A Court of Thorns & Roses (#1)
by Sarah J. Maas.
I’m a big fan of Maas’ Throne of Glass series, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on her newest venture. This latest book from Ms. Maas is one part fantasy romance, one part Old English lore, one part Beauty & the Beast, and just a hint of the tale of Persephone. In other words, almost all the things I like best. Ok, so there weren’t any dragons, but I suppose one book can’t have EVERYTHING.
ACOTAR (as it’s abbreviated on Twitter) is the story of Feyre, a downtrodden mortal struggling to support her seemingly ungrateful family with her hunting skills. One day she kills a strange wolf, and suddenly a faerie lord shoes up at her door, demanding her life in repayment for the (surprise) faerie she killed. Instead of death, however, he demands that she accompany him to the neighboring (and by all accounts luxurious) feylands, there to live the remainder of her life. There are worst things, right? Except the notoriously dangerous world of faerie is even more unstable than usual, with a magical blight slowly seeping over the land. And her host, Tamlin, is not the wicked, cruel fae lord the stories make out all of his kind to be, even if he is suffering under the enchantment of the blight.
The good: This is a mix of so many things I like, and is done well. Feyre is an engaging narrator and protagonist. Tamlin is a nice mix of gruff and considerate, and bad-ass warrior (Feyre is no slouch at the fighting herself). There’s a wit-slinging sidekick, and a harrowing quest, and a slow-growth love story. The writing is well done and paints a picture of the faerie world nicely. And most minor characters (like Feyre’s family) have a bit of depth, which is always nice. All ingredients for awesomeness.
The meh: The not-so-subtle setup for a love triangle. *sigh* I’m kind of sick of those, but it seems inevitable in YA books. It wasn’t grown quite to fruition yet in this first book, but the direction things are heading is clear. Also, the big villain of this book got only a very slim backstory and as a result felt like evil-for-the-sake-of-evil instead of some actual motivation. I didn’t really understand what the villain was aiming for, I guess, or exactly how they’d ended up where they were, which is always unsatisfying.
But the good far outweighs the meh. This was a captivating read, and I look forward to the next book in the series. If you like fantasy romance, you’ll definitely want to pick this up.