A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: ACOTAR #1
Publication: Bloomsbury on May 5, 2015
Genre: NA Fantasy Retellings
Page Length: 432 pages
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.
Whenever you start a highly anticipated read, there is always the question of whether or not it will live up to the hype. Many books just . . . seem to fall flat, however, I believe ACOTAR definitely did not. For me, the book started out on a high note, sort of plateaued during the middle, but then, totally ended with a bang. Feyre, our heroine of the story and provider for her poor family, is instantly likable for her fierce, driving spirit and strong will. We begin our story as Feyre wanders through the harsh winter woods in search of food for her otherwise destitute family. After a few pages, Feyre comes across a deer being stalked by a wolf. She kills both, bringing home the deer's carcass and the wolf's pelt to her family. Little does Feyre know, the wolf is actually Fae. The following evening, a seemingly ferocious beast, Tamlin, takes Feyre away to the Faerie Realms as retribution for his fallen friend . . .
Many readers feel the romance that develops between Tamlin and Feyre is the highpoint of the story, but for me . . . not so much. I don't know exactly what wasn't working for me, but their relationship definitely felt a bit strange and a bit problematic at times. And not to mention, a bit insta-lovey?
Another aspect that didn't quite work for me was the whole "mask-wearing plague." I get that the masks are supposed to "hide" Tamlin's looks so Feyre has to fall in love with a beast. Well . . . Tamlin is not at all like a beast. He can shape shift into a beast-like form, but for the other 99% of the time, he's in a normal, buff human form. And, he's nice. Polite. How can a girl possibly fall in love with a toned and tan man, huh? I don't know. What a mystery. I felt the whole point of the original Beauty and the Beast story was lost in this retelling.
However, that is not to say I didn't enjoy Sarah's take on the story. In fact, (besides the whole mask fiasco), I loved how Sara diverged quite a bit from the original. She took the foundation of the classic Beauty and the Beast, but was able to build upon it so much more to love. Specifically: The ending. Talk about a climax. Once I hit a particular page, I was hooked and binge-read all the way until the final page. Readers wanted action? Readers got action. Unlike some fairytale retellings, this one totally caught me off-guard, and I couldn't predict every twist and turn.
The absolute best part about ACOTAR? The characters. Each one was unique, interesting, and entertaining to read. Sarah is a master at creating well-written, memorable characters. In her TOG series, there are so many to love, and in ACOTAR, readers are introduced to an abundance of yet even more.
We already saw some awesome character development take place in this first installment, but I'm looking forward to the bigger character arcs that will run throughout.
And can we please talk about Rhysand? He is one of the most well-written, intriguing characters I have ever come across in a book. Right now readers don't know too much about him, so I'm more than excited to see how his character develops in book two and beyond.
All in all? Sarah J. Maas has done it once again.
You need this book.