I can’t believe I liked this as much as I did. I’ve owned a copy of A Court of Thorns and Roses for six years, and honestly had no intention of reading it after I became active on Goodreads and was made aware of how toxic the Maas fanbase could be. Yes, I know the author isn’t responsible for the fandom, and that it wasn’t the book’s fault, but I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and decided to stay away. But then my sister-in-law read and loved the series. As did Emma, one of my co-bloggers, who I consider one of the most intelligent readers I know. As did my best friend who, in the end, finally wore me down. But even after being convinced to give the series a try by people I love and whose opinions I trust, I still went into this book incredibly skeptical, which you’ll be able to see from some of the review below, which was written piecemeal as I read the book. I scoffed my way through the first third, and was completely enraptured by the rest. Honestly, I’m a tiny bit pissed that it won me over. But when I tell you I started the next book as soon as I finished the last pages of this one, I’m not exaggerating. I didn’t even give myself a five minute breather between the two. Is it the best book I’ve ever read? No. But do I get the appeal, the dedicated fanbase, and the widespread acclaim? Absolutely, I do.
Feyre, our main character, did not make a great first impression on me. Feyre’s family, her two sisters and her father, are the least sympathetic family I’ve read in forever. If I was Feyre, I would have left them to their own devices years prior to the start of this story. They don’t appreciate her even a little bit, which actually made me like her less. She put up with far too much for me to have much respect for her. Yes, I know that’s harsh. But alas, it’s true. That deathbed promise is a terribly flimsy excuse for putting up with that kind of treatment for that long.
I found Feyre’s reactions to her situation completely unrealistic. I can get past the magic, the faeries, the masks, etc. What I can’t get behind is being removed from a horrible home situation, being given a new home full of luxuries, being assured your completely unappreciative family is being well provided for, and still wanting to run. I understand that it adds tension, but her reactions made absolutely no sense to me. She was basically rewarded for murder, but all she did was gripe and try to find a way out.
There was one exchange that completely threw me out of the story. “You can’t read. How on earth did you learn to hunt and survive?” Paraphrased, but that’s the gist of a conversation between Feyre and Tamlin. What on earth do those two things have to do with one another? I mean, literacy is incredibly important, but we as humans “survived” for millennia before we developed written language. This whole exchange just baffled me.
The above three paragraphs were written during that initial scoffing I mentioned in the first paragraph. Once I got past the characters, the setting and the story completely won me over. And then, slowly, the characters grew on me, as well. I was particularly fond of Lucien and another character who shall remain nameless for now, but who I found incredibly attractive in spite of, and sometimes because of, his actions. Feyre slowly grew on me, as well, though I confess I liked Tamlin less and less as the plot progressed, and I’m not really sure why.
I feel like a good portion of those who loved this book also loved Uprooted, which was a miss for me even though I fully expected to love it. Both books had all of the building blocks of a story I should love, but I just ended up rolling my eyes through the majority of both. One thing I will give ACOTAR over Uprooted is that the former was propulsive, even when eliciting the aforementioned eye rolling. I read ACOTAR over the course of a couple of days, whereas Uprooted took me literal months to complete. And, while I did eye-roll my way through both books, I ended up really enjoying ACOTAR in spite of myself, which was never the case with Uprooted. There have got to be better Beauty and the Beast retellings out there. I can’t think of any off of the top of my head, but surely there are. While more Labyrinth than Beauty and the Beast, I highly recommend Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones if you love the setting and atmosphere of these books but were left wanting more. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give ACOTAR props for winning me over so thoroughly. When I first started writing this review, before I had finished the book, I felt pretty sure that it would be getting a 2 or 2.5 star rating from me. But it was a solid 4 star read, and I’m actually super excited to continue the series. And I’m a little bit mad about it.
(Side note: Can I just say that I loathe the new cover art? But alas, that’s what’s available now. Links below.)
You can purchase this book from: Blackwell’s | Bookshop.org (Support Independent Bookstores) | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Audible | Libro.fm (Another way to support independent bookstores!) | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide!)