I heard so many good things about Sarah J. Maas and her A Court of Thorns and Roses series that I finally gave in and gave the first book a try. After finishing ACOTAR in half the time it normally takes me to finish a book of that length, I can easily say that it didn’t disappoint. I’m already halfway through the second book, A Court of Mist and Fury – which I have used to replace my most intimidating book for my 2016 reading challenge (it’s HUGE!). Also, Maas just announced that she will be adding 6 new books to this series!
A Court of Thorns and Roses is set in a world divided by a wall: humans live south of the wall, and faeries live to the north. There is a deep seated hatred between the two, causing those found on the wrong side of the wall to be killed on sight. While hunting to provide food for her family who is on the brink of starvation, Feyre – a human – kills an enormous wolf which turns out to be a faerie. She tries to keep it a secret, since the faeries are beyond powerful and just as vengeful.
But soon, a faerie comes to claim her. Instead of killing her, he gives her a choice: be immediately executed or move to his court to stay forever. She takes her chance and leaves with him to live above the wall in Prythian, planning to find a way out and fight her way back home.
Through the faeries who want her dead.
This first book is loosely based on Beauty and the Beast. I cannot emphasize LOOSELY enough. Point in fact, the “Belle” character, Feyre, is illiterate. There are lots of little nods to the story, but I enjoyed the departure from the original. It didn’t feel like it was trying to be a retelling, which I think served it well.
I would say it’s actually more along the lines of Brothers Grimm than Disney. The story and world are quite dark and harsh. Though it’s marketed as a YA Fantasy, it sold to the publisher as and NA (New Adult) and it falls much more into that category. It’s pretty graphic both in violence and sex, so I can’t recommend it for young readers. Parents: you should read it before you let your kids read it and make that call. You know what your kids can handle.
As for the rest of us, I didn’t feel that the violence and sex were outside the normal scope for this kind of book and the author did a good job of using it when the story called for it rather just tossing it in there willy nilly. Some of the sex seemed unnecessary, but it was also understandable given the characters and the environment.
I was delightfully surprised by how many social issues were touched upon in this book. There was a balanced feminist theme (Feyre isn’t the damsel, doing her fair share of saving, but she also makes mistakes), class system issues, and a close look at opposing people groups and how they can come to understand and even love one another.
All in all, it was a highly engaging story which also makes you think about the world and how we interact within it, despite it being a fantasy. I would recommend for readers who enjoy High Fantasy, Magic, Action, NA, and steamy Romances.