by Sarah J. Maas
To be published on May 5, 2015
by Bloomsbury Children's
Source: ARC from publisher for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
My take: I feel dumb for putting off reading this book. I had reasons -- which include a terrible cold over the past ten days that made my eyeballs throb.
But the main reason I put off reading A Court of Thorns and Roses was that it is a Fae book. I know I've blogged before about my Fae-averseness. To me, Fae are pointy-eared, sneaky creatures, and in my experience Fae plots typically involve lots of wandering around in forests, which is not my favorite thing to read about.
But I am happy to report that, Fae and all, I really liked this book. A Court of Thorns and Roses is somewhat of a Beauty and the Beast retelling (some have compared it to East of the Sun and West of the Moon, which has a similar plotline.) In any case, the book features a financially ruined merchant with three daughters, the youngest one a plucky girl who, while hunting to feed her family, ends up killing a wolf. When a Beast-like creature comes seeking retribution for the wolf's death, the girl is forced to leave her family.
I thought all the main elements of A Court of Thorns and Roses -- the writing, world-building and plotting -- were excellent. Like many Fae books, this story world features multiple courts (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Dawn, Day and Night) that promise to offer rich opportunities for future world-building. The second half of the book featured one of my favorite plot elements: Riddle of the Sphinx (though in this case the Sphinx is an evil villainess wearing jewelry made of body parts -- eeuwww...)
As I was reading this book, I was thinking about why Beauty and the Beast is the superior Disney fairy tale. Unlike Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, which feature insta-love and women being rescued by men, Beauty and the Beast has more intriguing story elements: 1) a slow burn romance, 2) a main character who falls in love with a man despite his outward appearance and 3) a heroine who has to save the guy, instead of the other way around.
A Court of Thorns and Roses has all these elements and more. Feyre is a prisoner in the Fae/Beast's estate, but she's determined and resourceful. The love story is definitely of the slow burn variety. My friend Lauren of Love is Not a Triangle (and a person who can't bear even the suggestion of a triangle) wrote a very thoughtful Goodreads review on why she felt she had to put this book down. So let's take a minute to discus the romance. On the one hand, I understand how Lauren feels. At one point in the story I definitely felt the possibility of a triangle, but after finishing the book, I don't see the story going that way. Then again, Sarah J. Maas' other series, the Throne of Glass books, have developed a very complicated love geometry, a triangle that exploded into a pentagon or maybe even something with more sides than that. So I can't say where this series is going, but I'm definitely going along with it.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is compulsively readable and highly enjoyable. I highly recommend it, even if, like me, you're not the biggest fan of Fae. (And if you are, you should definitely read it ASAP.)