A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Release: May 5th 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Faeries, YA
#1 in the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy
Sequels: A Court of Mist and Fury (#2), A Court of Wings and Ruin (#3)
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
This book is a mess. A hideous, ugly mess. It had so much promise, so much potential, and then shamelessly threw it all out the window as if it was worthless. I had high hopes, and A Court of Thorns and Roses mercilessly crushed them beneath its boot.
The plot was laughable for the first whole half of the novel. It was a sappy, cheesy contemporary disguised as fantasy, but never a convincing one at that. Feyre hates faeries and kills one in cold blood, but manages to fall in love with a High Lord, of all, after a couple months of shy gazes and awkward dinners? Just because he introduces her to the beauty of nature around her and ... I don't know, man. But their love seemed very fickle and a little unbelievable. Yes, they had chemistry and strangely, I didn't even dislike their romance, but I found it incredibly hard to believe.
As such, the second half of the book was a little preposterous as well. That heartless, cunning Feyre would ever contemplate risking her own neck during impossible tasks simply for the love of some Faerie she's known a few months? Really? However, I won't complain because this second half was the only interesting plot the book had to offer, because the falling in love drivel the first 50% really didn't sweep me off my feet. At all.
And yet, I could have lived with that. However, there is one thing, one huge thing that just completely, utterly and absolutely ruined and shattered this book for me. Mild spoiler here, but Feyre is tasked with a riddle to solve; if she can solve it, everyone goes free without violence. After reading the first paragraph of the riddle, I had already figured out the answer. It took me two fucking seconds to figure out the answer. Feyre mulls it over for months, months, until she arrives at the answer during the last 10% of the book and Maas then pulls this out like it's some kind of big, shocking reveal. Fuck no. Fucking fuck no. Do you REALLY think we're that dumb, Sarah J. Maas? Are you seriously insulting your readers by thinking so little of them? Honestly.
At this point, I think it's fair to also point out how frustratingly stupid and annoying Feyre could be. Or was. I'm still not sure. I only know that, for the first half, Maas owes me some hair. Hair that I pulled out in complete frustration and rage over how fucking dumb this protagonist was. Feyre goes against all orders at risk of her own safety, while being perfectly aware of that fact, simply to spite the big, bad Faeries and possibly get answers. Not to mention that Feyre is fucking almighty — she, the mortal, managed to kill a Faerie wolf with a single arrow, killed another evil Faerie, also with a single arrow, manages to capture a very powerful Fey that is said to be rarely captured and if it is, then the captor will most likely not survive. Not only does she capture it, she also lives to see another day after that encounter. Even the Highest of the High Fae falls in love with her because she's so damn special. This list also goes on by the way, I could continue with how her mother tasked her to take care of the family on her deathebd since she is so super specially skilled and stuff, even though it makes no fucking sense for a mother to make her youngest fucking child swear to protect her older sisters and father while still being a child herself, for God's sake. How messed up is that? Or, how about the fact that even the Faerie that hates her and wants her dead ends up liking her immensely. Sigh.
Tamlin, oh Tamlin. He wasn't much better. Out of the sheer goodness of his heart, he finds this "loophole" so that he won't have to kill, since killing is no sport for him and he takes no joy in it. He also really hates slavery and abuse and all that, he's a really, really nice and decent guy. He doesn't force Feyre or push himself onto her, he's overall extremely pleasant. Also, very unbelievable and unlikely. I don't know, but Tamlin's constant sainthood and inner goodness and high and mighty morals, as a Faerie, really rubbed me the wrong way. Coupled with the tragic past to squeeze some sympathy for him, he was simply too good to be true, even a fictional sort of true. I'll throw a bone here and say that he, at least, didn't drive me to utter desperation.
You know what? I'll even throw another bone and say that Maas did indeed create some truly compelling and intriguing characters here. Only, she never really gives them a main role, but rather, lets them slump around the sidelines. Take Feyre's eldest sister Nesta for example. She is a cold-hearted bitch most of the time, but so calculating and iron-willed that she flat out refuses to be deceived and betrayed. She flat out refuses whatever lot life hands her, and denies her fate with every single breath she takes. She is filled with hate and rage for all of it, and mad at her family for accepting and succumbing with no resistance, unlike her. She hates and hates with all her heart, but at the same time is concerned about the welfare of the family she mostly hates and cares about them so much so that she would go the ends of the earth for them. She had such an interesting conflict within herself and she was such a fucking great character. Why couldn't this book have been about her? I would have loved the hell out of it.
The world-building was nice. Mostly. There was a map, some names thrown around for good measure. I swear, it was like Throne of Glass all over again. I didn't know jack shit, but was supposed to get everything right the fuck away. Luckily, the world was quite simple and easy to grasp, so that I had it down a few pages in. Faeries are probably my favorite mythical creature, and I kind of actually liked the tweaks she made with Faerie lore and how she added even more Courts than the usual Summer and Winter; also how she then weaved these new additions together to form a wholly creative and original back story to this world. Nevertheless, the curse was poorly executed, because no one is ever straight with Feyre about it and it is extremely weird and complicated at first. Yes, I get it — the curse makes it impossible for them to talk about it with Feyre, but it is so damn frustrating to read about something over and over that you don't know the first thing about nor truly understand. And then, one day, one character just tells Feyre the whole story, every single thing, in one lengthy, not-so-glorious info dump. Yeah ... thanks to you, too.
In the end, there is this one word that appropriately describes my feelings for this novel: Frustration. Probably the word I used most often during this review, because I was so, so hoping that I'd like this novel, that maybe I'd want to read Crown of Midnight after all, because I'd like this so much that I'd be motivated to give Maas another chance with that one. Alas, nope. I'm now even less inclined to read that book, and I don't think I will. I will, however, read the second book of this novel. Even though ending with a really nice, happy ending and little loose threads, I am very much looking forward to the direction the sequel might — and, hopefully, will — take. Especially since it's probably going to be about Rhys, one of the few other characters I actually enjoyed.