Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas


This unique fantasy book is a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, following an independent female protagonist named Feyre. I adore Beauty and the Beast--it's one of my favorite movies of all time and has some of the best characters imaginable. Reading a book with characters and action loosely based on such an amazing story was awesome for me. The parallels between the two brought me a lot of joy, and I was actually incredibly impressed by the poignant differences between the two as well. For example, Belle in the Disney classic is a huge book lover. However, in this novel, a huge aspect of the story and the character of Feyre is that she's illiterate, and instead prefers hunting and painting. I found this striking opposition between the two to be an intelligent and thoughtful decision on the part of Sarah J. Maas.

This book has a lot to offer. It's an incredible world-building experience, a very action and character-driven introduction to a series that I can't wait to continue on with. The fantasy elements are extremely unique and enchanting, but also incredibly dark at times. Maas combines just the right amounts of lightness and beautiful magic, with equal parts intensity and terror. There are haunting monsters, a mysterious, brutal villainess, and some truly dark moments throughout. There is also light, romance and joy in equal shares.

This is a book that examines familial relationships as well as physical and romantic relationships. I loved the non-traditional aspects of Feyre's family life. Her father and sisters weren't typical characters at all--they weren't a perfect loving family. But Feyre's continued dedication to a family that didn't support her as much as they should displayed more about her character than about theirs. It was yet another tactic for depicting her dedication, courage and independent spirit.

This book is definitely heavy handed on the romance and sometimes-brutal violence. Some critics of this book disliked those aspects of it. However, I had no problem with them, and thought that Maas did an amazing job at never holding back in this book. She went all in on every aspect of it, and I'm extremely glad that she did. I will caution that I definitely would consider this book more adult than young adult. The violence, language and erotic content make it a little more mature than a typical young adult book.

One of my only complaints, and the main reason that I rated this book half a star below perfect, was what I felt to be a lack of suspense or shock at the conclusion of the book. In many other books, Harry Potter and Red Queen being the first that come to mind, I felt severe anxiety and intensity in the final portions of the books. They had me on the edge of my seat, extremely attached to the characters and their plights. However, in this book, while the climax was incredible and suspenseful, it didn't do as much for me as some of those others did. I never felt that breathlessness or felt like I absolutely couldn't stop reading. I thoroughly enjoyed the book's climax and resolution, but still felt a tiny bit more could have been done at some point to make me feel that reader's panic that I actually love.

All in all, though, I adored this book. I've heard absolutely incredible things about the next book in the series, which I recently started reading. I can't wait to continue to be sucked into this world and it's constant intrigue.

Cover: 5/5
Steamy Romance Factor: 4.5/5
World-Building: 4/5

{I've decided to start featuring beautiful bookstagram photos in my blog posts! The lovely photo above comes from @empireofthrones. Check out her account!)

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