Sunday 29 March 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J Maas

 So I'll be honest, I got a little excited when I heard about this one. Sarah J Maas has been someone who I have been meaning to try for a while, and I am a bit of a sucker for retold fairy tales. So a new series that combined this author with a gothic retelling of Beaumont's classic Beauty and the Beast seemed right up my street. The fact that the book, when it arrived, was really rather gorgeous certainly helped too.

I really enjoyed this story. It takes all of the elements of the original Beaumont and Villeneuve versions of the Beauty and the Beast story and weaves them together with some more modern fantasy elements to create a really well plotted and well written whole. As in the original story, our protagonist Feyre, is the youngest daughter of a failed merchant. Her older sisters have failed to accept or adapt to their change in circumstances and Fayre has been left to be the one who supports the family through her hunting. Unlike the original story she certainly does not do this with good grace, Fayre is presented as a bitter, prickly and very angry individual. She has little time for her sisters or for her father; although she loves them and has taken a vow to protect and support them, she is not happy about this and feels it to be little more than a burden.
Much of her anger is directed towards the Faerie folk who live in kingdoms north of the human lands, and she distrusts and despises everything to do with them. This hatred comes to a head when she encounters a beast she believes may be Faerie deep in the forest. She kills the beast and takes it's pelt to market. This action results in Fayre having to atone for the 'murder' at the court of a Faerie lord. Even here the story continues to follow the Beaumont template; there are aspects of Fayre's new home that are hidden from her, she is unable to see her host's true appearance due to an ancient curse and she mainly interacts with the the maid sent to look after here.
What follows is a great story that combines some well done teen romance with a fair bit of action. Feyre must break a curse and defeat an evil queen in order to free her true love, and save the worlds of mortals and faeries alike. There is a fair bit here that has been done before, but it doesn't feel as derivative as something like Aveyard's Red Queen. There are a few twists and enough excitement to keep the whole thing fresh.
This is very much a young adult read, and I would say that it is suitable for older teens only due to the sexual content which may not be suitable for younger readers. The romance is very much aimed at a teen age group, but is still well written and not too cringe inducing. I imagine that the story and the dark-romance aspects will appeal to an older readership, and will certainly recommend the book to anyone who has enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Twilight or Discovery of Witches.  Overall I really enjoyed the read and will look out for the second in the series when it is released next year.