A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: 5 May 2015

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Where To Purchase: Takealot, Exclusive Books, Book Depository


Sarah J. Maas is one of my favourite authors to read in the Young Adult Fantasy genre mainly owing to her Throne of Glass series. Whilst I’m not completely caught up on the series, I do thoroughly enjoy it and find her writing style easy to read and her stories multi-layered and spellbinding. A Court of Thorns and Roses is different to Maas’s first series in that it is marketed towards an older audience what with its mature content. Being a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I was interested in reading the novel but was not looking forward to the New Adult take on the romance since I am not one for steamy/sexual content. It’s safe to say that the latter definitely impacted my 3-star rating of the novel, but I did not expect the problems with the pacing and romance itself. Whilst I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses enough to want to pick up the next book in the series, it is not a groundbreaking retelling by any means and I was left slightly disappointed. What ultimately saved this novel from a lower rating was its gripping ending, despite the issues I had with the pacing and romance.

Feyre is a huntress and uses her great skills to provide for her poverty-stricken family. Whilst she does not fear hunting for wolves in the forest, she is afraid of what lies deeper within its darkness. Her worst nightmare comes true on what seems to be an ordinary day when Feyre comes face to face with the realities of living in a world where the Fae exist. Her hunt leads her to discover that killing a magical creature comes at a price – and the Fae are not happy. Imprisoned in Prythian, the enchanted kingdom of her people’s enemy, Feyre is free to explore her captor’s castle but forbidden to escape. Tamlin may be covered in scars and his face disguised with a mask, but his piercing eyes draw Feyre closer to him and his world. However, the mystery surrounding Tamlin and Prythian is not as magical as it seems…

I don’t think I have ever been so conflicted over one of Maas’s books. I found reading A Court of Thorns and Roses to be a slightly strange experience. One of the reasons for this was the pacing of the story. At first, Maas slowly introduces the reader to a lush, mystical setting and an independent, skilled young woman named Feyre who ultimately commits a crime by killing a faerie donning the form of a wolf. After this setup, one would expect heated conflict, heart-pounding action scenes, and an introduction to the history and culture of the Fae. Instead, Maas takes the reader on a slow walk into this other world, neither delving into any detail nor allowing Feyre’s character to be thrust into a challenging situation. The first two-thirds of the story heavily focus on slowly building Feyre’s understanding of her surroundings and captor, Tamlin, rather than taking the reader deeper into the mystery of this new world. Suddenly, the last quarter of the novel changes pace completely with fast-paced action, shocking moments, and raised stakes. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the novel but was disappointed that it took place so late in the story. The novel’s overall pacing is thus quite jarring, jolting from slow with little happening to a nail-biting, fast-paced ending.

The strange pacing of the novel would have been more bearable had it not been for the questionable romance between Tamlin and Feyre. This romance is written as more central to the story than the crime that Feyre commits and her subsequent imprisonment, which I thought was a much more interesting plot line. Feyre’s imprisonment is barely even that, considering that she is allowed to roam the grounds on which she lives and her every wish is granted. As much as the romance and Feyre’s treatment stays true to the Beauty and the Beast narrative, it does not necessarily have to. Maas could have challenged the Stockholm Syndrome aspect of the story but chose not to. Worse still, the developing relationship between Tamlin and Feyre is not ignited by a natural connection. Maas forces a relationship between the two where there does not feel to be one. Added to this, there are a few moments where I feel that Tamlin is sexually abusive towards Feyre, which many people have seemed to take as “sexy” scenes (I find them to be anything but). Their relationship was, unfortunately, more difficult to read through than the pacing of the novel.

Despite these issues, I still enjoyed the ending of this novel quite a bit. It may have read like a romance for the majority of the time but as the end drew near the action and intrigue went up quite a few notches. There are a number of elements that are included towards the end, such as riddles, that I love reading in novels as I feel like they add a fun, stake-rising layer to the story. The conflict became quite intense and I was completely sucked into the novel, wanting to uncover and understand the new mysteries introduced to me. Whilst the ending itself was not surprising and frames A Court of Thorns and Roses much like a standalone, I do plan on continuing with the series in hope that it be much like this ending.

As you can probably tell, reading A Court of Thorns and Roses was a bit of a mediocre experience for me. It neither blew me away nor left me tearing my hair out. My problems with the pacing and romance are the main reasons why I gave this novel a lower rating than what even I expected. The pacing made reading the story quite uncomfortable whilst the romance felt unbelievable and left my skin crawling at times. The ending may have been the action-packed, thrilling story I hoped for, but fell short of being good enough to warrant an extra star in my rating. Overall, A Court of Thorns and Roses was an okay novel, but the ending intrigued me enough to continue on with the series. Hopefully, Sarah J. Maas will bring her A game in book two!


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