A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas is a high-fantasy novel that is *loosely* based off of Beauty and the Beast.
When I first caught wind of this novel, I avoided it like the plague. Yes, me, one of the major contributors to Maas mania, avoided it. I was just so damn sick of retellings, especially Beauty and the Beast retellings.
I like a good retelling, sometimes. But I’m quite picky on them, and they’re supremely easy to royally screw up. If there is any author that could be trusted to do it right, it was Maas.
So, I let all of that hype get to me (as usual) and purchased all three novels all in one swoop.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is the story of Belle, er, I mean, Feyre, a young, painting huntress who is dragged off to an enchanted but cursed castle after she kills a Fae while hunting.
Going into this, I initially wondered how much it would actually remind me of Beauty and the Beast and, the truth is: not much. There is definitely some strong overtones in the first novel, particularly the beginning, but that quickly fades as the series progresses and becomes its own entity. I really appreciate that, because retelling that are too similar to the original are, to me, pointless.
But I digress.
A large chunk of the first novel is spent with Feyre exploring the castle, learning about the different Fae creatures that lurk there, and deciding who she does and does not like.
Tamlin, our “beast” if you will, is ruler of the castle and all-around shapes-shifting badass. Well, if you ask Feyre, anyway. Even when she still thinks he’s going to eventually use his beastly claws to slash her to ribbons, she doesn’t fail to notice the lovely tan-ness of his skin or the sparkly flecks in his dazzling eyes. Gee, I wonder where this is going.
She’s kind of all, “Well, this is my very last scrumptious meal, for sure. I’m sure he’ll kill me in the morning.”
Is it possible that, before this story, Feyre was captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts?
“Good night, Feyre. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”
What are the odds? Girl’s got quite a case of the paranoia. I mean, sure, she was marched out of her home and into a foreign land where she has no idea what they intend to do with her.
Still, our Feyre can’t decide whether she wants to faint or flirt. Typical. Her description of this hunky overgrown bear is:
“This beast was not a man…he was one of the High Fae, one of their ruling nobility; beautiful, lethal, and merciless.”
I will say that the first half of this novel moves rather slowly. There are some doo-dads around the Spring Court, and a few get-togethers, but it’s all pretty blasé. Even after Tamlin (the beast) and Feyre start hooking up, it doesn’t get much more interesting. I suppose because you can see it coming from miles away.
I didn’t really get encased in all the sensuality of it, either. I didn’t fall in love with Tamlin. He is alright, and pretty I suppose, but he is lacking. I don’t mean he is a poorly written character, but just that he isn’t my type.
All that being said, Sarah J. Maas gets major points for her imagery and word usage. She has very flow-y, lyrical language that I am a huge sucker for. While our time in the castle may have been a bit dull, compared to other things that happen later, it was certainly described beautifully.
There is a growing tension throughout the whole book that leads you to believe that something is quite amiss, but that really doesn’t go anywhere until the end.
Okay, so there are two reasons that I rated this book 4 stars, which is very good. The first is the writing. It is something lovely.
The second reason is the last 100 pages or so of this novel.
While the first two-thirds of the book move rather slowly, comparatively, the last bit speeds up to breakneck speed and keeps you biting your nails and chewing your fingers and all manner of nasty things.
After some key events, Feyre finds herself in the court of Amarantha, a beautiful Fae dictator who rules the Fae lands and tortures because, well, she can.
Feyre battles Amaranth for Tamlin’s life, and we see her go through a myriad of trials and emotions.
Yes, ma’am! I was getting a little nervous that Feyre had a very shallow well of emotions but, luckily, she begins to prove otherwise.
The last part of the novel is entertaining and completely exhilarating, and it more than makes up for a slower plot to start off with.