If you enjoy fantasy novels, have I got a series for you!
A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first in a trilogy by Sarah J. Maas that is loosely based on the tales of Beauty and the Beast and Tam Lin. Feyre is 19-years-old and in charge of keeping her family (two sisters and father) fed and alive. While Feyre is out hunting, she kills a wolf in the woods who ends up being a faerie. Tamlin, a beastly creature, shows up and not so graciously gives her the option of being killed immediately for her actions or leaving her family forever to live with him. She chooses life. Things are not as they seem when Feyre arrives in the Fae world. The faeries aren’t all the monsters she grew up hearing about, and Tamlin might not be as beastly as she thinks. There is also a curse on the entire Fae realm that affects Tamlin, and will begin to affect Feyre as they realize she may be the only person to break the curse.
This is not usually the type of fantasy novel I go for. I do love fantasy, but more along the lines of Harry Potter and The Once and Future King. That being said, I really loved A Court of Thorns and Roses! The beginning is a little slow and heavy, but once the story gets going it is unputdownable, and I ignored my family for a good chunk of a weekend to finish it. The story is great and Maas really paints a clear, beautiful picture of everywhere Feyre goes: the bleak, cold village where she lives, the lush, extravagance of Tamlin’s lands, and a few other places I’ll leave out due to spoilers. The best part, though, is how Maas writes the characters. Often when a book is plot-heavy and action-packed, the characters are an afterthought. We read those books to find out what happens next, and the characters are simply vehicles for the author-chosen action. I don’t feel that way here. I was turning the pages to read more about the characters, as well as to find out what happens next, and I think that’s rare in this category. Feyre is a strong female leader and hero, and as you’ll find out, she doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do. She isn’t the simpering, meek female lead usually presenting in fantasy and romance novels. She can hold her own, and I genuinely like her. Maas really rounded out everyone, even the supporting characters, and I cared about what happened to all of them. Not every author can do that, but Maas can, and she does it well.
There is some cheesy writing, especially in the romantic scenes, but don’t let that put you off. Those bits are quick and don’t really detract from the rest of the story.
My one disclaimer here is about the novel’s categorization. The series is categorized as YA, but I really don’t think it is true YA, or was intended to be. Maas’s books seem to be categorized this way simply because they are fantasy novels, and as a way to increase readership. (And while I am in no way supportive of banning books or not letting kids read certain books, the sex scenes in this novel and its sequel are explicit enough that I would hesitate to hand them over to a kid.) I think this is kind of a shame, because there are plenty of adults who enjoy reading fantasy! (Raises both hands.)
The second book in the series is A Court of Misty and Fury, and the third and final, which will be released on May 2, 2017, is A Court of Wings and Ruin. I honestly can’t wait to find out how the story ends!