again. Feyre will fight and put her life on the line for the people she loves. She will not back down. Instant badass.

Like all humans, Feyre has no small amount of hatred for faeries. Ever since the war some hundreds of years ago, the races have been separated, but legend carries on the terrifying stories of High Fae enslaving humans and lower faeries killing them for sport. So it’s pretty understandable that she at first has no great love for Tamlin. However, this guy is pretty damn swoony. He does not treat her like a prisoner for a second and is instead exceedingly patient and generous with her. His motivations are a little mysterious, but it doesn’t take long for Feyre to see that he is noble, responsible, and wonderfully protective. They bond over this shared character trait, as they’ve both suffered the burden of being the “protector” of others, and Feyre’s walls slowly come down. As far as relationship transitions go, it’s pretty ace. I’m not sure I would fully call it a hate-to-love romance, but fans of that trope will likely like this.

At this point I do have to say that my mind was constantly comparing this book to Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – also a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a hate-to-love romance. And I have to say that I shipped Nyx and Ignifex a bit more than Feyre and Tamlin. Time for ship wars anyone? Like, that book had me constantly swooning, particularly (I think) because the romance was so dark and Nyx’s hatred/resentment was so much more intense, which made that transition even more meaningful. Every touch between the two set me on fire. Feyre and Tamlin are great – don’t get me wrong – and this romance goes far (they’re not pitching it as new adult fantasy for nothing), but in my mind it lost that shipping war albeit by nothing more than a millimeter.

I think my feelings are further complicated by the appearance of Rhysand, who is the kind of dark and dangerous that Ignifex was but Tamlin definitely is not. I’m not entirely sure this series is going the route of a love triangle, because at least this book is firmly on one side, but this dude. This dude. Like, I would not *mind* if there ended up being a love triangle. And I could probably be swayed to Rhysand’s side? He’s so wonderfully mysterious and probably at least partly evil, but at the end of the day… he’s not really a bad guy. And Feyre actually does resent him, and you know that’s my jam. Ultimately, Rhysand just proves how great Maas is at constructing her characters, and I can’t wait to see more of him in any capacity later in the series. (But I wouldn’t mind at least a couple kisses, kthnxbai.) (Holy crap, I’m screwed up.)

The only complaints I have about this book are two exceedingly minor ones. First, I felt the world building could have used a bit more detail. For example, I don’t understand the difference between faeries and High Fae. I feel like this was never described very well, kind of glossed over as if the reader should know this already. The world just wasn’t as rich and engrossing as I know Sarah J. Maas is capable of – but to be fair, I had the same feeling with Throne of Glass, and I’m betting that like with that series, the world will get more beautiful and detailed in the sequels.

Second, there’s the riddle. By the time Feyre is facing challenging trials from the antagonist, she’s given a riddle that would be her ticket out of there. I figured out this riddle in literally 2 minutes. Feyre agonizes over this for three months. That just kind of annoys me. The riddle was way too simple in my mind – so glaringly obvious – that it makes all the pain and trauma from the trials almost pointless. It was still exciting to read about, for sure, and I sped through the last 70 pages like a beast (ha), but in the back of my mind, some small part of me was still disappointed.

Summing Up:

A Court of Thorns and Roses is probably one of the most hyped up titles of 2015, but luckily I can say that I feel it deserves it. From the first page, I was swept up by Maas’s beautiful writing, and she skillfully retold Beauty and the Beast while injecting a good dose of faerie lore. Feyre is a truly impressive and strong main character, and the romance is absolutely wonderful. (Rhysand… I have my eye on you.) This story is perhaps a bit slower and less action-packed than Throne of Glass, but it is no less beautiful.

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

Fans of Throne of Glass (duh), Beauty and the Beast, fairy tale retellings, and romance-heavy fantasy.

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3 responses to “Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

  1. I also kind of fell for Rhysand because he’s got the complicated “I’m a bad guy, but wait not really” thing down to a tee. So while I may be secretly shipping him with Feyre, I’m more overtly shipping him with myself ;-).

    Annnnnd, I hate to say it but I was rather stumped by the riddle alongside Feyre. But unlike Feyre I didn’t have tons of solitary confinement to think about it, so yea I get your point.

  2. I am so happy that you liked it! I can’t stand the Throne of Glass series, but I adore Maas and her writing, so it made me super sad. I was so excited when I liked this one!

    “Rhysand… I have my eye on you.”

    Yeah…..I love you, but we’re going to have to meet in the parking lot after school today to settle this.

  3. We talked about this a bit but I’m super happy you liked ACOTAR too 😀 I loved finding the parallels to Beauty and the Beast- the gallery made me swoon almost as much as the library! I loved Cruel Beauty too but I ship Feylin (heh heh heh) just as much as Nyx and Ignifex. It was just… super well done and really steamy to me. Plus I kept picuring Tamlin as Chris Hemsworth (sorry not sorry). I liked the world building and I’m wondering if it fits into Throne of Glass’ world in any way… really curious about the maps. As far as faeries and High Fae, I took it to be classes, like some faeries aren’t as powerful as others and High Fae are like the nobles/most powerful of the Fae in general? But I always like learning more so hopefully we will. I’m also wary of Rhys. I didn’t love him like a lot of people. And I don’t want a triangle even though it looks like it’s going that way… but we’ll see, I trust Sarah. He wasn’t Darkling 2.0 for me like I wanted haha. Beautiful writing, beautiful story, wonderful characters. Great review! Can’t wait for the sequel!!!