Also by this author: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1), Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3), A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1), The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-#0.5), Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons, #3)
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on May 5th 2015
Genres: Faeries & Fae, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fairytale/Retelling, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, New Adult
Pages: 416 •Format: Hardcover •Source: Purchased
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 over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever. Perfect for fans of Kristen Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!
How do I possibly count the ways in which I ADORED this book?
I finished it about 24 hours ago, and I have been unable to do anything productive. I have picked up the book again at least 3 times since then to flip through it and reread my favorite parts. I am a book-hangover mess.
Once in a while I’ll claim in a review that a book was “My favorite in X genre for this year” or “The best at dealing with X topic of 2015.” Well, A Court of Thorns and Roses skips all of those qualifiers. ACOTAR is my number one favorite book of 2015. I’m flailing that hard over it. I know there’s going to be fabulous, incredible books coming out the rest of this year (and many that I’m incredible estatic about) but I already know, deep in my bones, that this is my favorite book of the whole year. It may be second only to Harry Potter. That is how much I love this book.
Now, let’s see if I can coherently get through a review of this book without fangirling everywhere and over everything.
New Adult Done Right
I personally would classify this book as New Adult. Feyre, the protagonist, is 19, and Tamlin (and most of the other Fae) are several centuries old. There’s a lot of mature and intense themes that are dealt with in this book: death, grief, guilt, survival, intimacy. Maas doesn’t pull any punches with her content. It’s on fire where it’s meant to be sexy, tragic where it’s meant to be sad, and brutal where it’s meant to target readers in the feels. I love that Sarah wrote this story for what it is: a sexy, epic fantasy where villains are truly disturbing and romance is genuinely passionate, without watering anything down for the sake of fitting into the mainstream YA category. Yet it also has fascinating plots, interesting character development, and a story that’s compelling on its own aside from the romance- elements that are sadly missing from many of the books that comprise the NA genre at this time. SJ Maas is the Queen of New Adult as far as I’m concerned. Bow down.
It Made Me Like Fae
Fae and farie stories have always been hard for me to get into. There’s just something about them that tends to cause me to lose interest, and not be as fascinated with them as I am with witches or angels. So I was a bit wary that I wouldn’t love it as much as everyone else did. I shouldn’t have worried. From the minute I gazed upon the awesome, detailed map at the beginning of the book I was sold, wanting desperately to know about the seven different faerie courts and how they all functioned. There isn’t a single faerie character that wasn’t compelling to read about, whether it be because of their powers or wickedness or empathy for humans. I loved how Maas adds in little details to the High Fae that reflect their courts, such as Lucien’s auburn hair or Tamlin’s leaf-colored eyes. I loved the fae history and lore, and how Feyre learns about they myths they started themselves and the wars that divided their kingdoms and species. I loved how the land of the Spring Court truly reflected its season, in the special touches like ponds made of starlight and whispering grasses. The world building was completely on point. I would read an entire encyclopedia about this faerie world if Maas was so inclined to write one.
This book is sexy. Really sexy. And I am 100% OK with this. It made me remember that I like reading romance, something I think I’ve forgotten due to the rather formulaic and lackluster romances portrayed in so much of the YA that I read. As a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that there’s a romance between Feyre and Tamlin…and their chemistry is intense. It’s a slow burn of both love and lust, and I love that both of them are adults who can appreciate that they desire each other; there’s no qualms about purity or innocence here. Feyre is independent and autonomous and isn’t afraid to express her sexuality and I found that really refreshing (as too often it seems that when intimacy is portrayed, it’s only because a male initiates it with a meek female). The dynamic between Feyre and Tamlin really works, from their witty banter as they dance through the roles of captor and captive to the genuine glimpses of mirth and vulnerability that they show each other as they become closer. I believed in Feyre and Tamlin’s connection when I read the novel. View Spoiler »I also died a little bit inside when I read scenes like the one on Fire Night…Sarah J Maas can seriously write some SWOONS. « Hide Spoiler
While the chemistry between Feyre and Tamlin literally jumps off the pages, there were also plenty of other seductive fae characters in the novel to love for various reasons. Lucien and his sarcastic humor and biting charm, Rhys and his lethal looks and infuriating antagonism…I don’t think there’s a book series with so many attractive characters as this one.
It Kept the Fairytale Charm
I love that throughout the book it’s easy to see the fairytale elements clearly spun to Maas’ style: the “superior” sisters, the lost fortune, the enchanting manor, the inevitable curse, etc. I loved seeing Alis as a warped Mrs. Potts figure or Lucien as a bitter Cogsworth-type. This novel is truly enchanting, and it’s impossible not to read it and wish for good to triumph over evil and wish for a happily ever after no matter how jaded of a reader one may be. It had me clinging to the idea that love could be a driving force to save the realm, a trope seen as so cliché and overused these days but are integral to so many age-old stories. I couldn’t stop reading because I couldn’t bear to tear myself away from the world Maas created.
It Didn’t Skimp On Horror
ACOTAR also takes on the darker vibe of fairytales that many modern interpretations lack. In real fairytales, gruesome fates often befall characters and hideous tasks must be completed to prove a point about morality and the weight of guilt and choice, and ACOTAR is no exception. The last 100 or so pages of the book has Feyre coming toe to toe with the major antagonist, and she suffers terribly for it. She is made to complete truly heinous tasks to prove the depth of her love and commitment to Tamlin. We are talking giant, disgusting creatures and choices that are made to stain the soul. View Spoiler »When Feyre has to complete the third task to kill the three innocent Fae I literally started yelling out loud. It was so cruel and evil and perfect because it made Feyre have to make a choice between two things she couldn’t really ever live with: the death of innocents by her own hand or the continued enslavement of thousands by her lack of action. Maas is an evil genius. « Hide Spoiler None of the characters, especially Feyre, escape unscathed emotionally or physically by the end of the book, and I’m interested to see how the trauma impacts Feyre’s character in the rest of the series.
The Hype is Real, My Friends
I will be shouting from the rooftops about my love for this book for the rest of the year (and the rest of forever, probably). 80% of the time I’m probably immune to hype but this book deserves every bit it gets. It swept me off my feet, burned through my heart with its romance, emotionally gutted me with its sorrow and sacrifice, and gave me the worst book hangover I’ve ever had. Ever. Thankfully, while this book definitely sets up major plot points for its sequels, it doesn’t end with a nasty cliffhanger, and some of the events at the end truly took me by surprise! View Spoiler »I will admit that I guessed the answer to the riddle though…it reminded me a lot of Harry having to solve the sphinx’s riddle in Goblet of Fire. « Hide Spoiler My only teensy, tiny complaint would be that it looks like Maas MIGHT be setting up for a potential love triangle (though if any one could pull it off it would be her, what with her absolute God-given talent for writing hot Fae men). I can’t fully get on board for a love triangle though because…TAMLIN.
Overall: This book is perfection. Whether you want to classify it as YA or NA, it’s undeniably creative, sexy, and a fantastic play on a fairytale. World building is on point, characters are intriguing and swoonworthy, the romance was flawless…this book was everything I wanted Throne of Glass to be. I now understand why there is significant fangirling whenever Sarah J Maas is mentioned. I’ve been converted. Now excuse me while I continue to walk around in a daze all week daydreaming about this book.
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Fairytale Retelling Challenge
- Goodreads Challenge