*this review contains minor spoilers*
“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”
*Le sigh* I’m probably the only person in the entire world who feels this way—but I’m not ready to pack my bags and head to the Night Court. The first 70% of this book was so slow, and the only reason I didn’t DNF was because everyone kept telling me it would get better, and it did…marginally.
A loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, A Court of Thorns and Roses follows huntress Feyre as she is taken prisoner to Prythian, the fey realm, as punishment for the fey life she has stolen. A promising premise, right? Well, what we really get is a lot of angst, a lot of Feyre being useless, a lot of Tamlin being broody, and then finally, a weak and unbelievable love story.
I really wanted to like ACOTAR, I did. So many people whose opinions I value and trust love this book, but it just didn’t do it for me. I’d expected more Beauty and the Beast elements and much more faerie lore. Neither of those delivered, and I was especially disappointed by the lack of faerie lore. After just having read Holly Black’s The Wicked King, Sarah J. Maas’s faeries didn’t hold a candle. She teased us with some of their lore such as their inability to lie and vulnerability to iron, just to yank it away and say “oh never mind” when it became inconvenient to the plot. I wanted nastiness and trickery and politics and dark magic, and instead I got a lot of descriptions of fey male beauty and Feyre painting.
“I threw myself into that fire, threw myself into it, into him, and let myself burn.”
I’ll admit the end of the book became a lot more interesting once we finally got past the horrendous info-dump (I was so annoyed I didn’t pick up the book for week), but the ending was still predictable, and I’m sorry, but as soon as the giant worm was introduced in the first trial, all I could think of was the Alaskan Bull Worm from Spongebob—which dissolved me into a fit of giggles, completely eliminating any tension or suspense.
And while we’re talking about the ending—[SPOILER] why did Feyre, a huntress, feel so unrealistically and annoyingly guilty for killing those faeries, and why does everyone love Rhysand? I wanted them both to be merciless, and instead there was a poor attempt to redeem and forgive Rhysand for some atrocious things—torturing her so she’d agree to his bargain, giving her the faerie equivalent of date rape every night, and forcing a non-consensual kiss on her. Honestly, the attempt to redeem him left a sour taste in my mouth, and it would’ve been much more fun for him to be unapologetically nasty, clever, and playing his own game. And Feyre….oh our painting, useless, love-sick Feyre. I’m not even going to start on why it bothered me so much that she was stupidly guilty and overdramatic for killing the two faeries.
“Because your human joy fascinates me—the way you experience things, in your life span, so wildly and deeply and all at once, is … entrancing.”
Contrary to how it may seem, I didn’t hate ACOTAR, and it’s not a bad book. The issue for me was how much potential was wasted. SJM teased me with action and plot—when she commits to those two things, she does them REALLY well—but she was more focused on creating a love story between Feyre and Tamlin that, quite honestly, fell flat anyway.
Overall, this book just had so much wasted potential, and SJM’s true strengths and talents as a writer were lost to a lackluster romance and idle descriptions of Feyre’s meandering. I wish this book had been everything I’d expected, and while I’ve heard A Court of Mist and Fury is much better, I won’t be rushing to pick it up anytime soon.
“I love you,’ he whispered, and kissed my brow. ‘Thorns and all.’”