You’ve likely heard of Sarah J Maas if you know much about fantasy. She’s made a name for herself in the fantasy genre over the past decade-plus for smashing out some well-received female-led fantasy series. One of her more successful is the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. The first book in the series is of the same name – but is it any good?
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I’ve updated this review to reflect my reread in 2023. Some elements are my initial thoughts when I read it back in February 2022 and some are my updated opinions having reread it.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is up there on social media with many Colleen Hoover books as one of those series that all female book bloggers and Bookstagrammers/BookTokers absolutely rave about. Well, I’ve read a lot of great fantasy and some really well-done romance books and I can tell you now that this is unfortunately neither of these.
A Court of Thorns and Roses plot – 3.75/5
In a quick summary of A Court of Thorns and Roses: Feyre, unappreciated by her family is taken away by Fae after she kills one of their brethren. She then must live with them (oh how terrible), eventually ends up falling for one of them and then ends up having to save their entire kingdom.
I’ll be honest with you, the first third of this book was utter poo. Absolutely nothing happened of any real interest; all that happened was the main character, Feyre, spent every waking moment talking about and thinking about this good-looking fae called Tamlin she’s just met who is dull as dishwater.
Throughout the first 200 pages or so, I kept thinking: nothing interesting has actually happened. Yes, some moments have gone by that I could later describe as plot moments but none of them would make anybody go “Ooh, that sounds juicy”. So I was really switching off at this point. Plus the downright shallowness of the main character and her feeling of “falling in love” with this man she doesn’t know just because he was broad shoulders and a good jawline were really putting me off.
The latter third of the book, however, does save the book by focusing less on the awful relationship and focusing more on the rest of the world and actually introducing some plot and action.
This is definitely one of those books you don’t want to DNF halfway through if you’re not enjoying it at first.
A Court of Thorns and Roses characters – 3.25/5
I must again touch on some of my frustrations with A Court of Thorns and Roses. Feyre is a girl from a small town where she’s essentially the breadwinner for her family and isn’t appreciated. Very quickly she’s taken away by Fae and forced to live with them. Very oddly, they decide she isn’t imprisoned and can basically live a normal life there. However, Feyre realises Tamlin is actually a beautiful human being and so spends the next 200 pages or so noting the different ways in which he’s beautiful.
I don’t mind a good romance between two protagonists but you really have to enjoy them as individuals first and you have to really enjoy their interactions with one another. However, when the male is just good-looking but doesn’t have a sense of humour, doesn’t seem that interested and only seems to be interested in growling and physical interaction, it’s very hard to care about them.
Lucien is an interesting character. He holds resentment towards Feyre for killing their brethren (as he rightfully should) and so constantly teases her, is often mean to her and standoffish. However, his character arc is one of the more satisfying and makes me hope he’s in the later books rather than Tamlin who, as aforementioned, was dull as dishwater.
In the final third of the book, a new villain is introduced who I honestly think is the best character in the whole book. She’s pure evil and actually brings some excitement to an otherwise rather bland set of people and…. faeries.
A Court of Thorns and Roses final rating – 3.75/5
I have put my score of A Court of Thorns and Roses up by .75. This is due to the fact that I think I had an appreciation for the final third a little more this time around and also I do feel like I went into it first time expecting it to be bad and so was even more wound up when I realised it was bad. This isn’t a good romance book and it’s not really that good of a fantasy novel either. However, there is a fantasy world brewing in the background here that Maas finally introduces us to which has given me hope (along with the numerous voices on social also telling me so) that the second book is going to be much better.