A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas – Review

Feyre has the full responsibility of keeping her family alive, and is forced to hunt in order to do this. One day, she has to pay the cost for one of her kills and ends up being imprisoned in the kingdom of the High Fae. But there are so many secrets at the Spring Court, everyone seems to be hiding something. Feyre soon faces the challenges that come with falling in love with one of the most powerful faeries, along with the secrets that have been hidden from her.

Firstly, I would like to talk about the plot. I found it interesting to begin with, but I think all of the events of the original story, as this was a Beauty and the Beast retelling, happened too quickly, and then there was a long stretch of not a lot happening for the middle, and a load of action packed in at the end. I thought the pacing was definitely off, and could have been improved a lot. Also, I didn’t really feel that this was a Beauty and the Beast retelling to be honest. Yes, it had all of the main events like Belle/Feyre being captured by the beast/Tamlin, but the actual idea of her looking beneath the ‘beast’ exterior and falling in love with the person hidden behind it wasn’t there at all. Ok, Tamlin could shapeshift, but I definitely got the impression that Feyre fell in love with his appearance, there was no mention of what she thought of his personality. The spirit of the original story was not there. I didn’t ship Feyre and Tamlin at all, and I got the idea I was supposed to.

In terms of characters, I liked Feyre’s passion for art, that was definitely something I haven’t seen a lot of in YA fantasy. To begin with I found her character interesting, how she was painting whatever she could, and the idea of her not being able to develop her skills in the conditions she was in. It seemed like at the beginning she was a skilled hunter, and we were shown this in the very first scene. However, this was all lost as soon as the story properly got going. She seemed to lose her passion for art whenever it was convenient for the author to not write about it, and all of her hunting skills and instincts seemed to disappear. She was kind of stupid to be honest, and I lost all interest in her character. I would have liked it if she had a bit more personality and was less bland. It seemed like all of her uniqueness was flattened out as soon as she arrived at the Spring Court. Tamlin was also quite a bland character, and I thought he was overly controlling.

There were some parts of this book that I found problematic, involving Rhysand. I was shocked at the fact that he treated Feyre in that way, yet it all seemed to be completely excused by the end of the book. I know a lot of people ship them, but I find that impossible considering what he did. There are all kinds of inadequate excuses for his behaviour, and I am sorry to say that I am not a fan of his character, or this series as a whole until these issues are sorted out. I have heard that it is all explained in ACOMAF, so I am hoping that this is true, although I do think this was a very poor decision of the writer to use this situation as a plot device to add twists or whatever. I disliked how he was still romantacised despite what he did. I think the book should have definitely tried to show what he did was wrong, rather than just letting it happen and making it seem like something to quickly move on from, whilst still portraying Rhysand’s character as attractive. Does anyone agree? I haven’t seen a lot of discussion about this, so I was wondering what people’s opinions are. My explanation might not have made a lot of sense, I was trying to keep it spoiler free. Although that probably wasn’t necessary considering pretty much everyone seems to have read this book.

There were some things I enjoyed in this book. Like I said, I liked the art aspect, and the writing for the most part, although there was a lot of telling rather than showing, which I wasn’t a fan of. But it was fairly entertaining, until the more problematic parts were reached. I liked Lucien’s character, he was one of the more interesting and nuanced characters. As well as this, I found Nesta quite intriguing, she did seem to change a fair amount throughout the book, during Feyre’s absence.

One huge problem I had, however, was the lack of diversity in this book. I am pleased to say that a lot of YA fantasy books being released are being more realistic in terms of their representation, and that this one actually stands out for the wrong reason, for not having that. I had a similar problem with the Throne of Glass series, I think Sarah J Maas definitely needs to step up her game in this area. That was another point actually, this book did seem very similar to ToG, which was slightly disappointing, as it would have been nice to see something a bit different.

I was definitely not a huge fan of this book. I found a lot of the characters to be fairly boring, although I did like Feyre’s passion for art and the character of Lucien. I found there were some problematic aspects to this book later on involving Rhysand, and I also thought the pacing was a bit off. There was a lot of telling and not showing, and also I think it would have been an improvement if there was more diversity and representation in this novel. However, I am interested enough to read the next book, and I am hoping it is an a step up from this one.

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14 thoughts on “A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas – Review

  1. Ahhhhhh okay, i will agree with what you said about the story if i’d only read the first one…butttttt i have read the other two, so I know why everything was written the way it was. It was all done that way for a reason, Maas thought everything through very well. Hang in there!!!! The second book honestly changed my life, it was a masterpiece.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You really have to read the second book to understand. She doesn’t necessarily excuse Rhys’ behavior but she does have an explanation for it. I felt so-so about the first book but absolutely loved the second. Maas was very smart about the clues she left in book 1!

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  3. I had the same issue with the pacing in book one, and I think book two handles that issue much better.

    I agree with Alex. Rhys is such a complex character, but that doesn’t come out until book two. I think Maas treats him with more complexity than nearly anyone else in the series. Feyre I just find annoying though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh yes there were definitely pacing issues. And I didn’t ship Tamlin and Feyre together either. I wasn’t a fan of it either. There are other things I could touch on, but won’t, cos of spoilers, so I’ll just say that while I gave book one the same rating as you, I did actually end up enjoying book 2- much to my surprise!!

    Liked by 1 person

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