5 out of 5 Stars!
During a panel about fairy tale retellings (the same one where I met Christina Henry, author of Lost Boy), several of the authors mentioned some of their favorite retellings. One of the recommendations was A Court of Thorns and Roses, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
I loved this book!
The main character is Feyre, a teenage girl who has been forced to care for her sisters after her father is brutally injured by a group of thuggish money lenders. One of her sisters is sweet but highly dependent, the other is bitter and jealous. Their father is a broken man who is no longer able to work for a living, leaving his family starving during the dead cold of winter. So Feyre teaches herself to hunt. When one of her kills is a wolf who happens to be a fairy in disguise, she’s dragged to the fairy lands as retribution.
Admittedly, this novel took me a while to get into. Maas’s writing style is amazingly beautiful and complex, rendering scenes with vivid clarity and emotion. Considering that the narrator is both a huntress and a painter, this makes sense. In a land where fairies rule, starlight flows like water, and monsters roam, Maas paints each scene out in specific details to draw the reader into the world. This sometimes makes for dense scenes, but the whimsical and dark richness of the story is entirely worth it.
One warning with this book: not everything is as it appears. I was somewhat flabbergasted at first with some of the character interactions. Conversations don’t add up and characters don’t always act in ways that match their outward intentions. But don’t be fooled- there’s more going on here than appears. Pieces of the story all eventually fall into place, but not entirely until the second and third book. (I’m actually re-reading this novel and catching all sorts of hints I initially missed). The character growth in this novel and throughout the series was phenomenal and makes any of the initial annoyance toward the characters totally worth it.
This series is listed as YA, but seemed to fall more into the category of New Adult. Some scenes were a bit racy for your typical YA. But it was refreshing to see a female hero speak openly about sexuality and speak honestly and without embarrassment about her fling with a local village boy and about her body in general. In addition to warnings about sexual situations in this novel, there are also some strange instances of swearing that seemed almost out of place. Several scenes were very violent, including instances of torture, sexual assault, and gruesome murder, so this book isn’t for the faint of heart.
I give this novel 5 out of 5 stars and will say that Sarah J. Maas is one of my new favorite authors. If you’re looking for a beautiful and intricate new fairy tale series, give A Court of Thorns and Roses of try 🙂