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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
My rating: {★★★★☆}

YA Fantasy
Published May 5th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children's

Source: Purchased
Feyre is a huntress.

She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, like all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price...

Imprisoned in an enchanted court in her enemy's kingdom, Feyre is free to roam but forbidden to escape. Her captor's body bears the scars of fighting, and his face is always masked - but his piercing stare draws her ever closer. As Feyre's feeling for Tamlin begin to burn through every warning she's been told about his kind, an ancient, wicked shadow grows.

Feyre must find a way to break a spell, or lose her heart forever.

To clarify, this is one of my favourite book series ever and since I've just read this one for the fourth time (?I think!?) I thought it was about time I used my words and came up with some sort of coherent review.

That's the plan at least. I'm not sure about the execution! 

We need hope, or else we cannot endure.

It's EXTREMELY difficult for me to review this one because I feel differently about it now that I have finished the entire series to how I felt on my first read. It's happened to me in both Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses - I read the first book in the series and while I enjoyed them for what they were, I wasn't fangirling or in love. Then I read more... And suddenly I'm a goner. It's like that slow build relationship that I didn't even realise was beginning to mean so much to me until one day I was just there - absolutely and irrevocably in love.

First of all, for those of you that may not know, A Court of Thorns and Roses is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and I'm a sucker for retellings and (little did I know when I first read this) an even bigger sucker for Sarah J Maas books - so really, this one was perfect for me and I think that Maas did an incredible job of putting her own spin on the tale and giving us something new.

I remember in my very first read of this book that I felt like it was BatB meets Cinderella with a healthy sprinkling of fae and magical creatures and I still stand by that. This book is full of rich world building and wonderful detail and has a terrific array of faeries and characters to get to know and love.

I do however also remember thinking that it was a little dense and slow... But now I don't see that: I see careful foreshadowing and stunning world building all climaxing in a showdown Under The Mountain that almost stops my heart EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. The series truly comes alive in A Court of Mist and Fury, so if you do find that you're struggling with it being a little slow paced, try to enjoy all the slow build while you attempt to brace yourself! Once Feyre heads under the mountain.. Well - it's about to get crazy!

Feyre is the main character of this book (and of the entire series) and it's important to remember that everything that you read is from Feyre's point of view. Above everything else, she is a survivor, but she is also often naive, self sacrificing and she generally puts everyone else's needs in front of her own. These are not necessarily bad traits and it takes a special kind of strength for a person to be so self-effacing and devoted, even if the people they are devoted to do not deserve it.

Tamlin was... Well he was problematic for me throughout my first read of the book and for every read thereafter. I didn't ship him with Feyre and I didn't like their relationship but I could see why Feyre fell for him and he was what she needed for him to be at the time.

“No, I don’t want you to live somewhere else. I want you here, where I can look after you—where I can come home and know you’re here, painting and safe.” I couldn’t look away from him. “I thought about sending you away at first,” he murmured. “Part of me still thinks I should have found somewhere else for you to live. But maybe I was selfish. Even when you made it so clear that you were more interested in ignoring the Treaty or finding a way out of it, I couldn’t bring myself to let you go—to find someplace in Prythian where you’d be comfortable enough to not attempt to flee.”

He was an overprotective 'knight-in-shining-armor' champion type figure, which could have been okay, but their relationship just had soooooooo many issues.

Tamlin didn’t reply, which was answer enough. If the blight was becoming active again … I didn’t bother to offer my aid. I already knew he wouldn’t allow me to help with whatever this conflict was.
But I thought of that painting I’d given him, and what he’d said about it … and wished he would let me in anyway.

I prefer my romances to have far more give-and-take, more balance, more trust and equality. I prefer my male leads to be strong, yes, but not domineering. However it was a marvelous set up for character development throughout the series and I was thrilled with that. I am thrilled with the direction the series took and I can definitely appreciate that looking back, everything was planned to a 'T' and my beloved characters had their lessons to learn as well as their own paths to walk. Just as in real life, no one arrives at their destination without first having been on a journey and I was so pleased to take this journey with them.

Also, as you may have heard, this isn't a 'fade-to-black' kind of YA book. I'm certainly okay with that but I know there's been a lot of controversy over it. I'm of the opinion that if young adult readers are able to read about horrific acts of violence and war and subterfuge in all the gory details then they are also equipped to deal with a few steamy scenes. Also let's be honest, I was reading upwards from a very young age and if you think that even very young young adults haven't been exposed to sex or the selling power of sex-appeal - you're kidding yourself. Television, advertisements, music videos - it's all there. I also think that it's important that healthy, sex-positive relationships are portrayed in YA fiction and that it's not hidden away as though it's dirty or unimportant. Women are actually allowed to enjoy sex! I love that this is brought across in this book and in this series.

The side characters in this one are possibly even better and more vibrant than our two main characters. Lucien caught my interest immediately and I loved his character and back story and Amarantha - well, she was an excellently crafted villain and I adore a good antagonist.

I can't go into too many more characters (and definitely no plot details!) without toeing the line on spoilers so I'll just stop right there! Suffice to say I LOVE THIS BOOK. GO READ IT AND LOVE IT TOO.

Sarah J Maas is hands down one of my absolute favourite authors and her writing is lush and striking and everything from the actual scenes to the underlying themes to the character development and world building resonates with me so much that I know I will reread and think about this series for a very long time to come.

I stared at the nose I'd seen bleeding only hours before, the violet eyes that had been so filled with pain. "Why?" I asked. He knew what I meant, and shrugged. "Because when the legends get written, I didn't want to be remembered for standing on the sidelines. I want my future offspring to know that I was there, and that I fought against her at the end, even if I couldn't do anything useful." I blinked, this time not at the brightness of the sun. "Because," he went on, his eyes locked with mine, "I didn't want you to fight alone. Or die alone."

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)→