A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas • Magan Reviews

book cover for A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas [twitter • website]
First Book in the Series
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Pages: 416
Target Audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: Faeries, Magic, Fantasy, Beauty and the Beast Retelling
Reading Challenge: Flights of Fantasy with Alexa + Rachel

Summary: After Feyre unknowingly breaks the treaty between humans and Faeries, she’s faced with the choice of living in Prythian away from her family for the rest of her life with the Faeries or dying to pay penance for the wolf she killed. She doesn’t know that her choice will lead her to love, luxury, danger, and longing.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

Gardens. Woods. Masks. Meadow. Danger.

This is what Sarah J. Maas’ work does to me: It makes my imagination burst and absolutely come alive. My goal was to find a few images that would maybe scratch the surface of what types of scenes were cinematically running through my mind, but Sarah’s writing is just so, so much more. There’s depth and detail and emotion and clarity. But best and most of all, there’s passion that courses through Sarah’s writing. It’s obvious she doesn’t rush a story for publication purposes; she mulls over all the details and intricacies until everything is so beautifully, wonderfully balanced.

I have a confession though. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t love A Court of Thorns and Roses as much as I love her Throne of Glass series. Well, false. The way this Beauty and the Beast retelling made my inner child resurface and blossom into something new and amazing as an adult (because let’s be honest, the connection between Feyre and Tamlin is …phew, steamy) was incredible. It gave me so much to relate to, even as a person who doesn’t read a ton of fantasy and often has a hard time getting absorbed in the world.

Feyre is a poor, young impoverished woman. Since her family’s fortune disappeared and her mother passed away, Feyre’s been solely responsible for making sure her disabled father and two heads-in-the-clouds sisters have food to eat and clothes on their back. She daily puts herself in danger’s way, but is extremely under-appreciated and often overlooked. One day as she’s hunting in the woods, freezing and exhausted, she has to make the decision to kill a wolf that’s threatening to hunt the deer she’s had her eye on. She’s hunted down by another giant beast because she’s broken a treaty between the humans and the Faeries. Her choice is either to live with the beast in Prythian on the other side of the wall that will forever separate her from her family, or die. She chooses to go.

In Prythian she takes up residence with Tamlin, the beast who claimed her from her home. He’s a shape-shifter, but mostly lives in his Faerie form, not all that unlike humans, but with curved ears, and a very attractive physique. Tamlin’s home (i.e. mansion) is a luxurious, spacious, and peaceful haven from the life Feyre knows back home. She’s torn between leaving her family behind (How will they survive?) and embracing the luxury of Prythian’s Spring Court.

Tamlin is frequently protecting the land, easily disturbed by Feyre’s abrasive attitude, and is extraordinarily giving even though he doesn’t have to be (and often, Feyre doesn’t seem to deserve his generosity). Lucien is Tamlin’s right hand man with a lot of gumption, a hot temper, a crazy sense of humor, and is very protective of Tamlin, leaving him very cautious around Feyre.

Feyre and Tamlin are essentially enemies. They’ve been brought up to hate one another. For nearly 500 years, it’s been Faeries versus humans.

Sarah J. Maas made me love everything about this childhood fairy tale all over again. I loved Feyre’s story — the escape from her depravity and meeting Tamlin, who pulls her out of her miserable fate to something so much more. Knowing what to expect, but with added elements of the scenery, haunting Attor and other creatures, and the brutal separation that leads the two lovebirds back together really gave A Court of Thorns and Roses its own identity.

And plus, how much more fun is it to read a grownup Beauty and the Beast retelling with super hot, steamy, sexy scenes? Sign me up for more of Tamlin and Feyre’s story, please.

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Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge

An early copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Why in 5: Wins for The Winner’s Trilogy (So Far)

The Winner’s Trilogy is the best example I can think of when it comes to books I wouldn’t normally pick up but I was completely convinced by the lovely people in this community that I needed to. I’m addicted to contemporary fiction but even I couldn’t deny my intrigue when I saw all the 5-star reviews pop up on on Goodreads for The Winner’s Curse. Even though I was expecting some kind of dragon or weird creature in this series (Harry Potter has done this to me), I didn’t move from my couch until I got through it. So very good, and even better — the second book in the series was just as great.

I find it so hard to talk about series on a blog. I don’t want to alienate those who haven’t read it yet, but I also don’t want to skip chatting about it if it’s worthwhile. I’m going to do my best to toe that line with five reasons you should pick it up — especially those of you who favor more realistic fiction.

1. Even if its set in this lush, divided fantasy world, these books dive into relatable issues. Ever torn between pleasing a parent and hurting your heart? Did you ever fall for the very wrong person? Have you ever lost connection with your best friend? I loved that Rutkoski explores all of these conflicts in The Winner’s Curse. It doesn’t matter when or where you live — we all go through these things.

2. Rutkoski is unafraid to write a dark, bloody book. Sometimes I wonder why it takes me longer to get through fantasy books compared to contemporary. I’m sure one part of the reason is that the terrain is different but there’s always this — it’s not so easy to get through a book that is so doggone sad and bleak. With families separated, empires are at war, and secrets by the handfuls, it’s not easy to get through so much manipulation, betrayal, and death. (It’s worth it though.) This author wants you to experience the full picture from the best moments to the difficult ones. (Might be why this series might be good for those who are apprehensive about picking up YA.)

3. Unexpected allies. There are two characters I really enjoyed in The Winner’s Crime that I wasn’t expecting to. I love being surprised in my reading, and I absolutely enjoy being forced to see another side of a person when I think I have their number already.

4. The beauty of this world. Despite the blood, inequality, and lies, I wish I could jump into the pages of these books and see these grand balls, Kestrel’s beautiful dresses, and oh gosh even her makeup sounds amazing. A lot of bad might be going on, but these moments of grandeur only add to the epic feel of this series.

5. A kick ass heroine. Many times during my reading, I found myself wishing I was as smart and sharp as Kestrel. Holy crap. She’s fiercely independent; she’s brilliant at strategy and god, she must have the best poker face in the business. As I continue to wax poetic about her, let’s talk about her selflessness. She does so much for the better of everyone else even if it sacrifices her own relationships and happiness. I would follow her anywhere.

Bonus: The tension between Kestrel and Arin is off the charts. I literally stopped breathing.

The Winner's Crime by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski ( web | tweet ) | Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux | Pages: 417
Target audience: Young adult | Keywords: marriage, loyalty, war, betrayal
Format read: ARC from Publisher. (Thanks!)
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