A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas
Welcome to Part 1 of the ACOTAR series reviews! Leading up to the release of A Court of Silver Flames on Feb 16th, I am posting reviews of the rest of the series!
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.
Please note, this is a re-read review. I tried very hard to keep out any opinions I knew were influenced by the fact that I know what happens in the story later. Thus, spoiler warning ahead. Please don't continue if you don't want to be potentially spoiled.
"Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don't feel anything at all."
Feyre has to make tough decisions to provide for her family, who are ungrateful and even resent her for it. But, Feyre seems to resent her father and mother at the very least, and her sisters for not helping with their survival either. All around, happy family!
When I first read this, it seemed so fast and I devoured the book. This time around it was much slower. The first 65% or so of the book is slow paced, but it was somewhat necessary in my mind. It was build up. Of plot, of worlds, of characters, and I don't think the story would have been as engaging without this build up. That being said, I would definitely classify this book as slow paced upon re-reading.
It was always obvious that Tamlin and Lucien seemed to be hiding something from Feyre, and once you find out what it is, all the romantic build up is kind of hard to swallow. It becomes obvious that whether he intended to or not, Tamlin was manipulating Feyre. Despite this, he does seem to truly care about her...I guess...
This plot was intended to be a kind of Beauty and the Beast retelling. I think it fits this intention, while also being different from the original fairy tale. Beast/man Tamlin, pretty mortal Feyre who has to fight a curse, house staff who are also suffering because of the said curse. Some of the finer details, like Feyre being illiterate, added freshness to the typical plot to keep it from being too predictable. However, knowing it's supposed to be a retelling does make it predictable plot wise. It's uniquely done, but still very predictable.
Tamlin felt like a flat character to me. He never really changed or grew throughout the story. He was developed as a warrior beast dude who was nice to Feyre but kept her in the dark about pretty much everything. The depth of personality was lacking and I would have liked to see some more something something in him. My favorite part about Tamlin was that he wrote dirty limericks and played the fiddle... we needed to see more of that "human" side of Tamlin, rather than him just being all serious all the time.
Lucien is sassy and has some depth going on. He wanted to hate Feyre for killing Andras, but after he actually speaks to her a few times, he starts to actually like her. And I think he wants to hate her more for making him like her... Love him. Fox boy 4ever.
Amarantha is a FANTASTIC villian. Ugh, love her but hate her. Her curse and the trials Feyre has to go through are wicked, some without her even knowing how wicked. Her motivations for being such a bitch are clearly defined and relatable, which makes her even better as an antagonist.
Rhysand... oh Rhys. What a dick. What a beautiful, conniving, jerk. He's also manipulative, but he's just in as bad a position as Tamlin was. So understandable, but still a jerk. Also, a merciful jerk? He didn't have to help Feyre, but he did anyways, and he gave her an escape from the torment while still holding up his facade of being loyal to Amarantha. He perverted Feyre's love for faerie wine and dancing, something he knew would piss off Tamlin. Granted, the escape he gave her wasn't really an option and it was pretty terrible, but she embraced it and it helped her cope with her situation nonetheless.
I liked Rhys from the moment we met him. He has so much depth in his motivations, which are still extremely unclear to us still. It's hard to write Rhys off as a "bad-guy" in this one, despite him being a pretty big jerk. He's just trying to do what's best for his people, and he's obviously willing to make great personal sacrifices for the good of his people. People are complex and have complex motivations behind their behavior, and he is such a complex character and I love him and want to learn more about him. Tamlin is not as complex in my opinion, and I'm not a fan of flat characters personally.
I've read this entire series. And re-reading this one was just eye-opening how much foreshadowing is in the first book. It was kind of fun finding all of the little hints of what's going to happen in the next books, and picking up on things you didn't notice on your first read.
All in all, this re-read didn't change my opinion of the book at all. I don't support some of the decisions made by our lovely male characters, but you have to also remember this is a high fantasy story and the world that Sarah has built doesn't seem to lend itself to modern schools of thought regarding acceptability of certain behaviors. So take it with a grain of salt I guess? It's still a good story with an interesting plot and characters. The world is well developed and engaging and it's so easy to get lost in.
I'm excited to continue my re-reads and see what happens in the aftermath of this whole Under the Mountain business. Stay tuned for my reviews of the rest of the series!
Thank you for reading! If you've read ACOTAR, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!