A Review of A Court Of Thorn And Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Here is your spoiler alert.

If you haven’t read it, go read it and then come back.

You can buy the book here!

I don’t want whinging that I ruined it for you. I like critical looks into books, and I want an open discussion. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me if you agree with me or not, but tell me why! Also, this article is going to talk about plot elements that are definitely for a mature audience. If you do not feel you can approach ‘literotica’ and sexy time in books:

read no further.

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I liked this one. LIKED. Not loved. Liked.

I give it a good solid 7/10.

Loosely based on Beauty and the Beast, ACOTAR follows Feyre (Fay-ruh!), as she is taken by a beast who demands her as retribution for killing his wolf that had crossed the wall that separates their two worlds. Through her time spent in the Fae lands under his “protection”, she fights for the answers he is unable to give. But when she fights for his love in a quest of 3, she learns more about her self than the beast.

What I liked:

Faes! I love the fantasy. I love the play with words and descriptions (note Feyre’s stubby nails, noting worry and concerns on page 76). Page 61, Fayre gives good insight to her character but saying “I didn’t mind begging – not for this. I’d given my word, and held to that word for so long that I was nothing and no one without it.”

At first I rolled my eyes at the map and its likeness to the British Isles; but, I like the way that the “kingdoms” are built within the story – what we can imagine them to be, but also see the “alliances” that are starting to form. I loved the emotion that is dragged out of us- the readers- towards Feyre’s sisters, mostly Nesta and her extreme difference when contrasted with Feyre. I loved the twists and the similar but different story elements of Beauty and the Beast – though I wouldn’t call it an homage – and because of that, it stands out as its own, you can completely miss those parts that point to Beauty and the Beast but still “believe” with the new story.

I liked that it was an easily believable first person narrative. When I think of annoying first person narratives, I think of Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell, where the writing feels like a first draft, or even Red Queen by Victory Aveyard, where the inner monologue is focused on her main characters and the rest of the cast is forgettable. ACOTAR is what I want to see in a first person narration – where we see all the clues as she is seeing them, but we don’t know exactly how the clues play out in the end.

ACOTAR is pretty, albeit toooooooooo long. It is the mark of a *great* writer to be able to create a world that sticks with a reader without describing it to death. The descriptions are pretty and other-worldly, but describing every little nook and cranny of the estate and the forest behind is a distraction from the forward movement of the plot. I don’t like comparing JK Rowling, and the Harry Potter books, with what a well written book should be (having an opinion myself as to what really makes it well written), but I do want to point out a contrast on magic world building: Rowling is able to execute the laws of magic with character situations that are so minute you can’t even realize it. In  a mere 72 words, Rowling was able to describe a law of how her magic world worked, how Neville was clumsy, Harry was somewhat judgmental, and Hermione could only learn things through books:

“Neville had never been on a broomstick in his life, because his grandmother had never let him near one. Privately, Harry felt she’d had good reason, because Neville managed to have an extraordinary number of accidents even with both feet on the ground. Hermione Granger was almost as nervous about flying as Neville was. This was something you couldn’t learn by heart out of a book – not that she hadn’t tried.”

My point, the ability to create a world and a depth of character in fewer words allows the reader to have more of an understanding of the characters, as intricate and understated as they are. In comparison, Maas illustrates the beauty, the glitz, the glamour, repeatedly to drive home the point that her world is, well, pretty.

There were no enchantments here – no pools of starlight, no rainbow waterfalls. It was just a grassy glen watched over by a weeping willow, with a clear brook running through it. We lounged in comfortable silence, and I glanced at Tamlin, who dozed beside me. His golden hair and mask glistened bright against the emerald carpet. The delicate arch of his pointed ears made me pause.

In the 66 words above. I learned that Tamlin was pretty and the world is extravagantly vibrant.

My problem with doing too much description of this world is that for 20ish chapters of ACOTAR the movement of the plot is languid – the doldrums. For the 160 pages, 20 chapters, we see very little plot development except for a glossy back and forth between THREE characters where we are narrated their every movement and the pretty background. FLUFF. It was fluffy.

Right, sex. I’m ok with sex in novels. I am ok with sex being a plot development point. I just wish that I had been warned. And the gore, I wished I had been warned. This is not a book for the blanket of teens (and sequentially adults) and should not be in the YA section – its a book meant for those that happen to be teens but are mentally old enough to surpass YA and wander into other literary sections.

My biggest irk was, “After what felt like an eternity,” on page 293.

You’re telling me that for the 292 previous pages Mrs. Maas was able to paint a pretty picture but she couldn’t be bothered painting the picture of time passing?

Fail. FAIL!

Especially when on page 55 she did so nicely by describing, “Bundled in my robe, I sat for minute after minute, the chattering of small birds in the garden beyond the windows the only sounds.” What a lovely way to describe the disorientation of time and surroundings but also the enjoyment of listening to birds, which could be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, half an hour… but that’s ok, she listened to birds and time passed.

It felt like an eternity” is a writers cop out. And I will hold any writer accountable for their, to quote Mrs. Maas on page 60, “piss-poor” writing.

My final irk was the name Fayre. Again, a cop out, tells me the inner-monoluge was I don’t know what to name my soon to be Fae human, oh I know, FAIRY, except FAE. No FAErah! It’s a silly cop out when the other names are pretty and have some slight thought to their naming- Rhys, being lovely and original.

All in all, I did like it, and I am excited to see where the next one is going. I want to see the rest of the world other than the Spring court and the underbelly of a mountain.

But I will DNF the series if she uses the “it felt like an eternity” cop out again.

Like the book? Want more from Sarah J. Maas? Buy the book!

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