A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Published May 2015 by Bloomsbury.

Links: Goodreads. Amazon.

Source: Purchased (paperback).

Genre: YA fantasy.

My rating:

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.

srcek

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.

See what other bloggers thought: Paper Fury – Oh, the Books!The Daily Prophecy.

srcek

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! :)

  • Been seeing opinions all over the place for this one. I’d heard about the Beauty and the Beast retelling aspect of this book. Sorry to hear it didn’t anything too new, though I’m still curious to check this out.

    I’m also looking forward to your review of Uprooted now. That book was excellent :)

    ~Mogsy

    • Yeah I think this is always the case with books with so much hype – some love them, some don’t. And this book was SUPER hyped, at least on the YA blogs I read.
      Ooh, I’m glad you liked Uprooted, too! I’m thinking about starting the Temeraire series immediately because I want more of Novik’s amazing writing but I promised myself I wouldn’t start new series before I finish of several of the ones I’ve already begun :( (A first world problem if I ever saw one…)

      • His Majesty’s Dragon is soooooo good! None of the rest of the books have quite matched it though, and I think I stopped around books 5 or 6. But the first one is very much worth it, I hope you do get a chance to check it out :)

        ~Mogsy

        • Wow, so many books in the series! I’ll give it a try, definitely :)

  • Wait, Tamlin? I have a friend who must read this, then! Interesting. Thanks for the review.

    • Yep, Tamlin’s the guy. I really don’t know how much the legend fuelled the name because I haven’t found the time to re-read the original story, but he’s there.

  • I liked this one a bit more than you did, but to me, it didn’t quite live up to my fiery love for Maas’ Throne of Glass series. I’m much more of a fan of high-fantasy/adventure than romances so this one simply couldn’t match up in that sense. I did like the characters though and yes the side-characters too :) And like you said, my love for ToG grew with each installment so I’m thinking Maas will go on to bigger and better things with this series too! Wonderful review^^ x

    • Thanks, Micheline! :) Yeah I want to see where she’ll go next with this story – but I have to say I’m looking forward to Queen of Shadows more! I like romance but as I said, I didn’t really feel Tamlin & Feyre (actually, I felt like she had more chemistry with Rhys). I’m hoping for a Nesta + Rhys pairing, maybe? :)

  • Maraia

    I’m also Team “meh,” leaning toward active dislike.

    I really enjoyed the development of Nesta’s character. She was completely unsympathetic in the beginning, but that changed as we learned more about her. I thought the time Feyre spent back at the manor was super boring, but I did at least appreciate the sister bonding time.

    Unfortunately, I struggle with captor-turned-lover plot lines, so I knew going in that this probably wouldn’t be my thing. There’s a great review of ACOTAR on Books of Amber that sums up pretty accurately how I feel about the book myself. Controlling/immortal love interest and (mostly) weak/mortal MC aside, my biggest issue with the book is the ending. It reminded me so much of the Twilight books in the worst possible way. ***SPOILER*** Why did she have to turn into a Fae, especially without consenting to it?! Couldn’t she be badass enough as a “mere” human? UGH.

    I will probably end up reading the next book as well. As you said, TOG improves as the series goes on, so maybe that will happen here, too.

    • Ugh, yes, that “I’m back home” time was horrible. Why would she even leave Tamlin’s side if she loved him? I hate those “I will sacrifice my happiness for you” moments.
      I like a good enemies-turned-friends-turned-lovers story but only if the relationship is balanced in terms of power – which it certainly isn’t here. And I didn’t want to touch on that final transformation because of spoilers but yeah, I did a major eye-roll when I read that. *of course* she was transformed and she’s now *beautiful and immortal and superpowerful and superawesome and …* gah. Yep, totally a Twilight moment :D Great comparison.

      Yeah, I’m looking forward to Queen of Shadows more than the next ACOTAR book – but I’m hoping for more Nesta and Rhys time (and perhaps they’ll get to know each other? That would set off some sparks!).

      • Maraia

        Yep, exactly. There was definitely a power imbalance, which always seems to be the case in paranormal fantasies. I was talking to someone on Twitter about how it’s NEVER a powerful immortal woman and a weak mortal man. I don’t like power imbalances in either direction, but it would be interesting to read a book like that.

        OH man, that thought hadn’t crossed my mind, but now I’m totally shipping Nesta and Rhys. That would be hilarious!

        • Hmm, a powerful immortal woman and a weak mortal man? I’m sure we could find an example but it would probably be in adult paranormal romance :D (And it would probably involve bondage or something similar, so not really PG13). YA books tend to stick to the boring old pattern, that’s for sure.

          As for Nesta and Rhys – I would LOVE to see how she’d kick his ass all the way to his court and back. That lady is TOUGH. No mind games and coercion would work on her, I’d bet, not even that faerie wine!

          • Maraia

            Haha, you’re probably right. I bet there’s a reverse Fifty Shades of Grey out there, but I have zero interest in reading either version.

            YES. Hmm, maybe we should encourage Sarah J. Maas to write this ship. ;)

  • I get what you’re saying about the meh reviews, and I’ve seen them, I can understand why people think that. It took me a while to get into the book because everything seemed to be going too well, but by the second half when the action happens that’s when I was hooked. I liked the violence and action and the awful moments that happened in the second half of the book, but that’s me. I agree there were some awesome characters that needed some more book time.

    I do hope this is a series that will improve as it goes on, because if the second book is the same as this one I’ll spend the first half waiting for something to happen and the second half both wanting to find everything out at the same time but wanting it to slow down a bit so I can get to grips with all the things happening.

    Also, more importantly you’ve finished Uprooted, what did you think? It was one of my favourite reads of this year, it was just so unique and magical. It’s like a fairytale, right, but better?

    Final thing, I promise, I don’t think I’ve said it yet, but love your new layout. It’s so cute! It’s a perfect balance of clean design with the adorable little graphics that give it character, definitely a good refresh for you :)

    • YESYES UPROOTED!!!! I saw your review today but didn’t read it yet because I want to write mine first so I don’t get influenced by others :D But then we can SQUEAL together because it was WONDERFUL and PERFECT and so MAGICAL. I’m making my husband read it soon, I don’t even care if it’s supposed to be a “girl” book or not – it’s SO GOOD. Definitely one of my top 3 this year.

      Related: I *just* returned from the cinema where I watched the new Cinderella and OH MY GOD it’s the most cheesy and boring thing ever. They didn’t even TRY to be original. Have you seen it? All I saw was how Robb Stark (are you watching The Game of Thrones? He’s Kit) managed to mangle the few idiotic one-liners he had by being WOODEN. Horrible, horrible. The Ella girl is very pretty but still.

      Oh, I’m so glad you like the new look! :) I’m really glad I made this change!

      • I completely get that, I am exactly the same. I like to read a review after I’ve done my own because at least then you know whatever is written is yours and you don’t have anyone influencing you. I loved it so much, I was excited about the book before I read it, but then once I started I just wanted to tell everyone about it. I’ve been raving to anyone who would listen to me, and there aren’t that many of them. And there is no such thing as a girl book, it’s just a really kickass book.

        I haven’t seen it mostly because I’ve not heard great things. I adore a good adaptation but from what I’ve heard it’s not a good adaptation. I would essentially be watching it for nostalgia reasons, so I’m just going to watch it when it’s on TV in about 2 years time.

        • Stick with your plan for Cinderella – it’s not worth going to the cinema. Gak. And if you have a bad case of nostalgia, just watch the cartoon – it’s better.

          I’m planning on writing my review of Uprooted soon (for next week) so I’ll be checking out all of the reviews I missed after that. I really want to discuss it with you :)

  • I think you’re right about the reactions to this one – people either loved it or were kind of underwhelmed. The response kind of reminds me of when Throne of Glass got popular, actually. I think there’s a good chance that (like you said) this series will be like that one: starts out lukewarm then builds to a more epic level. Apparently the book debuted at #2 on the NYT bestseller’s list though, so kudos to SJM!

    • Yeah, I saw that news! I think Throne of Glass is popular enough that we all bought this book, too :) Have you read ToG yet? Not that I’m rushing your or anything but we need to discuss Heir of Fire soon ;)

  • I didn’t read it yet, but A Court of Thorns and Roses is my next read. Maybe even tonight. I am hoping that I would be able to connect to characters more. Beauty and the beast is my favorite fairy tale so I have big hopes for this book.

    Which is my favorite retelling of Beauty and the beast? Hmmm…. Cruel Beauty was not bad…But I loved ‘When Beauty Tamed the Beast’ more. It’s a historical romance but did a wonderful switch to historical setting…

    • I hope you’ll enjoy it and I’m looking forward to your review! My favourite fairy tale was always Sleeping Beauty (not the Disney version, the “original” one) – I had this wonderfull illustrated version that I absolutely adored.

      A historical romance with a B&B theme? Sounds perfect! :)

      • I started it last night and so far I like it. I wish it twisted an original tale more, but I adore that fairy tale so much I just don’t care. :D

        I like Sleeping Beauty too. You probably watched Maleficient then? Did you read A Wicked Thing, it’s a sequel to SB and has a very interesting twist to the tale. Also Gathering Frost is kinda playing with theme of SB.

        Hahah there, more recs. LOL

        It’s a pretty nice book when you are looking for a fun romance with banter to relax. And hero resembles dr.House so if you are a fan of the series, another reason to like it. LOL

  • Benish

    I gave this one the same rating as well, as a whole the story was very good but the romance took over much of the actual plot. I thought the second half was better as well – I loved Cruel Beauty & Uprooted so much more though! I still want to give the next installment in this series another go, lovely review overall <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

    • Yeah, I’ll be reading the sequel to this one, too. It’s just interesting enough to tempt me, and somehow by this point, I feel like I’d be thrown out of the book blogging community if I didn’t read the latest Maas novel ;) They receive so much hype! Maybe that’s the problem…