I have finally gotten around to writing the review for A Court of Thorns and Roses. I have just reread it for about the fifth or sixth time. I read it about a year before I ever started blogging, and I always find it difficult to do reviews in hindsight. Especially because I’ve finished the series and I’m not the best in compartmentalizing. I did do the review for the second book directly after I finished reading it for the first time (because by that time I had started my blog), and I also still have to do the review for the third. This is why the review format is slightly different for book 2, from the first and third.
I loved A Court of Thorns and Roses immediately. I knew Sarah J Maas from her Throne of Glass series and now that I’ve read both I can never decide which one I love more. It very much depends on which I’m reading at the moment. But give me a fairytale retelling in a fantasy setting and I am going to love you. Where Throne of Glass has some clear debut author-issues, A Court of Thorns and Roses was immediately much more put together. It clicked from the very beginning.
The book can be “divided” into two sections. In the first part, we meet Feyre. She is a girl who is thoroughly frozen because of all the hardships she went through. Her relationship with her sisters – which perpetuates throughout all three books – is immediately very interesting. Sarah J Maas shows she can write conflicted familial and female relationships: the way sisters can have deep-seated issues and still do that one thing for them you’d never do for anyone else. It builds Feyre’s background and ties her to the deathbed promise she made her mother, even though she clearly doesn’t want it.
What I love about A Court of Thorns and Roses is that Sarah J Maas takes her time. She does it with Feyre’s depression and PTSD in book two, and she does it here. Feyre needs to let go of the promise that is ruining her life, and she must learn to understand that by doing nothing she is actually helping more. It gives her the time and space to bloom. In this first part, it’s clear that Sarah J Maas follows the lines of the Beauty & the Beast story the book is often associated with. It’s a loose comparison, but a clear one, and it works really well.
But what actually putsA Court of Thorns and Roses over the top is it’s handling of the “second act”. After Tamlin sets Feyre free, she returns in a chapter filled with exposition. Amarantha enters the scene after always having been there in the background as “the blight”. Tamlin’s curse is explained, and Feyre sets out to set him free. When she arrives Under the Mountain, it becomes a different kind of story. The story about how far you would go, how much of yourself you would lose for love. Feyre breaks herself apart fully for love, and has book 2 to explore what it did to her.
I adore the trial with the Middengard Wyrm, I mean, seriously – how is that not one of the best trials you’ve ever read? Feyre is given time to build her character in the most significant way, now that Tamlin has saved her and thawed her. And the Feyre that comes out of that cold, hard shell is an amazing protagonist. Her character arc is so good, and Sarah J Maas manages to transform her without either version of her being boring or annoying. I loved Feyre every step of the way, even when she was hard to reach.
We also get to meet Rhysand. Now, of course I know what’s going to happen in the later books, but believe me when I say that by the end of A Court of Thorns and Roses I already loved Rhys. I was hoping for the direction in which A Court of Mist and Fury takes us (and that is why the second book is my favourite in the series). He is the sort of person that you immediately know is layered. He is not what he seems, and that makes him very intriguing because Sarah J Maas does not let you figure him out in book 1. So she rounds out her story, gives Feyre and Tamlin their “happy ending” (for now), and still manages to keep almost all of the greater plot hidden from view.
I love A Court of Thorns and Roses for many reasons. Sarah J Maas is an incredible writer. I love her protagonists (both Feyre and Aelin), I adore the Fae worlds she builds and the way she always manages to surprise me with her plots. I never know if they follow my wishes or if I change what I wish based on what Sarah J Maas is showing me. All I know is that I always want more. I have a soft spot for her secondary characters, especially in their interactons and especially the female relationships. I have never known a writer to do that so well as Sarah J Maas.
It does not show a lot in A Court of Thorns and Roses and that might be its only minor flaw. The first book is about Feyre’s development and does not leave much room for friendships because Feyre is not ready for them. She spends most of her times around males, and she and Lucien never actually develop a friendship. I find their relationship interesting, but it mostly centers around what it is not instead of what it is. I know a lot of people like him, but to me Lucien always does too little. The female characters in this book are mostly antagonistic – Amarantha, Nesta. It’s not until book 2 that we meet Mor and Amren, and that might also be why book 2 is my favourite.
I think you’ve noticed by now that I adore A Court of Thorns and Roses. It’s a beautiful story written by an amazing author. And the books just get better and better, believe me. If you are doubting whether or not you should read it, and you’re a fan of fantasy, fairytales, Fae and amazing heroines – pick up the book! And while you’re at it, start reading Throne of Glass too.