Saturday, November 21, 2015

A court of thorns and roses by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre is the only thing standing between her family and starvation, a fact that is never far from her mind even in the coldest moments of winter when her fingers can barely hold arrows to her bow.  Her once wealthy and respected family has been brought low by the hands of fate with barely enough to allow them to survive - especially when her father wallows in self pity over their lost fortune and his shattered knee.  With the frozen fingers of winter blanketing the land in snow and ice hunting has become difficult, and there are other dangers in the woods other than cold and death - the fae have been seen on the human side of the wall and whole villages have been torn to the ground over night.  When Feyre finds a massive wolf hunting the prey she needs to feed her family it is not a difficult choice to slay the monster and take the prize for her family.  She does not expect such a drastic and brutal punishment however.

When an enraged fae appears on her doorstop she is given a choice - to die like an animal or give up her life and travel across the wall into Prythian, the lands ruled by the fae.  It is an impossible choice, but an oath sworn to her mother forces her hand and Feyre leaves behind everything she ever knew for a world of legend and violence.  Tamlin is everything legend says the fae will be, cold and distant with a disdain for humans.  She may have freedom in the manor, but Feyre knows that she is a prisoner none the less and that her life is no longer her own.  As the weeks pass she learns more about her new home, and the more she learns the less she understands.  Tamlin seems to swing between wanting to know more about Feyre and make her happy, and an angry and raging beast that tears things apart with his bare hands.  At least his emissary Lucien is consistent in keeping his distance - but it seems that both Lucien and Tamlin are keeping secrets from Feyre, and when you are a delicate and powerless human in a world of creatures with magic and power that is a dangerous thing to be.  As Feyre learns more about the lands of Prythian she uncovers a darkness that has invaded the land, one that was powerful enough to take a High Lord and trap him and his people in a state of visible shame and weakness.

A court of thorns and roses was a remarkably vivid and richly imagined fractured fairy tale that has me wanting the next book in the series right now!  Maas has already taken the traditional story of Cinderella and turned it on it's head in the Throne of glass series by making Cinderella an assassin instead of a servant, and in the case of A court of thorns and roses she has taken a merchants daughter and turned her into a huntress who will do anything to keep her family alive.  One of the most engaging (and addictive) aspects of both series is the fae who inhabit these worlds, they are not "blown out" elves with perfect but monotonous blond hair (I loved that quote at her recent Auckland author talk) they are apart from humans with different motivations and ways of reacting to the world around them.  In many ways the fae of Prythian are savage as well as beautiful, they remind me of a pride of lions where they may love and protect the ones they love, but they can also be brutal and savage when called to battle or when it comes to protecting their territory or the ones they protect.

There is a lot to love with this series, and while the book is not short at 416 pages it is a story that rolls easily from the page and almost seems to read itself.  There are complicated layers to the story which adds to the richness of the characters and their world, but it is not so complicated that you can't follow what is happening.  The world they inhabit is as richly imagined as the characters and Maas has a deft touch in rendering her world, providing enough detail that you can easily picture the world and characters without drowning you in boring details or distracting you from the story by waxing lyrical about how amazing everything is.  This is a series that deserves to be discovered and enjoyed by readers of all ages, and judging by the number of adults at the Auckland book signing this is definitely a series that deserves to be discovered and enjoyed by a very broad audience.

If you like this book then try:
  • Arrows of the queen by Mercedes Lackey
  • Throne of glass by Sarah J. Maas
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
  • The Fire rose by Mercedes Lackey
  • Home from the sea by Mercedes Lackey
  • Reserved for the cat by Mercedes Lackey
  • Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey
  • Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey
  • From a high tower by Mercedes Lackey
  • Deerskin by Robin McKinley
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • Rose daughter by Robin McKinley
  • Spindle's end by Robin McKinley
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Reviewed by Brilla

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