Did I just read a book that was a mashup of Beauty and the Beast, Tamlin AND Hades and Persephone? Why yes. Yes I did.
A Court of Thorns and Roses along with its author Sarah J. Maas have been on my radar for a while now. Her other series Throne of Glass has been super popular and somehow I’ve managed to miss that series completely.
A Court of Thorns and Roses made me feel a lot of things, but I know in the end I liked it.
First and foremost this was a beauty and the beast narrative where the relationship didn’t creep me the hell out. Feyre violates a treaty, Tamlin comes for her and brings her to his house. That’s that, he’s just fulfilling his role and honestly has no idea what to do with her from there. He has no expectations for her, she can leave at any time she wants etc. They’re both trapped in the roles that the treaty has laid of for them. If she never wants to interact with him, well that’s fine with him.
I really liked the character of Feyre, she was self sufficient to a fault. After her father falls from grace and her family loses their fortune, Feyre has to take care of them. She hunts, she cooks, she cleans and tries to make her family’s life as comfortable as possible. As expected in these fairy tale situations, everyone takes her for granted. Over the course of the story Feyre needs to become more selfish, do less for others and start to think of herself for a change. What I loved about this was that never does this new backbone she develops disintegrate underneath her love for Tamlin. She’s able to keep her newly developed self-hood and fall in love. WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN?
Understand their romance is a little bit insta-lovey You know that they’re going to end up together. You know the moment that Tamlin appears that he is the romantic interest. Their descent into a relationship does have its sweet moments and it does have its rocky moments, but you know in the end they will find a way to overcome their differences and work it out because:
Also, sex is a thing that happens in this book. It’s just another fact of life. Feyre isn’t a virgin when we first meet here and neither is Tamlin. Sarah J. Maas doesn’t flinch away from her characters being sexually active. I have lots of respect for her for that. In a section where a lot of books tend to gracefully omit sexuality, Maas charges head first and deals with it. She doesn’t do this in a flashy way either, it fits perfectly in the style of her story. Because really, how can you refer to a story as being seductive and sexy without acknowledging the actual act of sex?
The world that Sarah J. Maas built was really interesting as well. It’s an original fantasy land, where a wall divides the humans and the fae. The Faerie lands are divided up into different courts, the reader spends the majority of the time in the Spring Court where Tamlin lives, but ACOTAR promises to show us the rest of the world later on in the series, something that I am super excited for.
The social divide among the fae takes a lot from traditional fairy tale stories and folktales. The Fae of Srah J. Maas’s world are a hodge podge of different variations. You have your high fae: the beautiful humanoid royalty, and you have multitudes of lower ranking fey, closer to the creatures from folk tales or the kinds you would find in a Holly Black novel.
For all the things I really liked about ACOTAR the book was not without its faults. The last fourth of the novel’s pacing was rushed. It felt like Maas was just trying to get to the ending and final reveal as fast as possible. I would have liked to learn a lot more about Amarantha and the Kingdom Under the Mountain, but they’re not afforded much time.
During a panel that I attended at Bookcon, Maas mentioned that the second novel in the series would deal with the fallout of the choices that Feyre made while Under the Mountain. I’m hoping that this will shed a little more light on the last fourth of the book.
ACOTAR was a fun quick read. While I did enjoy the story at the time of reading it, the more I thought of it, the more I found that it was just in essence a beach read. There is nothing wrong with that, not every book you read needs to be some profound novel with a deep meaning where you the reader have to uncover an earth shattering message. Sometimes you just want a faerie tale where two people fall in love despite all the odds. So if you’re looking for something fun to read at the beach, or curled up in a chair with a pumpkin spice latte (its that time of year again isn’t it?) than I suggest you check this book out.