Book Review: A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sarah J. Maas

   
 

 
 
 

FACTS ABOUT THE BOOK

 
Title: A Court Of Thorns And Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Price: £7.99
Pages: 416
Genre: High Fantasy, Lovestory
Year: 2015
 
 
 

BACK OF THE BOOK

 
   
 

 
 
 

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

This story is a Beauty and the Beast retelling.
A Court Of Mist And Fury is set in a fantasy world in which both humans and faeries exist but are divided, both through a wall and through hatred for each other. Feyre is a 19 years old human and a huntress because she is the one to keep her poor family alive. Feyre and her two sisters live with their dad in a tiny home and have barely enough to eat. One day, as Feyre goes out into the woods to try to kill an animal for dinner, she comes across a huge wolf. She isn't quite sure whether that wolf is an animal or a shape-shifted faerie, but kills it nonetheless. Shortly afterwards, a beast storms into Feyre's home and wants to claim the one who has killed his friend, the wolf. As it turns out, the wolf had indeed been a faerie. The beast takes Feyre with him through the borders and into the Faerie realm. Feyre trys to figure out a way to escape that new life but she can't help slowly falling for that certain beast.
 
 
 

AGE RECOMMENDATION

My edition of this book has the following warning on the back: "Contains Mature Content. Not Suitable for Younger Readers." I cannot stress that enough! This book is insanely and explicitly violent and brutal! Please don't read it if you are sensitive to violence and also not if you are younger than 16. It was very often way too brutal for me, so keep the huge amount of violence in mind, if you consider reading this book. It's definitely nothing for fragile minds.
If you are not a native English speaker, I would also not recommend this book as one of your first English reads to you. There is a huge variety of English vocabulary in ACOTAR (abbreviation of A Court Of Thorns And Roses) that is not too easy to understand.
 
 
 
 

 

MY OPINION

 

 WHAT I LIKED ABOUT IT

 
The book is written so insanely beautifully and elaborately. That aspect struck me again and again throughout the whole book. Sarah J. Maas can definitely write extremely well. The wonderful writing made it very easy for me to basically flow through the book. It didn't take me too long to get into the story (I read the first 100 pages in one day.) and it also didn't take me too long to read through the whole book. (It took me 4 days.) That was both thanks to Maas' great writing.

The chapter length in this book is very great and makes it quite tempting to think "I'll just read another chapter", and then ending up reading much more than that.
 
 
   
 

 
It didn't take me too long to get into Feyre's world, wherefore the map at the beginning of the book was very helpful. I also liked Feyre very quickly because of her character strength and her passion for painting, which really interests me. I enjoyed her individuality and I always felt like it was a nice choice to read that story through her eyes. She never annoyed me and I was always on her side. She is definitely a great main character. Her passion for painting never went in the background but was always present: Whenever she encountered someone or something new she always thought about the colours she'd use for painting them/it. I really loved that.
 
I liked the attitude with which Feyre dealt with sex in this book and did not make it too big of a deal. She was not ashamed of it but rather embraced it in a subtle way. That aspect felt very fresh and new for a female main character and I loved it. Feyre generally seemed quite self-reflected and reasonable. Whenever a decision or behaviour of her struck me as being a bit strange, she often acknowledged that herself a few pages later. That made her seem very smart and admirable.
 
Feyre's abilities and the way she got out of deadly situations were really impressive and made her character seem very strong, smart-minded and a very worthy protagonist.
 
Since I heard before that this story would be a Beauty and the Beast-retelling, I was a bit confused when the book didn't feel like that in the beginning. In hindsight, it actually doesn't really take that long to make clear in which ways it is a variation of that fairytale. I definitely liked that retelling aspect and how it wove itself into the story.
 
I was almost immediately interested in Tamlin (the beast) and found him fascinating - probably because he reminds me so much of Beast from Beauty and the Beast. Feyre, however, didn't remind me of Belle, since she came from quite a different world than Belle and had experienced extreme poverty, that Belle never seemed to have to endure.
 
The unfairness of Feyre's sisters made me rage at the beginning of the book. I was so mad at her sisters and her father and couldn't believe the extreme negative feelings that grew inside me, after just a few pages into the book. Why do I write this in my "What I Liked About It" section then? Because I think those strong feelings helped me a lot to form a strong bond to Feyre and because the book instantely made me feel something. I just noticed how deep I was already soaked into the story when I had such strong feelings for it.
 
Now, at first I wasn't too opposed to the High Fantasy world. It felt nice to get slowly introduced step by step to this new world and to have that map as orientation at the beginning of the book. It did not feel like too much to handle because I wasn't thrown into it without further explanation but experienced it quite nicely and slowly at Feyre's side. When I now flip back through the pages I remember what I felt when I read a certain bit, which is again due to the fact that some parts are very greatly written so that I could imagine them quite vividly myself.
Unfortunately, that changed a bit, later in the book, but more to that in the "What I Did Not Like About It" part.
 
Like I said before, I was very much intrigued by Tamlin. I could feel the tension between him and Feyre right through the pages - which is always the best sign for chemistry for me. Their tension captivated me to the book and I always wanted more of them together. I also enjoyed how their flame sparkled slowly until it eventually burned brightly. It was a nice relationship building. At first, I was a bit sceptical whether Feyre's affection for Tamlin could be a Stockholm Syndrome, but because Tamlin made it quite often very clear, that he didn't held her captive and that she was free to go wherever she wanted, the story actually went further away from Stockholm Syndrome than the original Beauty and the Beast did.
 
Since there is so much violence in this book (more to that in the "What I Did Not Like About It" part), I hoped that sex would at least be equal to that. I find it always absurd when movies portray such explicit violence but shrink back at showing too much in sex scenes. That's so problematic.
Therefore I was quite happy when the erotic scenes turned out to be both wild and sensual in this book. Those scene have so much tension without being in any way too vulgar or too concealed. I really liked them. There weren't nearly as many in the book as there were violent ones, but the few made up for that with their heat and sexual tension. The two characters that were involved in those scenes, seemed to become one and seemed to utterly bond. Sarah J. Maas did a beautiful job writing those scenes. They flowed even more wonderfully than the rest of the book.
 
   
 

 

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE ABOUT IT

 
My biggest problem with this book were its High Fantasy elements. I haven't read anything in this genre before and had some issues with some things. Though I didn't struggle with getting into the fantasy world and with imagining it, I did struggle a lot with many of the creatures in the book. Some of the demonic creatures were just described in a very absurd way. In a way, that did not want me to see the book get adapted to screen. It's still a different thing if you can slightly overread certain things or if you get confronted with them on a screen. So I rather hope they won't make these books into a movie or a series. Some creatures, like a giant worm, were just extremely absurd. I put the book down for a moment when I read about it because I thought to myself "What the hell am I reading there?". There were other creatures - mostly some mixtures out of known animals - that also made me feel distant to the book because it felt too weird, too unreal for me. I didn't have that problem with the faeries but I could not stand those beasts. When Tamlin appeared for the first time in his beast form, I also found it hard to warm for that fantastic appearance. Only when I imagined him as sort of similar to the Beast of Beauty and the Beast could I feel better about him.
 
I found it hard to keep track of all the demonic creatures and of the way that each of them looked like and of their abilities. I had wished for a small encyclopedia of them at the end of the book. (There is a pronounciation guide for the names in the story at the end of the book, which I found quite cool.)
 
I did not like the last part of the book at all. The dreadful situation made me feel quite depressed and down while reading it, which was not a nice feeling. I will get into more detail of the last part of the book in the SPOILERS section at the end of my review.
 
My other big problem with the book was its brutal depiction of violence. The book described such cruel things - and when I thought it couldn't get any more brutal than what I've just read, I would find an even more explicitly violent scene on the next page. The cruelty was very often disgusting to read. I did not want to imagine most of what I read there - which is another reason why I really don't want to see this book get adapted to screen. I was really shocked by the violence throughout the whole book, but mostly at the end of it. On Goodreads (follow me here), this book is described as a "Bloomsbury Children's Book", which it is ABSOLUTELY NOT! I couldn't believe it when I read that.
 
Many situations were hard for me to imagine. Since everything seemed to be possible in this world, I often didn't know how I should imagine certain situations.
 
And although I extremely enjoyed Maas' writing style, I rolled my eyes at how often she used "He cocked his head" in this book for basically every male character. Besides that, there were also many repetitions of thoughts in Feyre's mind: She repeated certain warnings that had been given to her, unnecessarily often. The fact that every male seemed "to cock" his head added to the description of most of them picking at their nails. Those similar "moves" made it at times quite hard for me to distinguish between the two prominent male characters, Tamlin and Rhysand. Small things like these make them feel like the same character - only divided by the descriptions of their different physical appearances.
 
   
 

CONCLUSION

 
If you are going to read this book you have to open yourself up to a high fantasy world. The book does a great job at introducing the reader step by step into this new world at the beginning. But it gets quite absurd when a giant worm appears later on. These creatures felt too ridiculous to me. It's a representative of the High Fantasy genre and if you can't stand too much fantasy it is definitely nothing for you.
For me the fantasy was at times too much. I definitely need to read something real after this book and before I can continue reading this series. I am just not used to reading High Fantasy and it is a lot to handle.
The book is extremely violent and brutal at times. This aspect does not only make the characters in the story want to vomit at times but also made me as the reader feel quite sick. This book is absolutely not a children's book but an adult book. And even then it's way too cruel in my opinion.
But the writing style of Sarah J. Maas is incredibly amazing and a joy to read. Her writing never ceases to amazes me. She can write so well that I just flowed through the book at times. This talent also made it way easier to read through some bad scenes. Maas has to have a very vivid and clear imagination for her to be able to describe most of it so realistically. Because, although it is set in a fantasy world, the writing style helps a lot to make it feel real.When there's nothing nice happening there is always the way it is written that keeps being beautiful.
The few heated scenes feel so erotic and make up for the lack of many sexy scenes because the few that are in this book read themselves hotter than whole erotic novels. The characters seem to act perfectly together and seem to become one in those scenes. I really enjoyed them.
The protagonist, Feyre, is a strong and smart young woman and I admired her very much. I loved reading the story through her perspective.
It's hard for me to rate this book because it was a new genre for me. I definitely need a time out of that world now and will wait for me to feel an urge to come back to it.
It was certainly worth reading but also made me realise that High Fantasy might not be my genre. It's not too easy to enjoy a story if you are constantely trying to look past absurd monsters.
 
 
 

MY RATING

I award this book with 3,5 out of 5 stars.



 

SPOILER SECTION

 
 
 

MY OPINION ON SOME PARTICULAR SCENES (SPOILERS!!!!!!)

 
 
 
 
 
 
PLEASE DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK!!!





 
 
 
Although I should have seen the curse coming since I knew that it is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I was positively surprised by how everything had been planned from the beginning. I liked the soft rug pull BUT I did not like that Alis blamed Feyre for not telling Tamlin she loved him earlier.
I actually found it  a tiny bit rushed from Tamlin's side when he told her the first time that he loved her and was rather glad that Feyre hadn't answered him right away. I found it much more understandable for her to acknowledge her true feelings once she was away from the court and had distance from Tamlin to reflect and sort out her thoughts and feelings. It felt quite realistic to me for her to realise that she loved him once she was away from him.
And although no one could have told her about the curse, it still didn't feel to me as if anyone of the court had tried hard enough to make Feyre fall for Tamlin, for it to be justified to blame Feyre afterwards for not doing so quicker. It hadn't felt to me as if Alis had tried too hard to make Feyre look extra beautiful for Tamlin too often. It hadn't felt as though Tamlin had tried hard enough. It acutally had felt as if no one had forced Feyre to do anything but to live there and see what happens. And I really liked the liberty they gave Feyre and felt that only that way she could grow real feelings for Tamlin. I just found it so unfair and not understandable for Alis to blame Feyre for not telling Tamlin she loved him earlier. And that guilt, that Alis had given Feyre, was so branded into Feyre's mind from then on and I felt so sorry for Feyre because she didn't deserve it.
 
 
I didn't like the last part of the book at all: I didn't like Tamlin being so quite and therefore not really being present anymore. It felt too much as if Maas had wanted the reader to focus more on Rhysand during this last part of the book. I felt a bit manipulated that they just silenced Tamlin to put Rhysand more in the foreground. I would have liked it better to get a clearer image of what divides them, what differentiates them. It felt like Tamlin had just been replaced by Rhysand. At least Lucien never felt like anyone else but himself. Unfortunately, he didn't have as many scenes as the other two, wherefore I could only see him as a minor character.
 
I guess that Rhysand will get romanticised in the next two books and I'm not too sure what to think of that. He has behaved cruelly and although he was commanded to do so by Amarantha, it was still his doing. I feel rather distanced to him. Tamlin treated Feyre much better than Rhysand. And like I said before, besides that, Rhysand doesn't feel to have too different a personality from Tamlin.
That makes it hard for me to feel something for Rhysand because right now he just feels like a nastier version of Tamlin to me. And still I am a bit excited to read about the one week a month that Feyre has to spend at Rhysand's.
 
At first I was quite happy to have a riddle in the book. I like riddles in books because they are something for the reader to participate in. BUT the answer to the riddle had been so obvious and that bothered me a lot. I read through it and knew the answer immediately. It was so obvious that Feyre would go through all of the tasks because that would add more action to the book. I was so certain that the book would end with Feyre screaming "LOVE!" and was relieved when the book didn't actually end with her finally solving the riddle but continued afterwards.
It just bugged me that the answer was so obvious and that she could have avoided all these tasks and all these injuries. The whole last part of the book felt so unnecessary when you know the answer to that riddle and just want to scream it at Feyre to make the misery end.
I found it disappointing that the riddle was so easy to solve but at least that made Amarantha's comment "The answer is so lovely" more "fun".  I did like Feyre throughout the whole book but the fact that she didn't solve that riddle earlier took away some of her smartness for me.
 
I'm not too sure what to make of Feyre's transformation. I guess it had been inevitable for her to become a faerie.
 
I had expected a cliffhanger at the end of the book instead of a happy ending. That ending doesn't make me want to read the second book too fast since I don't want to shatter everything that has just been set back into place again. The ending feels rather settled and nice. The characters are in a place I might aswell leave them at. However, I will definitely read the next book since I already own it.
 
 
 
 

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