A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) Published May 2015 by Bloomsbury.
Source: Purchased (paperback).
Genre: YA fantasy.
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.
I’ve been tracking some of the reviews for A Court of Thorns and Roses these past few weeks and it seems that readers either absolutely adored this book or felt rather “meh” about it. I fall into the second category, unfortunately, and here’s why:
I liked Feyre. She’s the provider of her family, a huntress, and has some pretty cool skills. But I didn’t connect with her and consequently, I didn’t feel her attraction to Tamlin (another fairytale reference; I don’t know the legend of Tam Lin well but here he is!). So their romance fell flat for me – which is BAD because this is mostly a book about their romance. I knew there was the obligatory hook-up coming up but I was still surprised when we went from “I don’t trust you and you’re evil” to “hello, we’re naked”.
I’m also not a huge fan of the Beauty and the Beast retelling without a twist to the original story (Cruel Beauty was pretty original in this regard and I’ve just finished Uprooted by Naomi Novik, a wonderful, magical book); Stockholm Syndrome aside, it seemed like Feyre did nothing really interesting in her time at Tamlin’s court.
The second half (or so) of the book is more interesting; I can’t get into details because of spoilers but there’s a definite change of pace. At certain points the graphic violence seemed a bit over the top – please don’t call me a prude for saying this, I read books that feature violence quite often (they’re hard to avoid if you like high fantasy, in fact) and I can handle my guts and gore, but there’s a time and place for torture and gruesomeness and this didn’t feel like it. It’s a matter of personal preference. *slight spoiler in white* I also disliked the fact that Feyre spent half her time of that second part drugged out (hello, Mockingjay!). *end spoiler*
BUT! Don’t despair yet!
While I didn’t particularly care for Feyre and Tamlin, I really liked some of the other characters. It’s a recurring “problem” I have with Maas’s books, apparently – her Throne of Glass series appealed to me because I found her side characters so great (especially in Heir of Fire). Here, I enjoyed Lucien, Rhysand (both fae) and Nesta (Feyre’s “evil” sister) and I really hope they get more significant roles in the sequel(s). Both Lucien and Rhys were much more interesting than Tamlin in terms of romance! :)
Maas also writes stories that pull you in and refuse to let go – I think I read this book in two days and the writing’s cool. I like her language and imagery and she can always be counted on to provide fun banter and gorgeous dresses!
All in all, I’ll buy and read the next book in the series, that’s for sure. Especially because my love for Throne of Glass grew with each instalment and while I didn’t really like Celaena in books 1 and 2, she grew on me in Heir of Fire. I’m hoping the same will happen with A Court of Thorns and Roses and Feyre.
Have you read A Court of Thorns and Roses? What did you think?
Do you have a favourite Beauty and the Beast retelling?
I’d love to hear from you! :)