Review: A Court of Thornes and Roses9:30:00 AM
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Published: May 5th, 2015 by Bloomsbury
Rating: ★★1/2 4.5/5 Stars
Synopsis (from Goodreads): 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!
I have no words. I honestly have no idea where to begin, and that's largely in part to how much this book WRECKED me. In the best way possible. Having read Throne of Glass but deciding not to continue on with the series, I knew SJM was a brilliant wordsmith who tended to slant her stories in a direction I ultimately was left unsatisfied with. This, however, was not the case at all with ACOTAR. The dazzling writing was there, and this time it was matched by an equally satisfying and heart-pounding plot.
The story begins as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but by the end it has very clearly transformed into its own unique entity. I haven’t read many books that center on faerie lore, but this one incorporated a very unique and intriguing form of the lore.
If you ask me who my favorite character was, I'll probably say "all of them" before settling on Lucien. His quick wit, cynical snark, and brotherly attitude won me over immediately. If you ask me what my ship is, I'll tell you Feylin -- how reciprocated and balanced their dynamic is and how naturally they favor one another has me rooting for them; but don't get me wrong here, I am certainly team Rhysand 'til the end; just perhaps not with Feyre as it stands in the end of the book. I haven't read a character as deliciously dark and intriguing as him since the Darkling. Feyre is a spirited young woman with a fire in her heart and bravery in her bones. She steps up to the plate and faces challenges head-on, and was a far cry from your average heroine in that she owned her sexuality and power in a way I hadn't seen many other YA and NA characters do before. Tamlin was cold at first, but opened up to Feyre easily with time, and I really enjoyed watching their dynamic develop as it did.
Feyre came close as a favorite too, because she stayed true to her gut and was smart, adapted well, and overall became a character I saw myself supporting whole-heartedly. As for why I chose Amarantha as a favorite… I don’t think I have ever read a villain so deliciously evil as she is. With no purpose to her actions other than simply for the fact that she can, a moral compass that’s essentially nonexistent, and a killer fashion sense (like, literally killer… she enchanted a human eye in a ring and wears a finger bone as a necklace!) it’s kind of hard for me not to like her. I want to hate her, but all her years of rage and spite and the grudge she holds for humans turned her into the absolute monster of the story, and what a wicked role she played.
The world-building was absolutely seamless. SJM has a knack for creating lore and history for a grand and sprawling realm and keeping it consistent and tight-knit. I enjoyed a refreshing take on faerie myth, having only read one or two other series that deal with the mythology of the Fae before this book. I was never particularly a fan of faeries or the Fae before, but the particular brand of faeries in this book had me waiting eagerly to learn more about them, their society, their powers, and the way they all intertwined.
The final 1/3 of the book was easily the most gut-wrenching, heart-pounding portion of the book. Things escalate rapidly and the pace never stops until the very last page. My only complaint about this is how the passing of time was marked so rapidly over a long period of time; as well as how quickly the resolution came about at the very end, without much fight. That's not to say it was lacking in action, because that certainly wasn't the case. It simply rapidly digested a portion of the story that I felt needed a bit more time to exist before ending.
Now the topic I’m sure you’re all wondering about… the sex scenes. Though not overtly pornographic or explicit, they certainly transcended the realm of young adult and found a nice little nook in new adult territory. They were beautifully written, communicating the true degree of love and passion shared between the two. They were quite steamy, as well – one could infer what was going down as it was written. I won’t tell you what age range can or can’t read this book – heck, I have a whole real talk dedicated to the topic of sex in YA. But for those leaning more conservative in the area of romance or who prefer books not be so specific about sexual acts, I would warn against this one and suggest you err on the side of caution. I know plenty of people who picked up this book, not expecting the amount of sex this details, who were then duly horrified that it was marketed YA as a result. Although I am 18 as I read this, I know those who were 16 or younger when they first read it – and that’s perfectly fine. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with reading such scenes so long as they are consenting characters who mutually respect one another; as was the case here. In fact, one character in particular surprised me the most when he maintained a respectful stance with Feyre in their dealings at the court Under the Mountain. I’ve omitted the name but I’m sure you know who I’m talking about if you’ve read it.
Overall, this is a book full of breathtaking writing, devoted passion, and absolutely heart-stopping action. I rated it the way I did because I couldn’t quite wrap my head around certain elements of the story (the way faerie magic worked, for instance; or what differentiated faeries from High Fae aside from looks and magic) but they were so minor that it didn’t affect the way I viewed the story too much. If you think you can handle some very steamy romance and enjoy high fantasy, you will certainly enjoy this book.
Have you read ACOTAR? What did you think? I'm about to start ACOMAF and I can't wait to see what happens next!