A Court Of Thorns & Roses (A Court Of Thorns & Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 5 stars
The A Court of Thorns and Roses series has been everywhere in the book world this month as the release of the third and last book in this trilogy had its release in May and everyone has been going crazy to read it. The author of these books seems to be held in such high regard by book lovers I literally had to give these books a try and see if they lived up to the hype everyone has been giving them.
Categorised as Young Adult books these can often be found in the bookstore with a warning sticker on the front stating that they do contain scenes that may not be suitable for younger teen readers due to scenes of a sexual nature and I would wholeheartedly state that up front, these are not books for the younger end of the Young Adult reader market but instead should be aimed at older teens and beyond.
This story is classed as a fairy tale retelling, loosely based on the Beauty & The Beast story but having read it I'd say that whilst yes you have themes from that fairy tale in there it isn't something that leads this book entirely or consumes the story. The story of Feyre, a young girl who lives in a poor and bleak village trying to keep her father and two sisters fed and cared for any way she can we find her at the start of the book hunting for whatever food she can to get them through the winter. She kills a wolf in the forest and brings his hide home to sell for what money she can. What she doesn't know is that the wolf she killed is actually a faire who has crossed the border between the fairy lands and the human world. We learn that years before the human world had been ruled by the Faire and that their retreat left the human world a desolate place, but now years later more and more incidents of Faire crossing the wall and harming humans are occurring and no one knows why.
Feyre is visited by a faire who tells her that because she killed the wolf she must either die to give a life for his life or she must come with him and live in the Faire world for the rest of her life. With little option, she goes with him back to his home where she finds out that he is the High Fae and ruler of one of the seven fairy courts, his specifically is the Spring Court but there also exist the Summer, Winter, Autumn, Dawn, Day and Night courts. Instead of being unkind to her, Feyre finds that Tamlin is kind and thoughtful and only wishes for her to be happy and content. From there we are swept into a story of their growing love for one another.
The first 70 or so pages of this book were reasonably slow paced, Maas has a huge amount of scene and character setting to do and this takes us some time to achieve so initially the action is limited instead focusing on Feyre and the circumstances of her family and the travelling to the Faire world and her becoming familiar with all the characters of that world. What happens after this initial scene setting though is just magical. Maas paints her Faire world in such vivid clarity that it springs off the pages. Each and every chapter is filled with even more colourful characters and such a wonderfully gentle way in which she develops the relationship between Tamlin and Feyre.
The entire first half of this book is set entirely in Tamlin's Spring Court and focuses closely on this aspect of the story but we are aware all the time of shadows on the edge of this world creeping inward and that all is not well in the Faire world and that a dark shadow hangs over them all. Tamlin himself is cursed never to be able to remove the mask he wears and show his true self and Feyre is aware that something terrible cast this curse but doesn't know what. This leads us into the action-packed second half of this book which explores this curse.
I literally devoured this book in 2 days, I could not put it down. If I wasn't reading it I was thinking about it, it's written so vividly that it really stays with you in your mind. The characters are really engaging and we have a great mixture of the good and evil. It struck me as being a little bit like Game of Thrones meets Beauty & The Beast. There is all the fairytale love in part 1 and then all the vicious, violent politics of the seven courts and their ruler in the second. We even have a villain so evil she'd make Cersei Lannister look like Snow White. It is breathtaking. The second half of the book is all action, there is so much adventure and danger for Feyre that she has to overcome and the introduction of great new characters that expand the world and help us to understand just where this series may be going as we move into Book 2, A Court of Mist & Fury.
There are great moments where the plot unveils itself a little more and gives you a little more information as a reader and those are the points where I was shouting at my book, those Oh My God moments that have you wanting to jump into the pages and get involved. Awful twists and turns that really affect you emotionally and such excitement.
I loved this book so much, it was spectacular. It was by far one of my favorite books I've read this year so far. It was so much more than just a fairy tale retelling it was the setting up of what I know is going to be an amazing series moving forward.