Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Publication date: May 5, 2015
Summary (via Goodreads):
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin – one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin – and his world – forever.
It's not you – it's me. I wanted to be in a love affair with you. And don't get me wrong – there are so many things that I love about you. But we're just not compatible... or maybe the timing is off. Who knows? But listen – you'll do amazing things in the world, and I'm still going to be sitting there following along. I wish you every happiness in life.
This is a very loose re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, with layer and layers of secrets and twists. Dark and intense from the beginning and even more so at the conclusion of the book, once the end game is revealed to you and you start to retrace the strands of the complicated web that is ACOTAR. The last two-thirds of the story were the most interesting to me – maybe it's because by then I had come to care about the characters and understand the backstory. I will say that I was pretty disappointed to have figured out key parts of the story so easily. I like to have my mind blown, and to me, some things (like Amarantha's riddle) just seemed so obvious that it felt strange to have them as such crucial parts of the story.
It was a slow burn, I suppose you could say. A slow burn with some glimmering coals. A slow burn with some glimmering coals and sparks that jump up high into the air and nearly burn off your eyebrows and you're like JESUS CHRIST SAVE ME IS IT HOT IN HERE OR WHAT. I guess you could say it was like that.
As always, the characters are the most compelling part of the book, and Sarah J. Maas continues to be amazing at building out people who are strong in their own ways but also flawed – you can sympathize with them but maybe you're also frustrated by their actions or their attitudes or their human-ness or the way they choose to present themselves to the world. SJM is so stinkin' good at writing a complex character.
Tamlin, powerful faerie nobility and total babe (like I said, it's loosely based on Beauty and the Beast), is a remarkably likable person/faerie. After Feyre kills the wolf and sets off this chain of events, he gives her asylum, in what appears to be a display of sympathy – and continues to offer her kindness again and again. He holds a high position of power, yet he remains fundamentally good. We get to explore so many different facets of his character in ACOTAR – from seeing what he's like after the Fire Night celebrations, to his sincere conversations with Feyre in the garden, to his impassiveness Under the Mountain.
Feyre, I will admit, was the one character whose thoughts and feelings I disliked reading the most, especially in the last hundred pages of the book. It was like I turned the page in the book, and turned a switch, too – she went from a fairly neutral-to-admirable character in my eyes to suddenly unbearable, going against all the advice she'd been given, not thinking about the consequences to her actions, being so short-sighted. Maybe it's the result of having figured out the plot twists and other characters' motivations up front, or maybe it was just that she seemed unclever compared to some of Sarah J. Maas' other characters in other books (ahem, Celaena Sardothien)... I just couldn't gel with her in the end.
Rhysand, High Lord of the of the Night Court, is the one character who immediately intrigued me as soon as we met him through the end of the book. He's a dark horse, that one. He's someone who strategizes – intelligent, smooth, incredible at keeping secrets. He has a sharp sense of humor, he's incredibly self-confident, and while Tamlin may be the one who knows how to play a fiddle, Rhys is the one who knows how to play a person like a fiddle. I'm really excited to see what happens to him in the next few books. (God, I hope it is/isn't a 6-7 book series like Throne of Glass. My heart won't be able to handle it.)
So many other characters that I could talk about, but all I'll add is this: I've already decided that if ACOTAR ever becomes a movie, Amarantha will be played by Helena Bonham Carter. There is really no one else.