A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

April 30, 2015 2015, 4 star books, faeries, fairy tales, fantasy, Kim, Sarah J. Maas 42 ★★★★

A Court of Thorns and Roses: ReviewA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Bloomsbury on May 5, 2015
Genres: fairy tale, fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads
four-stars
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

In the deepest winter forest an arrow is shot in desperation. The quarrel finds its target, but the consequences are far reaching and unexpected. Feyre, youngest daughter of an impoverished nobleman, has unintentionally killed one of the Fae and broken the treaty between humans and Fae. Now she must trade her life for that of her slain foe. Caught between death or handing herself over to live in the lands of the Fae, never to return to her family, Feyre surrenders.

This is a totally new fantasy world, completely separate from that of Throne of Glass. Feyre lives on an island resembling Great Britain that is divided among human ruled lands and the realms of the Fae (many blessings upon Bloomsbury for including a map for those of us “constant flippers”). The humans live in constant fear of the Fae, and the Fae live in constant fear of the ever creeping and mysterious Blight that is slowly leaching magic from the land. It is a place of perpetual dread.

I am typically a character driven reader and it is no surprise that the strongest aspect of the novel for me was Feyre. Sarah really has a gift for creating these wonderfully awesome (in the old school sense of the word) perfectly flawed ladies. I loved Feyre’s character. I loved that she was prickly and reserved, hard hearted and cold in her turns. Feyre has lived a hard life as the only source of income for her family in the long years since their fall from prosperity. When she essentially has to give up her freedom to save both her life and her family it is a pill bitterly swallowed and the reader feels it palpably.

To transition this bitterness into a love story is no easy feat, but is deftly dealt with in the talented hands of the author. I confess I am not so familiar with the traditional tale of Tam Lin but I absolutely saw the threads tying this to Beauty and the Beast, particularly the Disney version. There is a delightful (direct?) parallel between Feyre wanting to see/use Tam’s art room and Belle wanting to get her library. That is but one adorable example.

Feyre is slow to trust and understandably so. She is treated rather well by Tamlin, who is by all means kind and courteous and decent, and all his attending court despite the fact that she is there because she (unintentionally) murdered his friend. She is constant fear for her life. It isn’t easy to break down Feyre’s walls, but it is done and with acts of daring, courage, and trust. This book has a delectable hate-to-love romance that is not only sweet but steamy. It is absolutely one of the sexiest YA novels I have ever read.

There were just a few things that kept me from unreservedly adoring this book. I just could not stop being bothered by how quickly Feyre was forgiven by Tamlin and Co. for killing their friend. Yes, it turns out there is a reason for this, but I found myself entirely too distracted wondering if a reason would ever be revealed. And yes, it is eventually, but I wish that it had been addressed more in depth.

My other main worry is the potential for a love triangle. Rhysand, a high lord of the Night Court, makes his first appearance about halfway through the novel. He is clearly there to serve as a darkly sexy foil and also to serve up a good helping of mischief. I have a super low tolerance for bad boy love interests to begin with and when said bad boy is a potential love triangulator? Tolerance levels drop to “none.”  As a mysterious, morally ambiguous character I appreciate him. But when it edges into love triangle territory I tend to get less appreciative. We shall see.

This does, as per usual for a Sarah book, have a strong, emotional whirlwind of an ending. There are moments of abject horror and heartbreaking, breathless tension. I am not a fan of fae stories. If this wasn’t written by Sarah J. Maas it’s doubtful I would have ever picked it up. It is such a testament to the talent of the author that she could take a subgenre I feel largely ambivalent toward and make me love it.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a darkly glittering, magically twisted tale of faerie.  As with all things Sarah, each book in the series is bound to only get better and better. I am so eager to see where she will take this story. When all is said and done I place my faith that we will find Feyre victorious.

 

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.

 

kim teal

 

 

 

 

 

 

42 Responses to “A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review”

  1. Bethany

    Finally, finally read it and had ao much fun! Like many other commenters I’m not huge on fae, but yep, Kim, I’d read anything Sarah writes too. It would take a lot to deter me at this point!

    I’m actually more mixed/neutral on Rhys… I COULD see Sarah gracefully managing a dual interest/triangle (as gracefully as one can) and I wouldn’t mind the tension… AND I could see her wanting the relationship thread to be different from the fated Chaolena in TOG, so IDK…!

    All that being said, no way I’m touching that QUEEN OF SHADOWS teaser, it’s going to killll me!

    (and THANK YOU SARAH for not ending this book on a painful cliffhanger… though of course Book 2s a whole different ball game)
    Bethany recently posted…Isla and the Happily Ever After

  2. Anne-Claire

    Hi Kim,
    Thank you so much for recommending “A Court of Thorns and Roses”! Honestly, I was a bit weary because of the hype and the fact that I did not like “Throne of Glass#1”.
    But your review was very compelling and made me want to give a try.
    I am so grateful to you for this!
    As predicted, pfiouuuu! My cheeks are still flushed and I can’t quiet my heartbeat.

  3. J. Oh

    I cannot wait to read this book! Cannot wait, cannot wait. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales–and to be honest, I don’t know why, because I feel like the base premise is creepier than some other fairy tales, and I’m not a big fan of creepy. But, whatever. Glad you liked this and can’t wait to read it :)

  4. Angelique

    Tamlin was just…..whew. So was Rhysand. I wouldn’t mind being in the middle of those two. For real though, Sarah’s writing keeps getting better and better. I am so glad that she is getting the love that she deserves!
    Angelique recently posted…Review: The Falconer

  5. Morgan @ Gone with the Words

    You took all the words right out of my mouth! Loved your review and I agree with every point. The characters were exceptionally well written and I liked a lot of them, especially Feyre and Tamlin. I LOVED the art room/library parallel! And I’m worried about a love triangle too… I don’t think it’s necessary and I wasn’t a big fan of Rhys anyway. I’m intrigued by him, sort of as a Darkling-lite, but stay away from Feylin! (Just made that up, HAH). And yessss all the explanations for THINGS felt a little too deux ex machina but I was enjoying the story so much that I’ll let it slide. I was totally entranced by this entire world and story, might even reread as soon as I get my hardcover copy. I can’t wait to see where it will go!

    • Kim

      Oh man, Sarah is so great with her characters isn’t she? And the art room/library was like definitely 100% a callback to Disney B&B, right? I’m not crazy? And the love triangle makes me soooo nervous. I’m glad to find another person who isn’t too keen on Rhys because it seems like a lot of people really like him. I just can’t do the sexy evil guys. Even the morally conflicted/ambiguous ones. And Feylin! Haha I love it! I’m so relieved you pretty much feel the same as me! It seems like evvvvveryone was giving this five stars, and while I definitely really, really enjoyed it, it wasn’t quite at the level of 5 star perfection for me. Thanks for being in my cool club with me, Morgan. <3
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

      • Morgan @ Gone with the Words

        Not crazy, it definitely was! My very first thought. You know what’s funny, I did rate it 5 stars but I think I was in that haze because I read it in two days and just loved 90% of it and rounded up for that insane ending. But reading your review and agreeing with all of it makes me realize it’s probably more of a 4 for me, which isn’t a bad thing! But yeah. Not into Rhys and I don’t want a love triangle. We’ll see where it goes I guess!
        Morgan @ Gone with the Words recently posted…Morgan’s April Challenge Updates!

  6. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    What a beautiful review Kim! I loved this book so much, I would actually say it’s an NA novel with the sex scenes, but still it took my breath away. I wasn’t aware it was based on Tam Lin as well, but it makes sense. I was surprised by how easily they let Feyre go, although they did come around to it in the end and I was satisfied. Rhysand…I think there’ll be more of triangle in the next book. Glad to hear you loved it!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes Review: Diverse & light thriller

    • Kim

      Thanks so much, Jeann! I agree with you that this novel is much more NA than YA, but Bloomsbury classified it as YA so that’s what I’m going with. I honestly wouldn’t mind if it started a trend of sexier, racier YA, though. ;) And I mean, yeah, I probably shouldn’t’ve been as bothered as I was by Feyre’s easy forgiveness but I just couldn’t turn off my brain! Gah. I agree, I think the triangle (if there is one) will be much more prevalent in Book 2 but I am hoping against hope that it’s not!
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

    • Kim

      I know! It feels crazy that the book is finally (nearly) here! Also, how is it already May? :p And I can verify-if you were ever going to give a fae story a shot this is definitely the book to try. Sumptuous and gorgeous and lovely. :)
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

  7. Carina Olsen

    Goorgeous review Kim :D I am oh so happy that you mostly loved this book. <3 I cannot wait to read it as well. Just really hoping to love it too, lol :) But ugh. PLEASE don't make a love triangle in book two. Just, don't. The romance in this seems so amazing. There better not be a triangle coming, hih :) So glad you liked the book sweetie. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

    • Kim

      Hee I was so relieved to love it too, Carina. Ugh, can you imagine how devasted to ever read a Sarah book I didn’t like? Blasphemy. It seems like we’re all firmly divided. Either people loooooove Rhys or they hate the triangle. Still, even if the worst things I would never want to happen happened in a Sarah book I would keep on going. Such is my love. Hope you enjoy it, Carina!!
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

      • Carina Olsen

        lol, so glad you loved it :D But oh, I have not read any books by Sarah yet.. as I had to DNF Throne of Glass years ago, when I read an eARC of it, around page 80 :( It was heartbreaking for me, but I couldn’t get into it. Though I own all her books. And I shall try again sometime :D But not until I know for sure that that romance is working right.. ugh. lol :) ANYWAY. WAAAAAIT. Could you please spoil me on this love triangle thing? Does the girl kiss other boys? Or more than kiss other boys? Ack. Now I’m worried, lol :) Already peeked at the ending, and I’m happy with it, so I shall read this book soon, and hope to love it :D But daamn it. If there is kissing of more than one boy.. I do not think anything could make me like it :( so hoping there isn’t. But now I’m worried, hih :) Anyway. I adore how much you love Sarah and her books. That is oh so awesome :D
        Carina Olsen recently posted…Cress Tuesday #80

  8. Diane

    I’ve been looking forward to this for so long as I actually love faeries, fairy tale retellings, and Beauty and the Beast. So it’s kind of perfect!

    However…like you Kim I’m love triangle nervous. I thought after the pain that was HoF (I’m not even finishing the TOG series until she is done with all 6 books so I know where it goes. My trust is fragile about now) that this would be a series where I didn’t need to worry about that!

    So I look at her beautiful Pinterest boards and the TOG one is full of Rowan (almost no Chaol now) and the ACOTAR one is full of Rhysand (almost no Tamlin) and wonder to myself “Why does Sarah create these couples that I love and then not love them as much as I do?” LOL

    Oh well…I’m a grown up. I’ll deal. And hopefully when all books are finished I’ll also be pleasantly surprised and relieved. :)

    • Kim

      *grabs your hand and holds it tightly* Diane! Diane, Diane…you must have faith. I will be your guide. I will direct you to this pin from a few months back where Sarah clarifies that the only reason Chaol doesn’t appear too often on the Pinterest boards is because she has a very specific image of him and rarely sees anything that matches it. What she doesn’t say, but I am just inferring is that’s because he’s the most important. :)
      Screen grab here: https://i.imgur.com/lOOyNQR.png

      Also, the first three chapters of QoS are available right now. https://twitter.com/SJMaas/status/594902721167261696

      I can tell you what I’ve seen there so far is encouraging for the Chaelin ship. :) Have heart, Diane. I am here with you through this!

      With ACOTAR though I don’t blame you one bit if you wait for reviews on Book 2 to come out to see if the triangle ever blooms. Fingers crossed so hard. Honestly, I think it will only ever be teased. I don’t see it being a “real triangle” but that’s just my take!
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

      • Diane

        You are the best Kim…I never saw that pin!!! Thank you! I’ll keep positive.

        I went ahead and read ACOTAR and hoped I’d at least like Rhys, but he did so many demeaning things to Feyre (and others) that any other good intentions were not enough to balance it out and get my forgiveness. I can handle him but hope he at least doesn’t overwhelm the next book.
        Diane recently posted…The Winners Crime by Marie Rutkoski

        • Kim

          I know. I really hated the parts at the end (all of the demeaning parts you mention). I really can’t forgive him for it. My gut on this is that Rhys’ feelings for Feyre will ultimately be unrequited. I think it’s going to basically be a sort of Darkling situation. He’s just the dark, sexy villain added in there for tension. Oh well. We’ll see…
          Kim recently posted…Saint Anything: book launch + Sarah Dessen interview + giveaway!

      • Diane

        That comment also kind of makes it sound like he might die too though. But yes, her comments on Twitter and in interviews make it pretty clear Rhy will be part of a love triangle for at least the second book.
        Diane recently posted…The Winners Crime by Marie Rutkoski

  9. Nikki

    This sounds like it has great potential but I’m still on the fence. I have it on my TBR pile but there are so many 2015 releases that I want to read and this one isn’t quite up there with some of the others.

    • Kim

      I think this is definitely one of the better books of 2015 so far and you should read it! If you’d like I can try and help you figure out if this one is for you or not if you tell me why you’re on the fence?
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

      • Nikki

        I have a really hard time with the fantasy genre sometimes; especially Fae related ones. They tend to be really good to me or way too over the top. I don’t tend to have a middle ground for that genre.

  10. Jasprit

    I’m the same Kim, I hardly every pick up any fae themed books, they never usually end up working for me, but with the great success I’ve had with Maas’ books in the past, I knew that this book was one that I couldn’t miss out on. So I’m thrilled to see that we both ended up enjoying it, I am curious to see whether a love triangle will develop later on, it did seem that way mid-way through, but who knows, I certainly can’t wait to get my hands on the next book soon!
    Jasprit recently posted…Review: A Shattered Moment by Tiffany King

    • Kim

      Yeah, I don’t really know what it is about fae stories but they’re just not my jam. Ever since I read TITHE 10 years ago and every fae book I’ve sampled since…I just don’t care for them. But I adore Sarah’s books and I just couldn’t not read this one. Although honestly if she wrote a book about the periodic table of elements I’d probably read it! :p I’m really hoping there won’t be a triangle but it looks as though Feyre will spending more time with Rhys in the next book so…:\ But still, at the end of the day I trust Sarah!
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

  11. Zoey @ Uncreatively Zoey

    I think this is probably the most useful ACOTAR review I’ve read yet. Right when you were talking about how nice Tamlin was to her, I started thinking – why? Didn’t she kill someone? I think that’s probably going to annoy me for the whole book, haha. And from everything else I’ve read in addition to this, it sounds like there’s definitely a potential for a love triangle in the future. I’m just gonna have to hope SO HARD. Still, I can’t wait for my preorder to arrive! I love fairytale retellings and it sounds like everyone really enjoys that aspect of this book.
    Zoey @ Uncreatively Zoey recently posted…Review: Cinder

    • Kim

      Awww why thank you, Zoey! Ha, I’m glad you seem to be on my level. At least now when you read it you can (hopefully?) not be as bothered since you *know* that there will be an explanation. Fingers crossed! And yeah, there is definitely love triangle potential…but I am hoping against hope that it never actualizes. Rhys is perfectly well and good as a sexy, mysteriouso a la The Darkling. But there’s no need to actually go ahead and make him a legit love interest. But in any case you’re in for a treat, Zoey!
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

  12. Cait @ Paper Fury

    Omg, I agree COMPLETELY. I love SJM, but this has been my least favourite novel of hers, unfortunately. >.> I mean, the plot twist of why everyone was nice to Feyre made sense, but…it came too late for me. I spent the whole book thinking, “Yeah, they’ve kidnapped and imprisoned this girl to, ya know, PUNISH HER by giving her nice food, good clothes, never have to work…and they’re looking after her family. Yup. Super bad punishment.” -_- I mean it MADE SENSE later, but…eh. And plus when that reveal was delivered via a servant monologue?! It didn’t pack a powerful enough punch for me. **sigh** Still, it was a gorgeous book and the ending was totally phenomenal and scary. I kind of like Rhys though. xD
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Alice And The Fly // schizophrenia, bullying, and my feels hurt

    • Kim

      I did very much enjoy this book! But I would still say that TOG is far and away my preferred Sarah series. The entire time I was reading I was wishing so hard I could just turn off my brain and its pesky questions. “Whyyyyy are they being so nice to her??? She straight up murdered their friend!!!” I couldn’t get over it. I’m glad there was an explanation eventually but I had already spent so much time being bothered by it. Ah well. At least that won’t be an issue in Book 2! I’m really excited for it. Sarah books tend to just get more and more intense as a series goes on. Can’t wait!
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

  13. Lily

    Reviews for this one have me super excited Kim! Sarah is one of those few authors I completely trust so even though I know that ending is going to kill me and i’m not one for love triangles,i can rest great at night knowing I trust her and that she has something amazing planned. Brilliant review Kim :)
    Lily recently posted…The Secrets We Keep: Review

    • Kim

      It is a well deserved excitement, I promise! And I so agree with you in trusting Sarah completely. I can get real nail bite-y, and I know Sarah loooooves those evil endings that are emotional cliffhangers, but at the end of the day it’s all toward telling truly compelling and exciting stories. She hasn’t let me down yet!
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

  14. Alexa S.

    I LOVED A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES. But I’m pretty sure that won’t come as a surprise ;) Seriously though, Sarah really knows how to weave magic with her words! I can’t wait to find out what’s in store for Feyre and the rest in the next book.
    Alexa S. recently posted…Tunes & Tales: Four

    • Kim

      Hee! I think it will be a very strange day indeed when we ever find a Sarah book that we don’t love, Alexa. I loved how this one was so different from TOG but still so distinctly Sarah. I’m so eager to see where things go in Book 2…especially with all of those tantalizing clues from the Pinterest board!!
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

    • Kim

      I’m biting my nails so hard about that love triangle. Please nooooo. However! I do have the utmost faith in Sarah. Even the TOG triangle wasn’t much of a triangle and only lasted for one book. We shall see. Excited for you to read this one!
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

  15. Pili @ In Love With Handmade

    If there’s something I’m a bit wary about this book is the potential love triangle, but as with you, I have so much faith in Sarah J Maas, and I feel like I won’t be disappointed!! And with you giving it 4 stars? I’m pretty sure I’m gonna love it!
    Fantastic review, Kim!
    Pili @ In Love With Handmade recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #92!!

    • Kim

      Thanks, Pili! The potential triangle still has me worried too. But it at least is not really a factor in this book. It doesn’t really become a worry/concern until the end of this book. So I suppose it’ll be much more of a worry in Book 2. But I must trust in Sarah also. I’m sure whatever she has planned we will never see coming! Still, I wish I could just relax and enjoy Rhys’ deliciously evil character without worrying about a triangle. Ah well. We shall see!
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

  16. Amanda

    That ending nearly killed me. I always feel a little lost when I read books about the fae. I know next to nothing of their stories, yet I’m not sure where to start to read the mythology. I should probably stop being lazy and look into that.
    Amanda recently posted…Our Top Ten Books About Sisters

    • Kim

      I think Sarah just sits around brainstorming how evil she can make her endings. Many nefarious ways it turns out! But *sigh* I mean, it is a great part of why I love her. And maybe I’m being closed off, but I’m still not that necessarily interested in fae stories. This one is like a special exception because Sarah. Whoops!
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

    • Kim

      You are definitely in for a treat! I read it back in December and I had an awful, awful head cold and it was good enough to completely take out of my pain and misery. That’s a ringing enough endorsement right there. :)
      Kim recently posted…A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review