A Court of Thorns and Roses Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
When 19-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 over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin - and his world - forever.
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|Listening Length||16 hours and 7 minutes|
|Author||Sarah J. Maas|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||May 05, 2015|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #52 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Action & Adventure Fiction for Teens
#1 in Epic Fantasy for Teens
#1 in Romance for Teens
Reviewed in the United States on January 19, 2023
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Here are the five reasons why I gave A Court of Thorns and Roses 5 out of 5 stars (and then some):
★ FAIRYTALE RETELLING
I was a little wary of this story when I discovered that it was a fairytale retelling. I love the story of Beauty and the Beast. Growing up, I watched the Disney version all of the time (but not as much as I watched Pocahontas). However, in the past I have struggled to find enjoyment in Beauty and the Beast retellings. Particularly Beastly by Alex Flinn -- I did not enjoy the book or the movie.
I think I was worried that A Court of Thorns and Roses wouldn't feel original, but it was the complete opposite. Maas has written an incredibly unique story that is grounded in the fairytale we all know and love, but is also independent and utter creative genius (Maas is definitely honing and owning her writing skills!). Yes, there is a curse, and magic, and a love story. But there is also dark magic, and steamy romance (and I do mean steamy!), and blood and gore, and court drama -- basically, all of my favorite things wrapped up in one neat, rose-colored bow.
There were some twists on the original story of Beauty and the Beast that I really enjoyed. For example, in the original story, the residents/servants of the Beast's home are cursed and transformed into household items. However in ACOTAR, rather than being transformed into household items, Maas' cursed characters must wear masquerade masks, and have done so for 50 years since the curse was placed on the night of a masquerade party. I also appreciated that, though Tamlin was a beast, that quality did not factor into the curse that was placed on him. Rather, as a Fae, he has the power of shape-shifting, and takes the form of a beast (usually when fighting). So, throughout most of the book, Tamlin is portrayed as a glorious, chiseled, man of steel. Some readers believe that the fact that Tamlin is gorgeous retracts from the Beauty and the "Beast" story line. However, no one writes hot male love interests like Sarah J. Maas, so I am not complaining about Tamlin at all.
Overall, I found that I loved the fairytale background of this story more than anything. I enjoyed drawing comparisons between Maas' story and characters, and the story I grew up with. Maas' world is so intriguing, engrossing you from the very beginning and never letting you go.
While we know that ACOTAR is a fairytale retelling, that is not to say that it is a children's book. I went into this book thinking that it was Young Adult. However, there is a particular scene that takes place after the Great Rite on Fire Night (such a good scene, by the way -- just wait for it) that made me take a step back and think "Whoa! This is way too sexy and erotic for Young Adult literature."
Looking back at Goodreads, I found that the book was listed as Young Adult and New Adult. But, I would personally classify this book as New Adult. Having read many New Adult novels, I found that the sex rating for ACOTAR resonates with that of a New Adult novel. I think that there is a lot of confusion about the genre of this book because we all know Sarah J. Maas as a Young Adult author. I personally have no problem with this genre. However, for parents who are giving this book to their young children, or for those readers who don't enjoy sex scenes in their books -- you have been warned.
I love the New Adult genre, and discovering that ACOTAR fell into that genre made me love it even more. I appreciate the more mature content, and that the characters are closer to my age (Feyre is 19). And, hey, I appreciate the sexy times, too. (There is no shame in my game... Because, who am I kidding? I have no game.) I had also never read a New Adult Fantasy before, so I was glad to be exploring new territory.
I'm absolutely impressed with Maas as a writer. She is not afraid to be different, to venture out to new places. I love that she is entering this new genre, and look forward to seeing what else she has up her sleeve for the future.
★ FEYRE, THE PROTAGONIST
When I started reading ACOTAR, I was sure Maas was going to give us another Celaena Sardothien: a badass girl who is nearly invincible, yet lovable and cool. However, Feye (pronounced Fay-ruh) is so different from other fantasy protagonists I have read, because she is so unapologetically human. She is normal, and she is flawed, and I found that I could easily relate to her character. Feyre is unlike the female protagonists we are accustomed to. She is no fighter, not outstandingly gorgeous, and she is also illiterate (a shortcoming that embarrasses her to not end).
In the beginning, Feyre is not very likable. She is cold, harsh, stubborn, and hard-headed. But, readers begin to see how her situation of poverty has shaped her to be that way. Once at the Spring Court, where she is no longer burdened with the responsibility of taking care of her father and two sisters (all of whom are ungrateful of her efforts to keep them alive), the ice in her heart begins to melt as she lives in comfort and takes up her passion for painting. Readers witness her character develop as she begins to rediscover happiness and life's simple pleasures. Feyre easily becomes a character you can't help but root for and love.
★ TAMLIN & AN IMPENDING LOVE TRIANGLE
Since we have discussed Feyre, I believe that it is only appropriate to take a glance at her love interest: Tamlin.
Tamlin is a bae Fae warrior, with magical abilities. He is also gorgeous, kind-hearted, and strong. And, he places Feyre's happiness and well-being above all else. But, he is not perfect. He is flawed, haunted by his family's past, by his own mistakes, and the lives he has taken. But, through all of that, he still strives to do and be good.
However, I admit that while I love Tamlin, I am worried that Maas has a love triangle in the works for Book 2 of ACOTAR.
Rhys, a sexy, dangerous Fae, is a force of nature who seeks to dig his claws (or rather, talons) into Feyre. And, I can't say that I hate him. I actually like his character, although we witness him do some terrible things (even to Feyre). He seems edgy, fun, and is incredibly witty. (Maas does this thing where she makes you fall in love with all of her characters, even the morally ambiguous ones.) While Tamlin is all gorgeous and good, Rhys has that hot-but-tragic thing going for him.
I am already struggling with the love square Maas has going on in the Throne of Glass series (between Celaena and her three love interests -- Chaol, Dorian, and Rowan). I don't think that I will be able to handle the emotional roller coaster of another of her love triangles. But, I think that as long as no one else is introduced, as long as this does not move into the quadrilateral stage, everything will be fine.
★ SUPPORTING CHARACTERS
While Maas' main characters are at the center of attention, her supporting characters keep this book afloat. With less focus and fewer appearances, Maas' supporting characters still manage to steal our hearts and the show.
First, there is Lucien, the red-haired, one-eyed Fae who is Tamlin's best friend. He is initially rude to Feyre, but eventually warms up to her. They easily develop a sort of big-brother-little-sister relationship. I would consider Lucien to be the story's comic relief. He is humorous and sarcastic and I adore his character.
There is also Amarantha, the story's evil villainess. She is a Fae ruler who has a particular hatred for humans, which is not good for Feyre. She is cold, calculating, and cruel. But she has a backstory (all the best villains have backstories). And, I don't want to spoil you all, so I will just say that, when you learn her backstory, you realize why Amarantha is so harsh and unforgiving. Although, while I can sympathize with her on some level, I find her evil ways to be too much at times. However, I still find her to be an interesting, well-written character.
And of course, there is Rhysand, whom I mentioned earlier. He is incredibly important to the story of Book 1, and will have an even larger presence in Book 2. I cannot wait to learn more about his character, because he is so enigmatic and intriguing and I just know that I am going to love him.
I believe that ACOTAR is Maas' at her best. As I stated earlier, we are definitely seeing Maas hone and perfect her skill -- each book she releases is always better than the last. What I liked most about Maas' writing in ACOTAR was her use of first person. Throne of Glass is written in third person, and with changing character perspectives. I find that I can tend to get bored with certain characters. But, with ACOTAR, told from Feyre's perspective, I felt engaged throughout the entire book.
I literally want to live in Prythian, in the world of the Fae that exists beyond The Wall (just without all of the drama). Maas depicts the Spring Court so beautifully and vividly. It seems like a literal heaven on earth.
Other than the beauty of the Fae world, there are the parties and festivities. I mentioned Fire Night and the Great Rite earlier, two very interesting festivities held in the Fae world. And then there are parties and gatherings celebrating the seasons, such as Summer Solstice and Midsummer. It is all so fantastical and fun, readers are just dying to step into the pages.
There is not much else I can say about A Court of Thorns and Roses. I LOVED this book! I have no idea how I am going to wait an entire year for the sequel. It's going to be excruciating, but I am sure that it is going to worth it. Because Sarah J. Maas is a fabulous queen of writing, and every word she writes turns to gold.
Now the fun stuff! ***SPOILERS***
Feyre (the h):
This character is complex and goes through several changes throughout the series. In this book, she has her ups and downs. Initially, she is hardened, street-smart and capable with a cynical eye toward romance and happiness and outright hatred and prejudice towards the fae. She also has love for a family who seems to dislike and neglect her. She is not very likeable. But does that make a book bad? No. (Hello, Wuthering Heights.) It is, however, more rare to write an h this way because readers in general tend to want to relate to an h, particularly when it's written in 1st person perspective. So many readers might not be able to get into the story because of their dislike for Feyre. When the far remove her burdens that largely drove who she was, Feyre changes. She doesn't have a purpose to keep her going, to shape her. The pacing of the book suffers a bit here while she tries to sort herself out. She tries to make love and painting her new purposes, and while she has the determination to do so, the fit just isn't right. Does this make the book bad? No. While many people won't like to read about an h that seems somehow "less" this downward arc was necessary to fuel the inevitable reversal toward a more fitting purpose. It drags a bit for sure, but makes the reversal feel more right, more true later on. Did she rush into something with Tamlin. Her feelings do feel a bit rushed but ultimately fit her as a character- going all-in has always been her style from the start. In that sense, the character is consistent. Also, her reluctance to voice her love made me think that deep-down she might have confused love with gratitude. Tamlin was her savior in many ways. For all of these reasons I liked Feyre.
Tamlin (the H):
Tamlin was the 1st high fae Feyre had any meaningful interactions with in the 1st book. I never really liked him as an H. He was pretty but basically hollow. He struggles with uncontrolled rage. He had just as much hatred for humans as Feyre did for fae, and his elitist attitude was hinted at throughout this book (though not substantiated until book 2). He also adheres to fae tradition in weird ways- his willing participation in the Fire Night ritual is distasteful because it borders on infidelity (especially since we later learn in book 2 that he can designate a replacement). Tamlin has from the beginning been primarily focused on Tamlin. When things get tough, he sends Feyre away; he doesn't consult or listen to her, but just decides, hinting at his desire to treat her like a possession rather than a person. When he gets a moment of freedom under the mountain he attempts to have sex with Feyre (his wants) instead of trying to escape with or save her (her needs). When Feyre is dying, he can only bring himself to beg for her life, he isn't moved into action. All of these things hint that Tamlin is not a good fit for Feyre. Many readers will not like to read about an H that is so lacking/ ill-fitted. The beautiful part is that these things are only ever hinted at in the writing, not outright stated so you will want to root for Tamlin while also feeling something inexplicably lacking in him. I thought about it lots before I picked up book 2, where my thoughts regarding Tamlin were cemented. Tamlin could not have been written more likeable though. If he was the perfect H then Feyre falling for Rhys in book 2 would have felt like a betrayal, instead of fated, and then Feyre would've been worse than unlikable but detestable as an h.
A secondary character who is both interesting and flawed. He hates Feyre at first, but ultimately warms up to her. He is loyal to a fault, siding with Tamlin over and again, even when he thinks it is wrong to do so. A trait that becomes more obvious as the series progresses. Lucian has potential.
Rhysand (villain/other H):
Rhysand was the most interesting character in the book (although Nesta was a close second). Rhys was the evil queen's right-hand man. He has done terrible things. Yet, when we meet him (not my favorite bit of the book because of the gross circumstances I do not favor, as mentioned above) there is evidence that he is not all that he seems. He appeared to be interested in Feyre romantically, but the "why" part is not there. Also, it is not 100% certain WHAT drives his actions. He is a mystery. Why did he decide to help her time and again? Why, if he likes her did he decide to put her through nightly humiliation? Why use her to torment Tamlin? He is clearly not 100% a good guy. He is complex.
Other things people often talk about:
The sex. There is a lot more sex in this book than in other "YA" books. It seems like that has somehow lead to some amount of controversy. I find that notion very strange as many eons ago when I was a teen, sex was a big part of being a teen- whether or not to have it, who had it, when they had it where and how, what type of birth control to use, etc. Suggestions that a book would have any type of influence on those things are just silly. Teens have sex. It's a fact. Wishing it otherwise does nothing productive. Also, the sex in this series is not "explicit." Every time I see this adjective used, it makes me laugh. I have read many romances and even some erotica. If you truly want something "explicit" check out erotica- phrases like "the apex of my thighs" or the "the length of him" are not "explicit."
The copious dialogue. Lots of readers don't like the extended dialogue and also wish to have seen more of the fae world. I am just guessing here, but I am thinking that they are meaning that they wanted less talk and more fairy magic. But, fae are known for more than just their magic. Another key attribute of fae has to do with their words- being able to only speak in rhyme, only speak the truth, answer any question posed, etc. This attribute can be very interesting (see Mortal Instruments series or Dresden Files). And indeed it was put to use throughout the series, sometimes well done other times much too dues ex machina for my liking. Dialogue can be a type of action when done well enough. In this book, it probably could've been better but was good enough for me.
The Fire Night and rape culture. Honestly, I am bothered by this one. I am never fond of rape or sexual violence as a plot device which is why I tend to avoid historical romances almost entirely. In this book, I think the Fire Nite ritual was used in part explain a bit about fae magic and in part to push forward the Feyre-Tamlin relationship while introducing Rhys. I think it both went too far and not far enough. Tamlin's participation cheapens his feelings toward Feyre, just imagine someone saying, "I love you, truly, but I need to go have sex with someone else." And then he came back to Feyre AFTER HAVING SEX WITH SOMEONE ELSE, and bit her to clearly show his possession of her. It doesn't sit well, does it? Additionally, the three fae with bad intentions suggest to Feyre that fae tradition gives them the right to violate her just because she is present. That makes all fae seem brutal and detestable. Thus, it goes too far. But, what about the converse? The Fire Night ritual is supposed to be necessary to ensure the bounty of the land for the next year. But, the spring court is the only court that has/ observes this ritual en mass? That does not really make sense to me. The need for this ritual, especially considering mated bonds are a rare and extremely valued thing, is not properly explained. It really could've been omitted from the book and is one of the few things about the book that I truly did not like.
The masks. Some people like them, some don't. The reason given for them was that they were yet another obstacle to a human girl falling in love with Tamlin. I really didn't mind them but I did not like Feyre's reaction to the removal of the masks. While it was consistent with her character (she always had an eye for pretty guys), I thought that it cheapened her character to have her feel relieved that Tamlin was so pretty without his mask. It was very superficial, and further proof that there wasn't much of substance to their "love."
While book 1 is my least favorite of the series, I still really liked it and will definitely re-read it again. Books 2 and 3 get even better and I am looking forward to further writings as well. Hopefully we will get to see what happens to Nesta, Elaine, the 6th queen, and Bryaxis.
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Reviewed in Brazil 🇧🇷 on June 8, 2020
As far as MCs go, Feyre was pretty good. She was tough and realistic, though at times her tendency to inner ramble wore on me. Tamlin, her love interest, I quite liked at first but as the book progressed I realised that not only did I begin to question a few of his motives as more of his past was revealed, I found him a bit too dull: especially in comparison to characters filled with personality such as Rhysand and Lucien. It will be interesting to see how they and Nesta (who I think has SO much potential) develop in Book Two, as well as whether I continue to like Tamlin as the object of Feyre's affections. I feel like Maas might be trying to sneak in a Hades & Persephone style story-line in the future and I have to say if I'm right then it's ramped up my excitement for 'A Court Of Mist & Fury' tenfold! The world-building is nicely introduced though I still felt it skimped on some of the details, choosing to take more of an info-dumping approach later on via Alis rather than using more of that time that Feyre spends prancing and painting around the Spring Court.
The thing is, I DO really want to know what happens next but I can't bring myself to lie and say that this book gave me that blown away feeling. It's a really good story on creatures that are rarely focused on: the Fae. But I never felt truly gripped by the plot (the pacing was a little hot and cold) and can't help but feel like I wanted more from a book that set the Blogging world on fire that was written by a widely loved Author in the YA Fantasy community.
Erstmal zu den guten Seiten des Buches: Der Schreibstil ist flüssig und spannend, es passiert einfach eine Menge und die Autorin muss eine blühende Fantasie haben um die Orte und Kreaturen so lebendig zu beschreiben.
Die Nebencharaktere scheinen teilweise etwas flach und stereotyp. Es gibt den wortkargen Helden, der große Verantwortung trägt aber natürlich trotzdem immer zur Stelle ist, wenn die damsel in distress mal wieder gerettet werden muss. Der Sidekick mit tragischer Backstory und die loyale Dienerin. Ich will nicht unfair sein, vielleicht gewinnen diese Charaktere in den letzten 25% des Buches, oder auch im Rest der Reihe, an Tiefe. Also werte ich das mal neutral.
Doch jetzt kommt das Problem: Die Ich-Erzählerin, mit der man sich als Lesy offensichtlich identifizieren soll, ist so strunzendumm, dass es körperlich wehtut. Deswegen konnte ich das Buch nicht zu Ende lesen; ich stehe nicht auf Schmerzen.
Feyre stellt nichts in Frage was ihr passiert und stürzt sich in jede Gefahr, als wäre sie unsterblich. Damit komme ich klar, und das Verhalten wird im Laufe des Buches auch noch mit irgendwelchen juvenilen Gefühlen erklärt. Ich kann auch noch akzeptieren, dass ein Mensch, der ein Leben lang vor der Hinterhältigkeit der Fae gewarnt wurde, mit der bösen Feenkönigin einen Handel abschließt ohne auch nur die Wortwahl in Frage zu stellen. Schließlich befindet sich Feyre in einer enormen Stresssituation und Liebe mach bekanntlich blind, etc. Aber dann gibt ihr besagte Feenkönigin ein Rätsel auf, dass eine extrem offensichtliche Lösung hat, wenn man den Hintergrund der Rätselstellerin bedenkt: Liebe. Ich gehe davon aus, dass das die falsche Lösung ist, und sich das auch im weiteren Verlauf der Geschichte herausstellt. Die Alternative wäre einfach zu armselig. Jeder Protagonist mit nur einem halben Gehirn hätte sich also gefragt, ob das die Lösung sein könnte, um es dann als zu offensichtlich zu verwerfen. Doch Feyre hat ganz genau KEINE Idee, was des Rätsels Lösung sein könnte. In ihrem Kopf herrscht absolute Leere, wie schon in den ersten 75% des Buches. Argh. Es tut schon wieder weh, wenn ich nur daran denke, also höre ich an dieser Stelle lieber auf.
A teenage girl gets kidnapped by an old man who holds her in his house against her will. He is violent. She is scared of him. In the meantime, he lies to her family about where she is and buys them off with money to keep them docile. With time, she develops feelings for him. When she has a chance to escape and finally reaches her family, she decides to go back to her abuser because she thinks they love each other.
Does it sound like a psychological thriller that studies domestic abuse and Stockholm Syndrome? Well, it is not. It romanticises all the wrong things we should not be teaching girls and women are ok. Awful book.
I think I found Fayre, the main character, a little hard to relate to or feel anything for. I didn’t particularly like her, but there were other characters that I did like, such as Lucien, Rhysand and Nesta. Feyre likes to paint and I think this is where the empathy is supposed to come through – oh, look, she paints, so she has got a heart, but it didn’t quite hit the mark.
This is at the older end of young adult with some very raunchy scenes. I didn’t mind them but it’s something to keep in mind.
The writing style was stilted at times and her overuse of repetition can become distracting, pulling you out of the story rather than enhancing it. Some descriptions were just strange but then others were beautiful.
It was a bit of a slow start. Towards the end I was thinking oh god, there’s still 20% left, but as it turned out that was the section I enjoyed most. This pulled it from being 2.5 stars to 3.
I can see why this is such a huge hit. I have the second and third book on my kindle but I’m not sure when the mood will take me to pick them up. I’m certainly not rushing for them, but maybe they’ll keep calling out to me to be read, just like this one did.