A Court of Thorns and Roses

This book left me speechless and with a massive book hangover. It also left me with a need for more YA fantasies that involve faeries, though I’m not entirely convinced that any other author could create a world as breathtaking, vivid, and compelling as that of the world of A Court of Thorns and Roses. This faerie world is so complex. There are beautiful faeries and beastly, horrific faeries, and captivatingly evil faeries (*coughs* Rhysand). This world is so beautifully complex, and I applaud Maas’ writing. The horrors of every evil faerie was so vivid. Almost immediately I found myself sucked into this world, and completely enraptured by it. In fact, it’s kind of hard to believe it was written by the same author of the Throne of Glass Series. While I enjoyed Throne of Glass, the writing, world building, character dialogue, and imagery in A Court of Thorns and Roses (now referred to as ACOTAR) was  leagues above that of Throne of Glass. In fact, I would now say ACOTAR rivals The Infernal Devices series as Grace’s Favorite Fantasy Series, and that’s saying something. I’ll have to wait until the completeion of the ACOTAR trilogy to make my final decision though (*anxiously awaits May 3, 2016*).

Instead of reading the description of A Court of Thorns and Roses, I went into this book pretty much blind, which was both a good and a bad thing. It was good because I had no idea what to expect and found myself very pleasantly surprised by what I found. The only con was that all I had previously heard about the book was that a shapeshifting wolf takes a girl from her home. Naturally, I assumed this would be a book about werewolves, but picked it up regardless. I was very mistaken about that. Instead, this book actually has many parallels to Beauty and the Beast, and deals with faeries, not werewolves. ACOTAR takes place in a world where faeries have power and control over humans. However, they don’t directly rule. Instead, the faeries live in a magical land, divided into seven courts governed by High Lords; they are separated from humans by a large wall (probably a lot like the one in Game of Thrones). Feyre, a nineteen year old huntress, kills a faerie masquerading as a wolf while hunting for food to feed her starving family. She is then dragged away to this magical land beyond the wall, to the Spring Court, ruled by the High Lord Tamlin. There, she learns of a deadly blight that is slowly killing faeries, and has the potential to start killing off her fellow humans as well. Feyre is thrown into a world she doesn’t understand and loathes, but soon finds herself deeply immersed in it. When her heart begins to betray her, she finds herself not only in a fight for her life, but also for the fate of humanity.

What I loved about Feyre so much was her grit and strength. I’ve heard some say that she was weak and boring in comparison to Celaena Sardothien of the Throne of Glass series, but I couldn’t disagree more. Celaena was supposed to be a badass assassin, and she was. But Feyre outshines her inarguably. Feyre was never fighting for her own advancement or power. She was fighting for those she loved, both for lover and family, and we all know love is more powerful than the hunger for power. She also wasn’t as self-obsessed as Celaena was, which was nice. Thanks to her admirable strength, this was no damsel in distress story. While Tamlin did come to the aid of Feyre a few times she was the one doing most of the ass-kicking.  In fact, ultimately Feyre is the one who goes to war (metaphorically, not literally) and becomes the supreme hero of the story. It’s girl power at its finest.

Tamlin was, in a word, perfect. I don’t think I’ve loved a male protagonist that much since Will Herondale from the Infernal Devices Series. Some may argue that Tamlin only fell for Feyre because she symbolized freedom. There was a moment where I doubted Tamlin’s love for Feyre (stupid Grace). I had a moment where I thought, well, this is a Beauty and the Beast parallel. Tamlin is just making her fall for him so he can be freed of the curse. Silly little me forgot that even in the original the Beast falls for the Beauty. Tamlin’s actions crushed my doubts as soon as they arose. Gah, I can’t even express how much I love Tamlin. Rhysand, on the other hand…

Rhysand. Rhysand, Rhysand, Rhysand. Where do I even begin. His first meeting was the perfect indication of how that relationship would progress. Constantly mysterious, always leaving the reader confused and dancing though subtle signs. Let me be clear- I hated Rhysand from the beginning, from the moment his character was introduced. Then there was the whole slew of ordeals he put Feyre through, before his true motives were revealed. I still haven’t forgiven him. However, it’s pretty clear Maas intends to turn this trilogy into a Tamlin-Feyre-Rhysand love triangle. Tamlin is the Beast the Feyre’s Beauty, and Rhysand will be the Hades to Feyre’s Persephone. As angry as I am about this development, I’m too damn excited to get Maas’ take on that Greek Myth to truly be furious about the impending peril of my OTP. More than anything, Rhysand confuses me. There’s a moment where Feyre asks him what does he care, in reference to her life and fate, and he yells, “What do I care? What do care?” I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I felt like yelling at the book, to stop being so damn vague.

Aside from the main trio, there were a slew of other characters I also came to adore. I deeply appreciate Sarah J. Maas’ inclusion of Lucien as a character. Not only was he Tamlin’s closest friend, he eventually became Feyre’s friend and ally. He came to love her, in a strictly platonic, friendly way. It’s like Maas was raising a middle finger to all the haters and saying SEE?! Girls and boys can be friends! And I love her for it. It doesn’t seem to stop her from including a love triangle, but that triangle doesn’t include Lucien. I’m interested to see where his storyline goes though. We have seen far from the last of him. There was a lot of character development and growth throughout the book, I would have to say my favorite instance of it was that of Feyre’s sisters. At the beginning, my mind equated them with the evil stepsisters of Cinderella, they were just that deplorable. Soon enough though, you realize that Nesta’s cunning shrewdness is actually iron clad strength and steely resolve. Elain’s “head in the clouds” syndrome is actually a deeply caring and loving heart, too good for the horrific world she lives in. I can’t wait to see how their characters continue to grow and contribute to the plot.

The description of this book is slightly vague in the inspiration behind it. However, almost immediately it becomes clear this is a masterfully beautiful world full of Beauty and the Beast parallels. Sarah J. Maas took a classic fairy tale and added her own mystical twists to it, and the product is a breathtaking Beauty and the Beast storyline that involves faeries. Brilliant, am I right? What makes this book so much more than simply Beauty and the Beast is that the storyline is so much more complex and unique.  In fact, it would seem she has set the second book up to be a retelling of the Greek Myth of Hades and Persephone, and I. Am. Ecstatic. Greek mythology is one of my favorite things, and the idea that the talented Maas will be adding her own unique twist to the timeless story is beyond exciting.

There are so many reasons to read this book. The heroine is kickass. There are sexy, sassy male faeries. It has one of the most unique fantasy worlds I’ve come across. There’s magic, mystery, romance, and action. And the writing is fantastic. The imagery in this book was hauntingly beautiful. The Courts alone. Their names, the way they were divided up. I want someone to do a fanart painting for each of the courts; The Autumn Court, The Summer Court, The Spring Court, The Winter Court, The Dawn Court, The Day Court, The Night Court. SO beautiful. The plot twists in this book were mind blowing. You think you’ve got it figured out and BAM, new plot development that smacks you straight across the face. I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing a few times. If you’re looking for your next favorite book, I highly recommend A Court of Thorns and Roses. Seriously, drop everything right now and head over to the bookstore. Don’t deprive yourself of the greatness that is this book for a second longer.

**side note: if you haven’t yet, go to the “ACOTAR” tag on Tumblr. The fan edits are amazing. I’ve included a gallery of a few of my favorites below. None of the images are mine.**

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