It feels like an age since I sat down and devoured a book in one day. It probably feels that way because it’s true—since my two Masters Degrees were completed, I’ve hardly had the time or energy to read for fun; or at least, I’ve lacked the patience to read a book in one sitting without being overly critical or without finding my brain wandering to other responsibilities and tasks. And then I picked up A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and (pardon the cliche) couldn’t put it down.
In a far away land once ruled by cruel and demanding faeries, Feyre provides for her ailing father and two sisters by hunting in the woods (think Katniss in The Hunger Games). One day, desperate for food, she kills a large wolf—only the wolf turns out to have been a faery in disguise. When the faery’s master, the mystical Tamlin, discovers his friend has been murdered, he comes to claim the life of the murderess. He offers Feyre a choice: she can either be killed in kind, or choose to live out her life in his territory across the border. She chooses the latter, and is stolen away to the Spring Court.
Feyre finds herself in a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. Her captor and all his courtiers are under a curse, their faces obscured by masks. And worse than the gilded masks is an external threat that could mean the end of all the faery courts and war with the mortals across the border. Desperate to save her family, as well as the man she’s come to love, Feyre must fight to break the curse, or lose everything.
This first installment in the series is a delightful mixture of the fairy tale we all know with the folklore of Tam Lin. Though portions of the book may seem a bit slow for some readers, I enjoyed Maas’s world building and introduction to these characters. At times Tamlin is hard to like, and some of the character’s motives are frustrating—but knowing that there are further books in the series with hopefully more action and character development kept the pace going for me. Despite some flaws, such as passive sentences and far too many ellipses, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, as well as the experience of once again burying myself in a story for hours on end. If you enjoy young adult fiction, fantasy, or fairy tale retellings, then this is a book to put on your list. 4/5 stars.