Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Series Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Date Added: June 15, 2016
Date Started: November 19, 2016
Date Finished: January 22, 2017
Reading Duration: 64 days
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
When nineteen-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 grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
When I first started this novel, I was immediately hooked by Ms. Maas’s compelling writing style. Each chapter ended in such a way to nearly force you to read the next, and I devoured the initial offerings in a very short amount of time. The realm of fairy and the human world were starkly delineated, though the former and far more powerful High Fae were a constant threat to humanity held at minimal bay only by an oft mentioned treaty.
I’m beginning to hate this phrase now, but Feyre is (initially at least) a great example of a “strong, female character,” the sole provider for her broken and impoverished family that she’s sworn to care for based on a promise she made to her now deceased mother. Her father was severely injured by his debtors, and her sisters are far too softly raised to do what she does, though I was impressed by how Maas threw me for a loop with her one, Nesta’s, true nature.
It’s not quite accurate to say that things go awry after Feyre kills he wolf, because subsisting hand to mouth in a run down cottage is not exactly prime living, but Tamlin taking her away means that Feyre’s family has lost their only means of survival, and the 19 year old huntress is now supposedly forsworn. The lord of the Spring Court; however, eventually assures her that her father and sisters are now well provided for, relieving Feyre of both her vow and life’s burden in addition to allowing the young woman time and opportunity to pursue the painting endeavors she so loves.
Despite using the name “Tamlin,” Thorns and Roses has more of a Beauty and the Beast vibe to it rather than the fore mentioned. Though Tam isn’t trapped in beast form, there is a nefarious spell laid upon his Court and its people that only Feyre can break.
Unfortunately, Maas’s exceptional writing cannot make up for certain lacks. In Chapter 18 out of the blue, Feyre suddenly ceases her rampant hatred for Tamlin in the rose garden and is suddenly attracted to him. There was no build up to this (that I could see) in any of the chapters before. The enemies to lovers trope can be a beast to pull off, because it’s so common, but generally you have one if not both parties torn between their physical attraction against rampant hatred or mistrust of the other. Then when the person does something that flies in the face of hatred/mistrust, the other begins to see them in a new light, bolstered by their already established attraction. Or you do it as a slow, gradual change of heart. It’s so quick in this story it comes off as unauthentic. It makes Tamlin *spoiler* sending her home in Chapter 27 *end spoiler* so no one will hurt her due to what she means to him have less of an impact, because it really hasn’t been shown.
An even bigger problem with Thorns and Roses is its issues with consent..
*Minor spoilers to follow*
This starts in the chapter about Fire Night. Feyre is ordered to stay in her room for reasons unknown to her. When she (obviously) sneaks out, Lucien, Tamlin’s emissary, literally picks her up and runs her back to her room (this isn’t the consent issue), because Fire Night is a fertility ritual, and if Tamlin knows she’s there…well, you can guess what’s going to happen.
The next day when Feyre runs into him in the hall, he tells her he could smell her at the ritual and it drove him wild. Then he bites her hard enough to leave a mark. Feyre decides to wear something to show off the bruise, and Tamlin blames her for making him act that way. Um, what the actual fuck? This is that same “I couldn’t control myself around you rhetoric” that rapists and rape apologists use.
It’s worse later when Rhysand is introduced. The fairy wine he forces her to drink has the effect of making her utterly forget what she’s doing (she just wakes up the next morning as though she’s passed out with no memory of her activities), and while there’s no sexual assault, he still touches her, makes her sit on his lap, and do other questionable things. It was irritating that the author thought because there was no sexual contact when Feyre was in this state that it was okay.
Even though the purposes are not entirely sexual, the other reasons for such coercion don’t really cut it. Ryhs explains that he wants to make Tamlin so angry that flies into a rage and immediately kills Amarantha, the usurper High Queen of Faerie who’s stolen all of the other High Fae’s power, when he gains his (Tamlin’s) back, and the High Lord of the Night Court will have enough time to escape before the Spring Lord takes out his wrath on him. This…is kind of a bullshit reason, because Tam is already pissed off enough to rip her in two for what Amarantha has done to Feyre and his own people, and it seems like Maas just threw this in as an excuse to have her main character molested by someone many readers would see as “hot.” While I sympathized with Rhysand’s plight, I detested his willingness to manipulate and use Feyre in a way that when scrutinized was only for his own pleasure.
*End minor spoilers*
The only fae I remotely liked were Lucien, the emissary originally from the Autumn Court, and Alis, the servant who gives Feyre much needed counsel before she faces the final boss.
I was on the fence about whether or not I was going to read the second book in the series A Court of Mist and Fury, which is going to feature more of Rhysand *spoiler* since Feyre made a bargain with him to spend a week a month in the Night Court in exchange for him saving her life, *end spoiler* but a few friend have told me that Maas addresses some of the issues I have with Tamlin, and though they didn’t mention anything about Rhysand, I’m hoping more about the Night Lord will come to light to not necessarily exonerate, but at least offer better explanation for his behavior in detailing the full story of his plight.