A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas

“The first snow of winter had begun whipping through Velaris an hour earlier.”

Feyre’s family have learned poverty, and for some reason this youngest daughter is now the primary carer for her crippled father and two insufferable sisters. All very Cinderella. But then Feyre (fey-ruh, as we’re told more than once, presumably to stop the fey-ray?) shoots a wolf while hunting in the woods, and the next thing the fairies are after her. Literally.

As punishment for killing a fae, she’s whisked off… to a life of luxury and ease, albeit against her will, and we’re in full on Beauty and the Beast retelling, albeit with illiterate (yet oddly well-spoken) Feyre as the anti-Belle. She soon realises that all is not right with this ‘Spring Court’, its inhabitants under a curse forcing them to wear masks at all times (hmm…!) and living in fear of something even more terrifying than the deadly beasts that hunt the lands.

If my dismissive tone hasn’t clued you in, I really did not warm to this book. The amount of eye-rolling I did was painful, and the writing style simply isn’t strong enough to carry you past the many faults and apparent inconsistencies. For example, Feyre arrives at Tamlin’s castle as a figure of utter hatred – well, she shot and skinned one of their friends, stands to reason. But within a blink they’re all being relatively kind and helpful, although she barely manages to be civil in return. She’s also dumb as a wheelbarrow full of bricks most of the time, making stupid choice after stupid choice. Which might not have mattered quite so much if not for the original build up as a ‘strong independent female’ – which becomes hugely snort-worthy as the story progresses and she… well, is not strong, or independent, but probably has a major case of Stockholm syndrome which adds large amounts of ‘ick’ at various points. Do not get me started on “the ritual that turns me into a ravaging sex beast.” Oh em gee, as they say.

About two thirds of the way through the book at least some of the things start to make more sense after a hefty dose of exposition, but it’s kind of bold to assume I’m not irked to heck by two thirds of the story so far!! And it doesn’t really improve. In fact, the ick factor ramps up to eleven, a lot seems rather obviously lifted from various movies in idea, and the ending is just… no.

Any positives? I complain a lot, but it wasn’t difficult to keep reading. I’d almost describe it as inoffensive if I wasn’t actually vaguely offended by the manipulation and the sadism in the name of character ‘development’. A small masochistic voice has me wondering about the second book – but hopefully I’ll resist. There is so, so much better writing out there rather than wasting your time on this.

NetGalley eARC: 364 pages / 46 chapters
First published: 2015
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses book 1 (of 6, 3 currently published)
Read from 3rd-17th August 2020

My rating: 3/10

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