This was a bright spot in what has recently been a spate of dull and disappointing fantasy books I’ve started and left unfinished. In addition to that Mass has been a bit of a mixed bag where her other books are concerned. When I started this, I was still concerned about whether it would hold my interest or not, but it was a surprisingly good read.
A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) reworks a couple of fairy tales, most notably Beauty and the Beast and Tamlin. What is commendable about this is that she makes them more interesting by adding more layers to the characters and the story itself. She incorporates the elements from the original tales and newer elements from her own imagination very seamlessly.
ACOTAR was very engaging and had been me in its hooks pretty much as soon as I started it. I was also very curious as to how Maas had reworked these tales. She does a great job of recreating these stories and making them uniquely her own; they were familiar and new at the same time. The pace of the narrative was steady and though it slowed down in the beginning when Feyre comes to the Fairy court, it doesn’t drag. It serves to establish characters and the relationships between them. The end, though predictable, was still well conceived. The world building was good if a little bare. I’m hoping that that’s something Maas will explore further in the upcoming instalments. I would like to see more of the other courts. Though, there is one specific court that will be seeing more of (and I’m not talking about the Spring Court) I also liked that the High Lords physically reflected their respective courts, that was a nice touch, but I’m curious if that reflection is only skin deep or do their personalities reflect them as well.
Also, when I started this book and through the middle, I thought this would be a stand-alone. And I was disappointed that yet again there would more in the series but then I thought that maybe we’ll have different characters in the next book. Having finished ACOTAR, I now find myself feeling excited about the next book and that was because of the way Maas ended this one.
Feyre was the main character and also the narrator. I actually liked her because she was a wee bit different from what I was expecting. Yes, she was the provider for her family and her family wasn’t exactly appreciative of her efforts but that’s where the similarities ended. She was stubborn, prickly, practical, and not particularly nice. It was her sister Elain, who was sweet and kind and all things Disney.
Tamlin, I wasn’t entirely sure about. In the beginning and through the middle, I did warm up to him and I thought that there were parts where he was gruff and then he was sweet and awkward in an adorable way but the end, kind of did him in. His absolute inaction in the last act didn’t win him any brownie points. And the one time he did act, he almost did something monumentally stupid that would have gotten Feyre killed.
Lucien was an ass for the most part but the kind you don’t hate. He also gradually grows on the reader and makes them curious about his past. He also becomes Feyre’s ally at a time when she most desperately needs one.
Rhysand was a little ambiguous in the beginning. But from the first moment we meet him, I knew that he would have a greater role to play. I thought he was the classic jerk that the heroine would be helplessly drawn to. And while he was a jerk, by the end I almost liked him more than Tamlin. He was mysterious and he perhaps did more for Feyre in the last act than Tamlin.
I hate love triangles, more often than not, they are nothing but pointless ploys to make the main couple realise just how in love they are. The main couple has already been determined (pretty much in the beginning itself) which makes the entire exercise futile. When Rhysand made his second appearance I was quite certain that he would feature in the love triangle. While that didn’t happen in ACOTAR, I am convinced that we’ll see the love triangle in the next two books and he will be featured more prominently. I thought that I would be miserable with that outcome but I’m actually glad for it. Feyre and Tamlin fall in love and they both go to great lengths to protect each other but I don’t think their love fared very well in the end. The things that Feyre has to do in the end change her fundamentally and I think that will affect her relationship with Tamlin. And I do like Rhysand more; he was more interesting and intriguing. But I am afraid that at the end it will still be Feyre and Tamlin and I will be disappointed because the whole time I’d have been rooting for Rhys.
As for Feyre’s family, of the three of them, I actually liked Nesta most. Her father had given up and Elain was too sweet, but it was Nesta who had the strongest spine (next to Feyre.) Part of why Nesta disliked her as strongly as she did was because of how similar they were. I liked her no-nonsense attitude and that even after their lives changed for the better, she didn’t bother tolerating those who had turned their backs on them when they needed help. Elain was sweet and an optimist but she was never annoying. It was their father I didn’t care for.
A Court of Thorns and Roses was a very pleasant surprise and a good deal of fun. The characters and the plot are very engaging and will leave you wanting more.
P.S. – That is a gorgeous cover!