“The forest had become a labyrinth of snow and ice.”
The first sentence of A Court of Thorns and Roses already sets a tone for a darker, Sarah J. Maas version of the Beauty and the Beast, with an icy wood, just like the one outside Prince Adam’s castle in the classic Disney fairy tale. Maas takes her book one step further: it is not just a fairy tale, but a faery tale.
After nineteen-year-old Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature named Tamlin arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a magical land known only in stories, Feyre discovers that her captor is not a beast but a lethal High Lord of the faeries who once ruled the world. As time passes, Feyre learns to trust and eventually love the faerie, going against all that she has been taught. But a wicked power looms over Prythian, and Feyre must learn to stop it or doom Tamlin and his world forever.
While I still enjoyed this book a lot and enjoyed many aspects of it, I felt like it was a little bit of a let-down, coming from the genius of Maas, especially after just finishing Queen of Shadows. Of course, I still highly recommend this book, but I think given the quality of the Throne of Glass series, I may have set the bar really high. I think my biggest concern was the pace of the book. It felt a bit erratic, with quite a long period of relatively no action followed by super intense but short bursts of frenzied drama. I have no problem with alternating the types of events in a book, but I felt like the lengths were a bit too unbalanced. Otherwise, there weren’t that many more issues. Feyre (it took me forever to figure out how to pronounce her name) was a little too stubborn and sulky for me though. I get that she went through a lot of hardship and prejudice against the faeries, but her attitude got annoying after a while, which was a shame because I felt like she could have been such a wonderful character. I did enjoy reading in her point-of-view though. I have also heard people say that Tamlin was too flat. While I can see that he does not seem to have too much development, I will say that I have to disagree. I think Sarah J. Maas provided enough backstory for him, although more visible romantic build-up on his side would have been nice. I still really shipped Feylin though! I really enjoyed getting to meet all the secondary characters, especially Rhysand and Lucien, and I really appreciated the fleshing out of the villain. As always, the world-building was beautiful, and I really loved Prythian and the vivid descriptions, but I do wish we could have seen a bit more of the Spring Court politics. Of course, most of this lack had to do with the point-of-view, but still.
All in all, while this is my least favorite Maas book, it is still really well-written in almost all the parts, and it is definitely intriguing enough for me to look forward to A Court of Mist and Fury.