A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.
Or, as the cover says Court a Thorns of Roses and. Or CoAurt ThoOfrns RoAndses. Like, it’s a cool design, but man, if I hadn’t read the title ahead of time I would have been confused as fuck.
Here’s the other two, since this has been the most trainwreck of a recommendation I’ve ever written.
Let me start off by saying I personally like this book. But, I don’t think that this book is for everyone. It’s 415 pages long and 46 chapters. It’s not the longest book, but it’s not exactly a short book.
So, let’s get into it.
Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price…
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
I don’t know if you picked up on it, or in the title itself, but this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. That’s not a spoiler. It’s kind of… necessary to understand the pacing of the story.
I’ve read reviews where people call this a “fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast,” or worse a “fairy tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast,” and let me just tell you… that annoys the crap out of me. That seems to imply that Beauty and the Beast… isn’t… fantasy?? And… I just… what?
It’s a high fantasy retelling. Okay, there. I got it out of my system.
When I say that the book is Beauty and the Beast I don’t mean Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, I mean the original story. Or… one of the versions of it. The one where Beauty has two older sisters, where her family was once rich, where her father loses it all on a ship. Where they live in poverty in a shack, where the older sisters are useless, and no one helps Beauty do a single damn thing.
Except, in this version, the inciting incident is different, as stated by the summary.
And instead of loving reading, this Beauty—Feyre—loves painting. As someone who has lived in poverty for so long, she doesn’t know how to read. This is a change that I actually really like.
Who taught Belle how to read? Like, in the Disney version. They’ve never been wealthy in that version. It didn’t bug me until recently. I guess that’s why she’s so weird and different. I’m honestly just curious.
Anyway, the story doesn’t stay Beauty and the Beast for the whole story. About 2/3rds of the way through it turns a little Eros and Psyche. I saw someone explain it that way before I read it and honestly, it’s pretty damn accurate.
This book features Faeries, which… man I love Faeries. These Faeries are a little different than a lot of other Fae I’ve read about, but there’s nothing wrong with that in my opinion. Here’s a map of the world Maas has created.
You’ll notice something about this map, if you know a lot about maps, and even if you don’t. If you don’t already see it, here’s a closer look.
Thus, in this version our Belle is not French, but English. This is something that ultimately works for me. It grounds the reader in something familiar, or somewhat familiar.
It did not and does not escape me that the villains of the series… are from Ireland. Villains who keep slaves and are totally evil. Yeah. Ireland is just so bad with their slavery and England is just powerless to stop them.
If you don’t get the irony, I don’t have the time to explain it to you.
In terms of characterization, I feel like most people are love or hate. Feyre never really got on my nerves too much, but I’ve read that some people don’t like her. I feel like those are the people who don’t like Katniss Everdeen. The girl who’s had to close herself off, forget what she wants, and do everything she can to ensure her family survives. She’s a person who knows what hunger is like, what it is to struggle.
They’re also the people who insult Bella during New Moon. “Oh, she just stopped existing because her boyfriend left.” No, the girl has severe depression. She’s clearly got some PTSD from the encounter with James and now, six months later the only people she’s ever related to or felt close to other than her mother have disappeared and completely abandoned her. New Moon had a completely accurate depiction of depression and disassociation and even PTSD. Not enough people give Stephenie Meyer credit. Or even Suzanne Collins.
Feyre obviously has C-PTSD and so does Katniss. It hits me so damn hard because I do too. It’s so accurate. It touches me in this place that most characters don’t. In fact, most of the characters have some form of PTSD or other mental health issues.
This is the hill I will fucking die on. Mental health representation is important and I feel like most people who don’t like them are neurotypical.
The characters are strong because they continue to exist and push despite all of what they’ve been through. My favorite character in the entire series is Morrigan. I already loved her, and then the third book… god I cried so hard. There’s a reveal that just made me love her a million times more. I love and support her.
I would die for her.
The world building gets me excited. I was so excited to see so much more of the world, even at the beginning of the first book. I stayed like a giddy little kid as we got to learn more and more. Even now, having finished it, there’s so much more of the world we can learn.
I am dying for the next books in the series. I haven’t felt like this in a long long time. I think the next book I was this giddy for was when Harry Potter was still coming out.
I’m not… entirely sure I can 100% recommend A Court of Mist and Fury. If you fell in love with Tamlin and Feyre during the course of A Court of Thorns and Roses… don’t read the sequel. If you were married to their story and their love story… pretend it’s a standalone. Pretend that it’s not part of a trilogy.
Don’t think I’m kidding. I’m really serious about this. Book 2 will make you hate Tamlin. That’s not a spoiler, that’s the first third of the book.
A Court of Mist and Fury completely changes the game, and for me, it’s great. I won’t lie, I’m slowly cobbling this mess of a recommendation together as I get deeper into the series.
If you’re in it for an epic story and Court Intrigue, then this is the series for you. If not, A Court of Thorns and Roses is a great standalone. However… that being said… please read the rest. It’s so worth it. I cannot tell you how worth it this series is. Maas clearly knew what she was doing and planned this series out so well. It’s toe curlingly good. And I’m not just talking about the sex scenes.
This book is so sex-positive, it’s amazing. It’s New Adult, despite apparently being recommended for 11 to 13-year-olds somewhere? I didn’t see it but I saw that in an Audible review so I hope that was changed.
Honestly… now having completely finished it, my heart is breaking that it is over. Oh… my god. I will be completely honest. I walked into this not expecting to like it.
I DNF’d the first Maas book I read, and that was Throne of Glass. I will eventually bitch about that, but today is not that day. I feel like ACoTaR was the book that Maas really wanted put out. You can see the passion on the page and in the storytelling. I have not read a book with such good foreshadowing and payoffs since I read the Waterfire Saga.
Side note, if you are someone who doesn’t have time to read and uses Audible (like me): they change narrators for the 3rd book. I know, it’s a cardinal sin, but as far as I can tell she’s got a decent voice. It’s not such a jarring change, she’s got a similar tone to the original narrator. Usually when they switch it takes me out of the experience, but she was so similar when it came to Feyre’s voice that it was just…
Now I can’t say how I’ll feel after the next three books, at least that’s how many Goodreads says will be coming in the next few years, but please please please… I want to know what you guys think!