For today’s review I bring you my overall impressions of the GraphicAudio A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES production. Spoiler: I loved it! This is a somewhat different style of review in that it’s more stream of consciousness and reflection based. Also, beware! This GraphicAudio A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES review contains spoilers! So if you haven’t read it yet, take heed.
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1
Age Category: New Adult/Adult
Publish Date: May 1, 2022
Audio Length: 11 hours 55 minutes
Narrators: Melody Muze, Henry W. Kramer, Gabriel Michael, Natalie Van Sistine, Debi Tinsley, Bradley Foster Smith, Karen Novack Alejandro Ruiz, Christopher Graybill, Julie Hoverson, Karen Foley & Eric Messner
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The sexy, action-packed first dramatized audiobook adaptation in the #1 New York Times bestselling Court of Thorns and Roses series from Sarah J. Maas. Adapted from the novel and produced with a full cast of actors, immersive sound effects and cinematic music!
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.
At least, he’s not a beast all the time.
As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it, or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever.
From bestselling author Sarah J. Maas comes a seductive, breathtaking series that blends romance, adventure, and faerie lore into an unforgettable listen.
Performed by Melody Muze, Henry W. Kramer, Gabriel Michael, Natalie Van Sistine, Debi Tinsley, Bradley Foster Smith, Alejandro Ruiz, Christopher Graybill, Julie Hoverson, Karenna Foley, Eric Messner, Anthony Palmini, Steve Wannall, Rose Elizabeth Supan, Mort Shelby, Laura C. Harris, Michael John Casey, Scott McCormick, Richard Rohan, Karen Novack, Nora Achrati, and Nanette Savard.
This is my first reread of A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES (ACOTAR), courtesy of a buddy read with Chris in January. I’d been wanting to reread this book for a while, so it was nice to have a push to foist me into action. I opted to go the audiobook route and listened to the dramatized version produced by GraphicAudio. Since this is a reread, I won’t rehash my original review. Instead, I’m sharing how rereading this book in a different format impacted my experience.
However, before I get to that, I have to say I absolutely loved listening to the dramatized version. This comes as no surprise since I stumbled across and listened to a dramatized version of THE HOBBIT last year. The ACOTAR narrators were incredible and the music and sound effects kept me engaged. As someone who can’t concentrate on or retain auditory information very well, this type of audiobook is a boon. Of course, the fact that this was a reread for me and I was familiar with the story also helped engross me.
Now that you know my overall opinion, let’s embark on a comparison of media. If you haven’t yet read ACOTAR and don’t want to encounter spoilers, then halt! Otherwise, please proceed…
When I first read ACOTAR, I had previously been reading a fair amount of literary fiction. So the sudden switch to Sarah J. Maas’s definitive writing style of incomplete sentences and ellipses abound was a bit jarring and impacted my initial rating. I clearly enjoyed the story enough to finish the series, though, and ultimately overlooked SJM’s writing approach. However, this absolutely doesn’t come across in the audio version and instead flows quite well. It reinforced my theory that SJM’s writing style is meant to indicate a character’s stream of thought and emotion. Some authors use lyrical prose to do so whereas SJM uses a more visual approach via sentence construction and punctuation.
Another aspect that I found less noticeable on audio was all of the red flags I initially saw regarding Tamlin. (I know Tamlin’s behavior can be attributed to his own trauma over the past 49 years, but consider the reader doesn’t know this until the plot reveal near the end. That discussion is for another day.) In the book there are definitely passages that show Tamlin is quick to anger and doesn’t heed advice well. On audio, though, it seemed like those passages were part of the sound effects (e.g., Tamlin’s growling) rather than narrated by Feyre. As a result, the red flags are incredibly subtle.
Additionally, I think listening to Feyre narrate her point of view caught me up in her emotions and experiences, dampering my own outsider observations. (Off topic, but it made me think about how those who experience emotional abuse often don’t recognize it because they’re experiencing it firsthand and have an emotional investment. Conversely, an outsider can more easily identify it and has no emotional attachment to the situation.)
In the same vein of voice actors supplanting my first-read observations, my dislike of Nesta softened somewhat. She still isn’t my favorite character. But, despite Feyre’s own grievances about her sisters’ inaction, listening to how Feyre opened up to Nesta after returning from the Spring Court, and how Nesta backed her up, warmed my heart a little toward Nesta.
Earlier I mentioned how the music and sound effects valiantly held my attention. Likewise, they also added a cinematic element and bolstered my emotional response to certain scenes. It’s one thing to read about Feyre killing the wolf or enduring Amarantha’s trials. It’s another to hear her narrate notching her arrow and taking the wolf skin. Or to hear the emotion in Feyre’s inner narration as she grapples with killing innocent fae in Amarantha’s third trial. Part of it is definitely my own sensitivity about death; the pandemic enhanced my awareness of it and it’s now a less abstract idea. But part of it is also music and tone of voice serve as a way to manipulate or cause emotion. And in that regard this dramatized audiobook succeeded.
Before I launch into my final paragraph, a special shout out to Amarantha’s voice actress who was absolutely perfect in my mind. She embodied Amarantha’s evilness spectacularly with the pitch of her voice. I also loved how the Bogge, Suriel, and Attor were cast. It seems I have an affinity for the voices of evil or questionable characters!
Lastly, perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of a reread is noticing the clues the author planted throughout the story. I certainly didn’t originally catch that Tamlin had a heart of stone even though we’re reminded through Feyre that we can’t trust our senses in Prythian. What might sound like a turn of phrase might turn out to be quite literal. My favorite example of this was near the end when Amarantha taunts Feyre during the third trial.
In short, treat yourself and listen to the GraphicAudio A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES version. It is absolutely amazing, especially as a reread. It might not be for those who experience sensory overload from multiple sounds playing at once. Otherwise, I highly recommend it, as evidenced by my 5-star rating of this production.
Content warnings: blood, death, torture, imprisonment, sexual content
Reading format: Library audiobook