A Court of Thorns and Roses | Thoughts
Finally, a Sarah J. Maas I can get behind. I'm not in love with her Throne of Glass series—actually, I've only read the first two, and haven't felt the pull to read on...yet. But A Court of Thorns and Roses...sweet deliciousness.
Feyre is a human doing everything she can to keep her spoiled family alive after they've lost their fortune, and they are one meal away from starving. Wholly unappreciated, she has built walls to protect herself and dreams only of the day when she can see her sisters safely married and cared for by others; when she can sit in peace with her father and not worry about protecting anyone.
"That was all I could do, all I'd been able to do for years: focus on surviving the week, the day, the hour ahead."
This seems a bleak future (because it is), and when she has the opportunity to kill a wolf she doesn't hesitate, for more reasons than just the fur and meat he'll provide.
The chain of events this kill sets into motion is more than she bargained for, taking her away from the human realm entirely and into the beautiful and deadly lands of the Fae. Mysteriously, her masked captors are not treating her like a prisoner (not really), and are rather making efforts to ensure her every comfort and happiness.
The imagery Maas paints into her words, into the world of the Fae is breathtaking. This was a "stay up all night to finish" book for me, and as I stumbled blearily around at work the next day, I did not regret the decision. Complete coincidence that I read this right after Stolen Songbird, which had such a similar story line that I can't help but wonder if Maas took inspiration there. A human girl, brought in from outside the Fae realm to break a curse, finding herself not entirely resistant to the idea of staying with her captors and helping the cause...but Maas does it better. So much better.
Moving into spoiler territory now. While I loved the setting and the story line, there are a few things that irked me, first and foremost the convenient way that Tamlin falls in love. From the moment she's in his estate, before we or Feyre know anything of a curse or what her role really is, we get the feel that he is supposed to be wooing her. I love the classic Beauty and the Beast tale, but somehow when these two do fall in love I didn't feel the same magic. But I can move past it—Tamlin is an interesting character, full of good and I expect plenty of bad as well. Maas is crafting this Fae world to be a much harsher one than the human realm, so the brutality of Tamlin's—and the rest of the Fae—nature fits right in.
Let me just pause on the love aspect for a moment—this book has one of the best intimate scenes I've ever read in YA, and really leaves me wondering if this should be classified as YA at all. First, Feyre is a woman who is not swayed by the romantic idea of love; at the beginning we learn that she takes comfort in her village from a local man, whom she cares for but really just uses as merely an escape from the harsh existence she's come to know. Sex is matter of fact, it's what she needs to not feel alone, but she has yet to let a person touch her emotionally.
"I couldn't remember the last time I'd done it—bothered to notice anything lovely or interesting. Stolen hours in a decrepit barn with Isaac Hale didn't count; those times were hungry and empty and sometimes cruel, but never lovely."
Now we have Tamlin, whom she comes to love, and Maas doesn't shy away from the description of their love making like so many authors of the genre tend to do. I often wonder why it is easier to get into detail about rape, and the pain, but never take the same amount of care to describe what a loving act can be like.
With publishers grabbing onto the popularity of the YA genre right now, I've found the lines blurring beyond recognition. Sometimes I find myself reading a novel much more suited to middle grade, and other times full on adult. A Court of Thorns and Roses teeters on the latter.
Along with the adult relationships, Maas doesn't hold back when the plot takes a dark turn, and every page just got better and better until I couldn't remember the last time I'd blinked. The twist at the end would normally have me screaming cop-out!, but I am ready for Feyre to take her ferocity into her new, much less fragile self.
In her Throne of Glass series—at least the two I read—I got the feel that Maas changes her story and characters on her whims, never mind the development we've already gone through. The fact that I've heard some spoilers that confirm this theory throughout the rest of the books is a main reason I've yet to give them a go. ACOTAR is different, and I have faith that the conflicts Maas sets up with this conclusion, and the hints she leaves towards what may be coming, have nothing to do with suddenly changing tack. More—she's learned how to properly nestle in little hints along the way, and there's nothing I love more than complicated characters who promise to be much, much more than they seem.
"'Why do you think I'm doing this?' He waved a hand to me.
'Because you're a monster.'
He laughed. 'True, but I'm also a pragmatist.'"
On that note, I'll say that I am looking forward to seeing how Feyre copes with the outcome of Under the Mountain, after she has destroyed her human self for Tamlin, for his people, for her love.
Check this out on Goodreads as well!