on May 5th 2015
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.
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 grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!
A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first installment in a new series from Sarah J. Maas, following the success of her ongoing Throne of Glass series. As a keen reader of the Throne of Glass books I was really interested in seeing what other kinds of stories and protagonists Maas has to share. This new series has a very fairy tale feel to it and draws a lot from beauty and the beast, which is one of my favourite tales.
Feyre is the main breadwinner for her family as her father is an ineffectual wood carver and widow who has fallen from grace, and her two sisters are too used to their former comfortable lifestyle to help support their new situation. In fact the sisters come across very similar to the ugly sisters you get in Cinderella during the opening chapters, which further adds to the thoroughly fairytale vibe of this story. Feyre, though, is practical and so teaches herself to be good with a bow and takes up hunting to keep her family alive. Unfortunately, on a hunting trip she kills a wolf who is much more than he seems. Her life becomes forfeight to a masked fae lord in return for killing the magical beast.
When Feyre is taken into the Spring Court the plot’s pace appears to slow. We end up dwelling on Feyre’s new lifestyle for a while, following and sharing in her growing enchantment and curiosity with the faerie world. She paints, explores and makes connections with the people there. However, to underestimate the plot at this point would be the equivalent of ignorantly falling foul of faerie glamour.
As the story is told from Feyre’s first person point of view, it is important to note that as an outsider to the faerie community the information she is given during this time is not necessarily true or the full picture. From Feyre’s first day in the Spring Court she is told not to trust her senses. Readers too should not trust the peace Tamlin insists he can guard within his lands. There are fracture lines in the picture Tamlin tries to cultivate and control throughout these chapters which jolted me into remembering to be distrustful of what we’re shown. This multilayered approach to story telling, however, goes beyond the faerie realm, for even the seeming selfishness of Feyre’s sisters at the beginning of the novel is drawn into question later on. Maas’s choice to use first person narration for a novel that plays with the theme of deceived senses is perfect.
Beneath the surface of much of the novel is a much larger plot that is actively progressing beneath Feyre’s notice for the majority of the story. In the last act, however, all of the illusions are unwound and the story shifts into a competition narrative instead of the more straightforward seeming beauty and the beast narrative we start off with. But whilst the novel switches up it’s game from act to act, what the book always maintains is a painterly voice.
One of the important aspects of Feyre’s character is that she is an artist and so the way she describes things is with an artistic and aesthetically sympathetic frame of mind. This made for sumptuous reading, as it made the storytelling very visual and helped develop the character in an interesting way. The most interesting thing to me about this aspect of Feyre is that, at a talk I went to given by Sarah J Maas, Feyre wasn’t an artist in the first draft of this book. It was only after reflecting on how Feyre’s voice naturally describes colours and scenes that Maas made this firmly par of Feyre’s identity.
A Note On The Boys:
What you can depend on in a Sarah J. Maas book is a number of enticing male characters. The main three are:
- Tamlin, whose main problem is that people love him who he doesn’t necessaril. He’s the cursed faery that swoops Feyre away to see if she can solve his problems.
- Lucien, who has a tragic past and cutting manner. He’s devoted to Tamlin and also stuck under the same curse which males him equally devoted to breaking it. I’d love to see more of this character in the sequels.
- Rhysand, the morally grey character who more often than not reminded me of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. Tamlin makes him out to be the bad guy as he comes from the Night Court but his actions make this assessment less than clear cut.
Rhysand and Lucien were the ones I found most interesting. I will forever maintain that this book would make an amazing otome game. Just sayin’.
Overall, I enjoyed the fairy tale inspired A Court of Thorns and Roses, particularly the way first person narration was used. I am quite interested in seeing where the sequel will take us from here, especially as this story wraps up with a seemingly strong resolution in it’s self. This book along with Queen of Shadows. has impressed me in terms of Maas’s narrative craft and I really appreciate some of the choices she has made in her writing. I can’t wait to see where she goes from here.