Reading format: Kindle e-book
Content warnings: gore, sex, confinement, suggestions of rape, torture, death
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In the first installment in a series by the same name, A Court of Thorns and Roses is a fantasy novel about hardship, prejudice, hope, love, and loyalty. Feyre is a nineteen-year-old young woman who lives in a hovel with and is the sole provider for her sisters and father. One cold winter day, starvation nipping at her heels, Feyre embarks on a hunt and spots her prize, but must first kill a wolf vying for the same bounty. The next night a terrifying creature bursts into her home, demanding retribution for the death of the wolf.
To abide by a centuries old treaty, Feyre is carried away to a land beyond the wall where immortal faeries live separately from humans. There, Feyre learns that the beast who carried her away is a High Fae named Tamlin. As she adjusts to and learns more about his world, her hate and hostility towards him and his people gives way to a burning passion that makes her rethink everything she’d been taught about faeries. However, a decades-old curse grows evermore, threatening to overtake Prythian, the Fae lands, and spill into the human lands. Feyre must find a way to break the curse or risk losing Tamlin and his world forever.
When I found this book it was at exactly the right time. I know it’s been out for a while, but I only found out about it recently. I needed a break from nonfiction and contemporary literature and was restless from the pandemic. Thus, I was searching for something new that steadfastly held my attention. Cue A Court of Thorns and Roses from the fantasy genre, in which I hadn’t dabbled in quite some time.
At first I wasn’t sure I liked the casual, first person point of view writing style utilized by Sarah J. Maas. The writing is not poetic or lyrical, some may call it simple. I also found it to be repetitive at times. (If you feel similarly, hang in there. The writing continues to improve with each book.) However, the premise of the story drew me in and I decided to keep reading.
For the first book in a series, I think there’s a decent amount of world-building. We learn about several different faerie courts (akin to kingdoms), encounter dangerous creatures, witness important faerie ceremonies, and begin to learn the history of events leading up to present-day Prythian. However, there is more of a focus on establishing the main characters’ personalities, their relationships, and the impending curse threatening their worlds. In this book, the world-building focuses on two main locations, or three if you count Feyre’s human home in the Mortal Lands.
Feyre is, of course, the star in this. I love her independence, strong will, and conviction. This is not a “damsel in distress” fantasy novel. I also love that Maas can write a good, slow burn that explodes into pure passion. I would love to go into more detail regarding my thoughts on Tamlin and others. However, I don’t want to risk spoiling the story for anyone who’s interested in picking it up. If you want to discuss, feel free to comment below!