Author: Sarah J. Maas
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Audiobook Length: 16 hours 7 minutes
Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) is the first novel in the series of the same name. There are many camps for this series among readers as some love it and some hate. Others feel this one doesn’t live up to the rest of the series and others like it the same or more. I’ll be curious how I’ll feel about the series when I finish. This story was good, but, so far, it is not amazing enough to be called a favorite. Unlike the Throne of Glass series which started with a higher focus on the assassin/action-type plot points before the romances took over, for me, this novel seemed to take the opposite approach where it was apparent the romance is the center. Just like with Throne of Glass, it is too early in the series to tell which approach I enjoy more, so I will just need to read the rest of the series to find out.
The story begins by setting the scene for 19-years-old Feyre Archeron, a human, where the reader gains an insight into her home life, her family, and her hunting skills. The Archeron family used to rich before an unfortunate incident left them now in poverty. Feyre takes responsibility to the keep the family afloat for her father and sisters, Nesta and Elain. The family plays a smaller role in this story, but they are written as they will play a greater part later. If not, then I wish less time was spent on them in this story. If so, then this novel did provide a nice introduction to Feyre’s family. This introduction to Feyre’s character and human world was, at times, overly descriptive. I did enjoy the richer writing, but it seemed unnecessary as it could have been reduced and still had the same impact.
After killing a wolf, Feyre is taken to the land of the fae, Prythian, which features nine courts within the realm, on the other side of the wall that separates the kingdoms. As this story is supposed to be a Beauty and the Beast-type retelling. Feyre is “trapped” in the Spring Court with the High Fae Lord (Tamlin), who has a mask welded to his face that cannot be removed, in his kingdom. Throughout the story a curse is revealed that Feyre needs to help break, which adds to the retelling aspect. The retelling aspect has all of the elements of the source material, but the actual retelling does get lost among the rest of the story. I can see how some readers agree with it being labeled as a retelling and others do not. For me, I am leaning towards not as there are the basic elements, but it leans more towards “inspired” compared to a straighter forward “retelling” label.
As Feyre spends time in the Sping Court, she meets multiple other fae, such as Lucien, who is loyal to Tamlin. Their banter was very entertaining as I enjoyed Lucien’s character. There are moments where there are romantic undertones to their interactions, but I doubt anything will happen between them based on this story. Since this is a Maas story, I guess anything is possible and they could get together in one of the later novels. I still doubt it though. Tamlin and his court just want peace for their land and people. While in the Spring Court, Feyre also comes across Rhysand (Rhys), who lives in the Night Court. While he shows up sporadically throughout this novel, he definitely seems like a presence that will become important in the next books. He is written as the more “bad boy” that is confident and mysterious where the reader is told that he may or may not be one to trust. It is a fairly standard formula for a character of his type, but he was engaging enough that I did not mind and will gladly read more to find out more about him.
Looming in Prythian is Amarantha, the self-proclaimed queen of the realm. She resides Under the Mountain and has captured/enslaved many fae and their lands. For this portion, there is a slow build-up to the details of this villain, which I liked as it gave more time to explore the characters and their relationships. My only negative for this is that the devastation is shown to the reader a lot through the telling in descriptions rather than showing.
Overall, there is a large focus on Tamlin and Feyre’s relationship growing as the two of them spend more time together. They begin as enemies of sorts since Tamlin took Feyre away from her family and home. The two of them slowly lower their guards and the chemistry between them grows. While it is apparent how Tamlin feels towards Feyre, on her end it mostly seems just an intense attraction. As Tamlin is a fae and Feyre is human, there is a forbidden romance aspect to the story. Because of this, I was not invested in this romance, nor do I see it continuing in the next novel. Tamlin seems a lot more invested than Feyre from the beginning, so it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops in the next novel. Amarantha’s part of the story towards the end was rushed, but I did enjoy the events that occurred. There are many elements that I felt could have been improved in this story, but that could just be the author getting a feel for the series. It does read as if it would read a lot better if Maas did a brief re-write of it now that the series is over. Despite any negatives I had while reading, this is a series that I want to continue!