I read A Court of Thorns and Roses back when it first came out. Then when I went to start the sequel, I realized I remembered approximately 0% of this book. Like, other than the characters names I was out. There was nothing in my head about this book, other than a vague “I liked it mostly” floating around.
So I put it on hold at the library (I forced my copy on a friend, naturally) and waited. When finally it came, I immediately started it because I had already chosen it as one of my Read-Them-All-A-Thon books.
And usually, when I start rereading a book, when I start it again the plot comes back to me. Not this time though. Which is weird, because I’ve put books down before and picked them up MONTHS later and can remember what happened in the parts I already read. I think my brain failed me on this one.
This means that I got to read this book for the first time again, basically. I’m still left with that vague “I liked it mostly” feeling, but there are some issues with this floating around my head now.
Mainly I felt like the whole plot was very rushed. Like Sara J. Maas needed to keep this story under a certain length, and so things were rushed and not given the time that they really needed to develop correctly. You figure out really quickly that this is Beauty and the Beast but different, and it’s a very original retelling. It doesn’t have all the exact same twists, and the whole faerie thing adds an interesting element. Just, if it was given more time, more space to grow, it would have been really great.
The other main issue I had is with the characters. They’re not flat by any means, but it feels like they’re all missing a piece. Like there’s some vital part of their beings that just isn’t there. So you think you know what they’re going to do and what they’re going to say and they do something different and you can’t quite figure out why.
Below are more spoilery thoughts, so if you haven’t yet read this one I’d give this part a pass until you have. Just skip down to the All in All to see the wrap up! 🙂
I’m just going to start with her. I like the way that she’s shown in the beginning. She’s strong and she’s resourceful, but you know that she isn’t only those things. There’s a desire to paint and make pretty things and she has to suppress that in order to provide for her family.
Who, by the way, wouldn’t save themselves from drowning even if it was as simple as standing up. They are totally useless, at least in what we see from Feyre (and that’s all we get, so). Which is fine, I guess, I mean, you can’t expect people who got super used to living in a house made of gold to handle being poor well. Still though, I wanted someone to slap her sisters (maybe punch their dad, because he was the most useless) and tell them to get off their asses and DO SOMETHING.
Feyre, though, she’s the one who makes sure that they don’t starve. Then she kills this wolf who she’s pretty sure is a faerie. She tries to justify it by thinking that it was going to go after the deer that was also in that clearing, but really she just killed it to kill it. Which, of course, violates the terms of some treaty between faeries and humans.
So she’s taken into Prythian, the faerie realm part of her little island that she lives on, and just stops being.
She fights for a while though, she tries to get home but really she doesn’t try all that hard for all that long.
Mostly she just sinks right into that comfy lap of luxury and makes herself right at home. Then she decides that maybe she doesn’t hate faeries with every fibre of her being. Maybe she even is in love with this one that kidnapped her and took her away from her family. Actually, no, she definitely does.
This is the part that bothered me most in this book because it just all happens too fast. She gets to Prythian, she fights for about a month, then she accepts her fate, starts painting, forgets all about her family, and then just falls for the faerie who stole her. Seriously?
Just the pacing. It’s terrible. It all should have taken longer. Feyre is absolutely against the very concept of faeries in the beginning, and then a few months into being held captive in Faerieland she falls in love with one like she never hated them.
When her faerielove takes her home, though, she then decides that no she must go back. Because she loves him and because she thinks that she can solve all of the faerieland problems. What? No. I’m sorry, I don’t think that’s how this works.
But go back she does, and only then does the story get really good. There are terrible, magic faerie creatures, and trials, and fighting, and things actually happen! Finally!
This last part is where my problems with Tamlin, the High Lord, human-kidnapping faerie, begin.
He’s spent the whole book trying to love Feyre, and trying to get her to love him back because that will break the beast’s curse and all, but now he just ignores her? What?
The whole time that Feyre is there, Under the Mountain, where Tamlin was taken after she left, he pretends that she doesn’t exist. He just acts like he can’t see her. Which, kind of, is a way of protecting her, because the Faerie Queen wannabe Amarantha would kill her faster.
(Amarantha, by the way, is doing this to Tamlin because she’s basically in love with him and he doesn’t like her at all. So she cursed him and his whole court so that they were wearing masks for 50 years and to break it he had to make a human woman love him. As one does when one is rejected.)
But also, with the way that he was acting towards Feyre before he sent her home, he can’t ignore her. He’s so all over her all the time (and you get the details of alllllll of it) that him being this aloof and detached when she’s being tortured doesn’t sit right. The build up of their relationship suggests that he shouldn’t be able to do that.
Some Other Things
Lucien, Tamlin’s right hand man, just comes off as weak. In the beginning, he’s standoffish and rude, like he wants to be tough, but really he’s a burned marshmallow: black, burnt, and tough looking on the outside, fluffy goo on the inside. And I get it, he’s had a tough life and all, but he’s just so weak it’s sad.
Especially when Feyre is hurt in the course of her trials. He heals her once, and then yells at her for letting someone else heal her because she was dying and he didn’t come heal her. So she makes a deal with another High Lord and Lucien tells her off for it. Just no.
And that other High Lord? His name is Rhysand and he is so much more of a help than Tamlin and Lucien combined. He heals her, he helps her in her trials, he tries to kill Amarantha when Amarantha is trying to kill Feyre and just. He actually does things where Lucien and Tamlin try not to so that they can keep up appearances. NO THANK YOU. I’d take Rhysand any day of the week.
All in All
I say definitely read this one, if only because Sarah J. Maas has a way of taking less-than-stellar first books and turning them into something amazing. There is a lot of potential in this series, and with Maas at the helm, it’s gonna get good. Plus, the second book is already out, so you can just go to that right after you read this one. (It’s much longer, so definitely won’t have the rushed feeling to it, I don’t think)
Beware going in, though, this is more new-adult fantasy than it is young adult. Some of those sex scenes are just…they’re intense. They’re skippable (not entirely necessary to the plot), but they are there. Not a ton, just it’s a thing. So, you know.
What do you think about this book? Do you have any other fairy tale retellings that I should read? They’re one of my favorite things, because I try and find the original (or the Disney) version in there!