A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, paperback novel, 416 pages, published by Bloomsbury in 2015.
At nineteen, Feyre has been the sole provider for her father and two sisters for the past five years. The family lives in abject poverty, nearly succumbing to starvation every winter, despite Feyre’s efforts to hunt in the forest. The land in which they dwell is not far from the border that separates the mortals from the realms of the faeries. Feyre has grown up hearing stories of the faeries’ cruelty and destruction of humans, and knows that it is dangerous to enter the forest near the wall, yet they must eat. She encounters a large wolf whilst hunting, suspecting by its size that it may be a faery, but kills it anyway. In exchange for the life she took, Feyre is whisked away to live out her life a captive of Tamlin and Lucien, High Fae in the Spring Court. She has freedom to move about the house and grounds, but is forbidden to leave their lands. While it is always beautiful in the Spring Court, a darkness has been building in the north which will change the land of the Faeries for ever. Feyre must find a way to break the curse or lose everything she has come to love.
Wow, what an incredible book. I enjoyed it immensely! It was fantasy with action and romance. The plot was fast, and enthralling. I was flying alongside Feyre with every twist. I had a serious book hangover after finishing this book! If the second book in the series was available already, I would have gone straight to the store for it.
It is much racier than many other young adult novels I have read over the last few years, with some sex scenes. It echoes the base elements of Beauty and the Beast, but it is so much more than that. This is not just about falling in love, it is about giving up everything for that love, sacrificing one’s entire self, displaying courage and loyalty no matter the cost.
The setting and landscapes came alive beautifully, and all of the characters were well written. I easily conjured up the images of the various faeries, which were described in excellent detail. I could have done with a little less mental imagery of the Attor though! The evil Queen, Amarantha, was quite scary. Bent on revenge and the acquisition of absolute power, she was not a faery one should cross. She was just full of hate, which made her a very nasty character, one which inspired fear, but also one which I fervently hoped would be overthrown.
Feyre was a great leading lady. I admired her bravery, strength and perseverance, but Lucien was actually my favourite character. He was gruff and rude towards Feyre at the start, but he was also cheeky and playful. He showed unending loyalty to Tamlin, though he also spent a lot of time making snide remarks and laughing at Tamlin, in a way that only best friends can treat one another. I often found myself smiling at his antics. Lucien and Feyre made for good verbal combatants. I liked Rhysand for similar reasons to Lucien. He was arrogant and cunning, but I enjoyed his verbal sparring with Feyre. Though he is very self-interested, and not at all trustworthy, I saw glimpses of a better soul within him. Tamlin I also liked, but he was more serious than Lucien, and so powerful he was almost frightening.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is suitable for upper high school students and contains violence, sex scenes and swearing. It is the first book in a new fantasy trilogy, with the second installment due out in May 2016. I am very excited about the next book!