If you’re a lover of fantasy, faeries and romance, you’ve probably heard of Sarah J. Maas’ adult series A Court of Thorns and Roses. If not, and you are a fan of the previously mentioned things, you will not be disappointed in this series. Nicola, Alyssa and I discussed the first book shortly after its release and plan to discuss A Court of Mist and Fury later this week.
Fans of Maas’ other series (Throne of Glass) will enjoy many of the similarities between the series: fantastic heroines, loads of magic and fantastic worldbuilding, as well as a racing, almost addictive pace. However, while Throne of Glass is a series that has political drama and adventure at its core, with a side of romance, A Court of Thorns and Roses is definitely more adult and more overtly focused on romance. In terms of sexiness and violence, ACOTAR is categorically NOT a young adult series.
Even though the violence is darker and the sexiness is more explicit, these aren’t books that are primarily focused on getting to the juicy bits. The plot lines of both published books are robust and engrossing. Feyre, the series’ main character, is a human in a world that fears the Fae kingdom at its borders. When Feyre accidentally kills a Fae warrior, she is summoned to serve penance at the estate of a Fae lord, Tamlin. Once there, Feyre is drawn into a centuries old conflict between different Fae forces, which periodically has pulled humans into the fray.
Feyre falls hard for Tamlin, and even though the story is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Tamlin is anything but beastly. I’ll admit, the first half of the first book reads a bit more like a more traditional supernatural romance, but the second half complicates things completely. Everything you think you know is overturned and all of the series characters’ arcs become deliciously complex. I’m happy to say that trend continues into ACOMAF.
As a main character, Feyre is multi-faceted in a way that makes her easy to identify with. The books are told through a first-person POV and I find it pretty easy to be in her head. Feyre loves big, even when she has difficult feelings and I think that big heartedness, combined with some serious badassery is what makes me like her so much. Maas doesn’t sacrifice Feyre’s emotions for her ability to kick ass.
Part of what I love about this series is that is merges genres that I love seamlessly and satisfyingly, but if you’re looking for just one or the other, this might not please you. ACOTAR has strong roots in romance, with sexy interludes that will get your pulse racing and romances rooted in deep, abiding emotions. But it’s also a well built fantasy, with a mesmerizing worldview and engrossing political conflict.
One of my favorite things about what Sarah J Maas has started to do with ACOTAR is combine genres in a way that’s really pleasing for female readers. She allows Feyre to be wholly feminine, sexual and powerful, as well as deal with heavy topics like abuse, PTSD, and heartbreak without compromising her story. Feyre’s tribulations aren’t plot devices to make you like her or care about her more, they’re an integral part of the story, and who Feyre is at the beginning and who she’s becoming.
Feyre can be sexual and romantic. She is self aware enough to wonder about who her feelings make her and how her decisions affect others. Honestly, Maas’ Throne of Glass series made me admire her as a storyteller, but ACOTAR makes me admire her as a woman. Perhaps I identify with Feyre in a lot of ways, so I feel more strongly about this than I would otherwise, but I love the way this series is going and I hope you will too. Fans of Rosamund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty will enjoy this one.
Alyssa, Nicola and I are wrapping up our discussion of A Court of Mist and Fury as I write this and we’ll be sharing with you on Friday. Cheers!
Allison Carr Waechter will always root for the bad boy with a heart of gold and the broken-hearted heroine.