Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Written by Charlotte Black

This story has three parts. Life before, life at the Manor, and life Under the Mountain. It would also be prudent of me to say I didn't think I'd like this book after the first few chapters. Much like when I started The Iron King series by Julie Kagawa, and having read Throne of Glass series from the very beginning, it's always a little strange to read something new from a writer you like. I didn't think I'd like this because I didn't think I was young enough to enjoy it.

In the beginning Feyre, (unusual name I had to come to grips with) is the sole provider for her family of two older sisters and a decrepit father. Feyre risks her life every day when she goes out to hunt so the others have food in the bellies. Feyre is a cold character. There is little joy in her life. She wishes her sisters could go off and marry so she can ignore the rest of the world, as the world ignores her. Despite all she does, only one of her sisters, Elain, is remotely grateful. Feyre doesn't have any choices either. She can't leave, there's nowhere to go. About two days north is a wall which keeps all humans separated from the world of Prythian beyond it. A world of the Fae.

In this beginning you feel a lot of hatred. Whether it's for the faeries who live a life of luxury over the wall, or whether its for Feyre's sisters who come across as altogether useless. Her older sister Nesta is a churning mass of misery and gloom. Feyre's father is useless in the way that he's resorted to being a cowering, insipid dog. There's little love here. The only delight for Feyre is either a few lost hours in the arms of her non-boyfriend Isaac or her painting. This is a world where rumours and appearance are prevalent in all manners of life yet while Feyre's sisters enjoy it, Feyre's heart is one of ice.
To be honest, this is why I nearly gave up the book. While the writing is clever in its depiction, bringing us into Feyre's world, the dark, hard life portrayed is miserable.

Feyre thinks her luck has doubled when she comes across a doe deer and a wolf. The wolf either wants to eat the doe or her. She kills them, skins the wolf (although it had crossed her mind it could be a shape-shifting faerie of legend) and carries the doe and wolf-skin home.

The next evening, for her crime against some mystical treaty between humans and Fae, she whisked through the wall to serve out her penance. To live among the faeries for the rest of her life.

Her saviour is Tamlin another shape-shifting wolf who has captured her because she killed his friend. Although she misses her family a great deal, she doubts whether they miss her at all, she finally accepts her fate, after a bit of toing-and-froing. Feyre begins to become a normal person, she doesn't have to fend for herself as food is widely available. She can keep clean, proving her dignity is intact. And she learns to laugh and not hide who she is. She develops a personality which was missing in her previous life.

But all is not what it seems as she begins to know that her many months of freedom comes with a price.

Tamlin's life is forfeit to an evil self-styled Queen--Amarantha--who wants nothing more than to rule the kingdom of Prythian. To keep her out of dangers way Tamlin sends her back to her family. But Feyre can't let her memory of Tamlin fade. He told her he loved her and she wants to help him be cured of the curse. She returns only to find Tamlin has been taken against his will to Under the Mountain.

It takes almost two thirds of the book to get to this point. From the beginning to here we've seen a whole character change to Feyre. Her icy, cold heart is gone. She becomes courageous and ever hopeful that although her human form is distinctly inferior she can help in someway erase the blight and get Tamlin back.

When Feyre enters Under the Mountain she becomes prey to Amarantha's predatory ways. Feyre knows from the outset her life may very well be forfeit but she has the fortitude to try. What upsets her the most is Tamlin's stony silence as she's paraded in front of this 'Queen', beaten to an inch of her life and thrown into an chilly cell. Later she must complete three tasks or solve a riddle and the curse will be lifted.

What started out as a fantasy of Fae becomes a fight to the death. While when Feyre lived at the Manor we were told of a life of colour, beauty and flamboyance it all disappears again and becomes reminiscent of the start of the book. The diversity of the story leaps off the page as much as the characters you begin to love and hate. I must admit I hated Feyre in the beginning. I wanted to scream at her for letting her family treat her so badly when she was doing what she could to keep them all alive. In the middle I liked Lucien, Tamlin's emissary, and he may have been forthright in demeaning Feyre but they soon reached a healthy alliance. But Under the Mountain the stand out character was Rhysand. He alone opened his heart to Feyre, although she didn't understand him initially. Rhysand was the only one who was able to keep her alive, no matter his faults or reputation.

Altogether, this could well have been a stand-alone book but that isn't Sarah Maas's style so the next book will no doubt lead us along another garden path. After all, the King of Hybern has yet to make an appearance and proclaim war. Feyre returns to the Court of Thorns and Roses and must overcome the devastation of her actions Under that Mountain. Somehow, I don't think Feyre will go down without a fight.

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When 19-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin — one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin — and his world — forever.