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

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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.

One of my goals for this year is to review every YA book I read, even if I don’t like it. I had high hopes for this book. It was billed as a take on Beauty and the Beast (which I love) and I’ll admit I was drawn to the gorgeous cover. Plus, I have read so much praise about Sarah J. Maas, so I really wanted to try one of her books. Sadly, this one just wasn’t for me. I almost DNF it and kept putting it to one side but came back to it and managed to see it through to the end.

It started off promising. In the opening scenes Feyre comes across as a brave and determined character and I liked that she cared so deeply about her family, even though they seemed a pretty ungrateful bunch. Having lost their fortune they are struggling to come to terms with their meager way of life. They are completely reliant on Feyre and her hunting skills. So far, so good – I was really rooting for her. And I was also loving the ominous sense of threat building in the background, with so much uncertainty about the dangerous fae in the neighbouring kingdom and the reports of sightings of them.

Everything changes when Feyre kills a giant wolf that is actually a faerie. Then fae lord Tamlin arrives, in the guise of a beast, to come and claim retribution. And, just like dear Belle, she must pay the price by going to live with him in his enchanted castle. Forever. This is where it started to go wrong for me. When Feyre was hunting to keep her family alive she had fire and courage, but wandering around the castle grounds she was just… well, a bit boring.

If you’re familiar with Beauty and the Beast you’ll have guessed what comes next, so no spoilers here: she falls in love with Tamlin. He, of course, is actually pretty hot when in his fae form, though Feyre can’t fully admire his face because he has a mask glued to it (part of the curse his estate is under). If you’re looking for hot and steamy scenes you won’t be disappointed, that’s for sure. But for me the romance fell flat because it felt so cliched and predictable.

There are darker powers at play in the kingdom of the fae, and it’s not long before Feyre comes into contact with various forms of faerie nasties. This was what turned me off the book altogether! The Naga, Attor and various other creatures just seemed ‘made up’ – I don’t know how else to put it – and silly where they should have been terrifying. It was a bit like when you watch a budget horror film, and the monster is really scary until you actually see it – and then it becomes laughable.

In the latter third of the book Feyre comes back into her own a little again when she has to fight through a series of challenges in order to save all she holds dear, and much more. I think that’s why I did keep reading through to the end, to find out whether she would succeed or not. But I don’t think I will bother with the next in the series. One of my main problems with this book, in hindsight, was probably the fae theme – I think I realised that I don’t really like reading about faeries! So, I do still plan to read Maas’s Throne of Glass – a story about a bad-ass assassin has got to be good, right?

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