It’s that time of year where I become fixated on all of my favourite books in the run-up to Christmas before I do a new book haul of new books of those I’m given and the new books I get with book vouchers I get as gifts. This kicked off with A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Now, I don’t know how much you all know of the fantastic works of Sarah J. Maas but I wholly encourage you all to do some research into The Court of Thorns and Roses Series as well as her Throne of Glass Series, which are among my all-time favourite book series. I succeeded in converting two of my friends into devoted fans, I don’t think they regretted a minute of it.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is a fantasy book, a world of magic and a vicious, relentless divide between fairies and humans. When I say fairies, I’m not talking small, mischievous creatures with wings, luring young children into fairie rings or switching sick children with fairie children. I’m talking High Fae and lesser Fae, creatures of magic, unearthly and immortal beauty as they should be in legends. Warriors. This book and its following series are beautiful. I truly cannot think of a better word to describe them. The language and description of colours and lights and seeing the way that Feyre’s mind thinks and feels in colour is outstanding. The series is written in a manner that, although it is wholly fictional, it is almost relatable. Hardships in life are a burden we all bear, but this book describes such issues in a way we all thought we could never put into words. It puts love into pages of a book, you feel the way they do you, it is so hard not to feel the love and hurt and pain as they do.
The series starts with Feyre in the woods, hunting for food to feed her family. She is tasked with the job of feeding and caring for her family through a promise she made to her mother years before on her death bed. She heard stories from the townsfolk of wolves in the forest, great tower beasts much bigger than the ones from the northern wolf territory, just south of the borders of Prythian, fairie territory, but she is forced further into the woods to hunt for game to ensure her family survive the winter. In the forest, she encounters one of the gigantic wolves and fears that it is fairie due to its sheer size. She is at the edge of a clearing in the forest, and there is a small doe but unbeknown to the doe, the wolf creeps up on it, a hunter stalking its prey. Fayre panics, knowing the wolf could kill her and the doe, and her family would starve. It’s kill or be killed, she realises and lets the wolf take down the doe before shooting the wolf with her only ash arrow. She kills the wolf, skins it and then drags the wolf pelt and the doe back to her families hovel on the edge of the woods.
A little later it turns out that the wolf was, in fact, fae. Andres, a high fae sentinel for the Spring Court, one of the 7 courts of Pyrthian and it’s High Lord, disguised as a great beast, takes Feyre across the border to his court as payment for killing his sentinel. The Payment is demanded by the Treaty, a life for a life. The High Lord either killed her or let her live in fae lands for the rest of her mortal life. She has led her life believing fairies to torture and kill humans for fun, to keep them as slaves, and she would be within her right to think so after a war was fought long before to liberate the humans from their fae keepers. The Wall that divided the Fae and mortal realms was a result of the war. However, the High Lord lets her live her life, sympathetic to the hard life that she had led before and it is a culture shock to young Feyre. She is sceptical, it all felt too good to be true, and what was she supposed to do with her life? She had so much time now that she didn’t have to care for her family.
The number of ‘bad fairies’ entering the Spring Court increases as the months pass and the ‘blight’, the sickness that is affecting the whole of Prythian is worsening. Feyre begins to fall for the High Lord, but can a human and a High lord really fall in love? She begins to see through the lies she has been told over the months she is in Prythian and learns to read between the lines. Is it possible for a thorny, cold human to save the magical realm? Can she help to cure the ‘sickness’?
There is obviously more to the story than this, a great deal more, including characters you’ll love from the beginning (Lucian and Rhysand, Nesta and Alice).
“Do you ever stop being so serious and dull?”
“Do you ever stop being such a prick?” I snapped back.
Dead—really, truly, I should have been dead for that.
But Lucien grinned at me. “Much better.”
There is sass and banter. Understanding that this is a YA, it is important to realise too that this book gets… steamy. The description and detail of particular scenes had me a little more hot under the collar than I would definitely like to admit too but it only aids the realness, the emphasis on life and love.
This book gets us on a deeper level though. There is pain, and anger and a soft painters heart. It is easy to understand and feel so much in this book, to understand the struggles of a poor family, to understand the blind devotion loyalty of family even in trying times. It is easy to understand the thorns that surround us but hard to accept those whole love us regardless of those thorns.
It is fair to say that in the first book, we are all hoping for the ship between Feyre and Tamlin to sail. It begins as a tense relationship between two difficult people but begins to bloom into a soft and gentle kind of love.
“I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world.”
And you know that it will happen but we are glad that it does. Feyre finally has the time to breathe, and laugh and appreciate life and Tamlin shows warmth and compassion. Like every love story, there are problems, but for a shot at happiness, we tend to overlook it.
And Rhysand… How can you not love and despair for his character? He is beautifully flawed, broken and sarcastic in a way that makes you love his character all the more. In his first few appearances, you may not like him. He is selfish and arrogant with that gait and swagger that would cause the blood in anyone’s vein to boil a little. But towards the end, it is clear that there is heart in the High Lord of the Night Court and in it, there is a small space reserved for Feyre. I can relate to his character and through the excellent writing and description, you feel every lick of pain bestowed upon him.
“I didn’t want you to fight alone. Or die alone.”
(My heart breaks a little bit more every time). I feel that there will be a lot more to come from Rhysand’s character and there is definitely a much deeper character than the arrogant prick that he is portrayed as. All will be revealed in the second book.
One of the things I can openly admit to is having difficulty with is the pronunciation of names throughout the book. I noticed it, particularly when listening to the audiobook that I had one way of saying names such as Rhysand and the Attor but other people have their own way. However, there is a cute little pronunciation guide at the back of the book which is super handy.
I highly recommend this book, but more than that I recommend that you continue with the rest of the series. There is just more one more book currently, A Court of Mist and Fury, where we get enough Rhysand to make everyone’s insides throb a little. And the series continues with A Court of Wings and Ruin, and then with the novella, A Court of Frost and Starlight! Happy reading.
A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Court of Thorns and Roses