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

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's, May 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s, May 2016

The Book Itself: It comes dangerously close to my pet peeve: using picture of pretty men and women, usually looking like they have no business being in this book, in order to sell a cover, and thus, a book. We get half of a pretty woman, and it’s a drawn picture at that. The dress looks rough, almost feral, which fits with the book. The barbed wire and the title do draw me in.

My Review: She stole a life. Now she must pay with her heart.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only 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 over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

This review is difficult for me because I have already read the second book, which, spoiler alert, is leaps and bounds better. I’m not going to say you should read this book only so you can read the second, but…yes maybe I’ll actually say that.

First, I’ll list my problems with this first installment, and then explain why I stuck around.

  1. It is too much like too many other things
    My (wonderful, beautiful, humble) best friend again recommended this to me. She had just finished the second book as well, and practically threw the book at me to get me to start it. She did warn me that this book “until about halfway through, IS Beauty & the Beast. And it is. Enter Tamlin, the Beast: in this iteration, he’s a faerie, a creature feared in the mortal realm because of a terrible war in the past. He can shapeshift, and his shifted form is literally the Beast. Down to the lion-like body and horned head. Enter our Beauty, Feyre: in order to support her family, she goes out into the woods in secret and shoots food with a bow and arrow. I won’t say who that reminds me of, but it rhymes with Patmiss Nevermean. Beast takes Beauty away (from her terrible family, mostly. Her sisters are literally the ugly stepsisters from Cinderella. Like, in their current situation, who the eff would act like they do?! They were flat, unbelievable characters to me because of their absurd bitchiness). Beast holes Beauty up in a castle and tells her she can’t leave. Beast gets controlling. Beauty gets impatient, and literally does the opposite of everything Beast tells her to do (which, like, good for her, because he’s being controlling, but after the first brush with death with supernatural beings, maybe take a break from being a rebel). Beast sends Beauty away only for her to realize that she loves him. Beauty finds out there is a Curse on Beast. The Curse here is the same exact curse as Beauty & the Beast. There is no surprise here! I take issue with retellings of myth and fairy tales when they feel like they’re not trying to do something different with it: they don’t try to illustrate some new theme or they don’t deviate from the previously written plot at all in order to make it new. A Court of Thorns and Roses didn’t feel new to me. It followed the plot of Beauty and the Beast to a T, and even the addition of faeries improved that for me.
  2. Things get good too late
    After Beauty – sorry, Feyre – finally figures it out, it is her turn to rescue the Beast/Tamlin. Her journey through the place where he’s been taken and the trials she has to face FINALLY pick up the pace in the story. Her relationship with a handful of secondary characters actually has me liking her more, and fleshing them out as people too. We meet Rhysand, who plays an integral part in the second book, and his character development in this book alone is done very well. But all of this takes place in the last third of this book. That seems like a lot of build up for a payoff that only takes up a hundred pages or so.
  3. Tamlin is kind of an ass/his purpose seems purely physical
    Unpopular opinion? Am I being influenced by the second story’s events? I don’t care. There were times in this first book where I didn’t really like our leading man. Yes, he was trying to protect a mortal human from the faeries and other forces in his world that could seriously harm her. But he clearly has some Edward Cullen abusive tendencies going on (yes, I just compared him to a Twilight character. It’s apt). He controls and commands his love interest in the name of affection and his vastly superior physical strength. Even his love and affection for Feyre is displayed only in physical attention. Yes, those love scenes are NOT YA. They’re steamy and hot and I’m not about to complain about them. But a star-crossed love should be based on more than sex, and here it doesn’t feel like it’s more than that.

OKAY. After all that, I liked it enough to read the sequel. Why?

 

 

 

  1. It’s well-paced, and for the most part, well-written
    There are no clumsy metaphors and similes crowding up things. Despite the plot being rather recycled, I still turned the pages to see what would happen to the characters.
  2. Secondary characters piqued by attention
    Rhysand is obviously set up in this story to become the focus in the second. But he’s set up really well. Introduced as a greasy enemy, he slowly becomes someone the reader can see has more depth than that mean façade. He’s helpful, wily, and witty. You inherently want to hear more about him. Lucien, Tamlin’s right hand man (Lumiere to the Beast) also gains a lot of development as the plot thickens. He has a great (sad) backstory, and his family is poised to present a lot of future problems.
  3. I rooted for Feyre and Tamlin as a couple
    Yeah, the Beast was controlling and Beauty was, at times, an idiot. But Feyre goes through a LOT of stuff to get what she wants (Tamlin). All that drive and affection have to mean something.
  4. Dang if that physical romance isn’t HAWT.
    I’m just saying.

 

 

 

 

It may not seem like a lot to go on, seeing as my complaint list is lengthier that my “I Like It” list, but it was good enough for me to see what would happen next. And thank god I did. My review for the second installment, A Court of Mist and Fury will be up soon. Stay tuned!

My Grade: C

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