By Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
To Sum It Up: Feyre is the main provider for her impoverished family; without her and her hunting skills, they would all surely starve to death. But they’re forced to face that exact scenario when Feyre kills a faerie, and she must give up her life in the mortal world as punishment. She is to live out her days in the faerie realm of Prythian among creatures that once counted humans as their subjects. Gradually, however, Feyre realizes that Tamlin, the powerful Fae who has brought her to Prythian, isn’t cruel like so many of the other faeries. He’s actually working to save his world from a blight that threatens to destroy it and possibly the mortal world as well, and his determination gives Feyre pause to rethink the way she’s viewed the Fae her entire life.
Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses was one of my most anticipated reads of 2015, and for a very good reason—it’s Sarah J. Maas! Well, let me tell you, Maas delivers on every level with this novel: the Beauty and the Beast elements, the world-building, the characters, and, oh my God—the romance!
I really don’t consider myself much of a romantic, but this book did all sorts of crazy things to my heart. My favorite romances are of the slow-burning variety, and this one is exquisitely so and expertly developed. I will never, ever grow tired of relationships that take their time and build up bit by bit, the type that won’t let you quit reading because the next page might be the one where that four letter L word FINALLY gets spoken. If all romances were as beautifully written as this one is, I’d read them ALL THE TIME. Can you tell that I still haven’t gotten over this one yet? Yeah, it’s going to stay with me for a good, long while.
I can’t sing the praises of Sarah J. Maas’s gift for world-building nearly enough. A sizeable part of A Court of Thorns and Roses takes place on a sprawling estate that befits a fairytale retelling. I almost drooled over the description of the study/library. For all of the majesty of the estate, both interior and exterior, however, the faerie realm of Prythian is rife with danger in the form of all manner of terrifying creatures. The noble High Fae may be devastatingly beautiful to behold, but their cruelty and nonstop scheming against humans and each other are indicative of the monsters most of them truly are (with one notable exception we’ll discuss in a few). The Court politics are brutal—and often fatal. This is a world that constantly keeps you on the lookout for clues as to what’s really going on because these are faeries we’re dealing with; you know that nothing is ever simple or as it appears to be. I loved every story twist and marveled at the overall brilliant plotting of the book.
Our heroine Feyre’s journey from barely eking out a living in the human world to taking on everything that the Fae throw at her is nothing short of amazing. The opening of the novel finds Feyre struggling to feed her rather ungrateful family, but by the action-packed finale, she emerges one formidable, not-to-be-trifled-with woman. It’s not easy being a human surrounded by treacherous and extremely powerful Fae, but Feyre taps into that strength that’s enabled her to endure years of hardship, and she holds her own in Prythian through sheer force of will.
I had a severe case of the swoons for Tamlin, High Lord of the Spring Court and the faerie responsible for taking Feyre to Prythian as punishment for killing one of his sentinels. But Tamlin isn’t like the other Fae; his title and position are more of a burden to him than anything, and he takes no joy in playing Court games, although they’re unavoidable. Oh, Tamlin can be scary as hell when he shape shifts into his beast form, but there’s a genuinely kind soul underneath, and that duality just wins my heart every. Time.
I also grew very, very fond of Tamlin’s friend, Lucien. He crosses the firmly demarcated Court lines to remain loyal to Tamlin, and his snark is freaking hilarious. My feelings toward another High Fae, Rhysand, are much more conflicted. Rhys is very much the type of faerie you don’t want to bargain with unless desperation is your only option. He oozes danger, yet I can’t help finding him fascinating. I think it’s because he seems to have some shades of gray to his character, and I just love characters who walk the middle moral ground like that.
What is it about really, really good books that makes them so damn hard to review sometimes? Well, I tried. But my puny words are nowhere near sufficient to capture why you need to read A Court of Thorns and Roses. Right. Now!
All in All: A Court of Thorns and Roses is absolutely worthy of all of the buzz it’s received. If you love fantasy, faeries, and/or fairytale retellings, do not wait to read this!