A New Fantastic Fantasy Series
A Court of Thorns and Roses is a high fantasy book with fairies, magic, and unexplainable happening every step of the way. I heard of this book from a Facebook group I’m a part of. I saw post after post of people raving about how amazing A Court of Thorns and Roses is. They even created their own acronym, ACOTAR, to use when referring to the start of this four-book series.
I picked up this book without even reading the excerpt on the back. This book kept popping up whenever I would search for books similar to The Selection and City of Bones. So I figured that I needed to give it a try. I had zero expectations for this book, but it did a pretty good job of entertaining me.
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Initial Thoughts about A Court of Thorns and Roses
First off, this cover is gorgeous! Whoever the cover artist is, you are fabulous! The book cover shows the main character Feyre. She looks fierce and strong. It instantly drew me in, and I wanted to know who this amazing heroine is.
The beginning is a little slow with all of Feyre’s background and setting up the story. It took me a little bit to get into it. The story really started picking up and getting more interesting in chapter 4 on page 30 when Tamlin, the other main character, shows up.
This is definitely not a book for teens, but it becomes appropriate with a couple of scenes skipped. There are directions of where to skip later in this blog post.
A Court of Thorns and Roses follows the outline of a less known fairy-tale, the Snow Queen. It became one of my favorite fairy tales after reading Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson was the original inspiration for Frozen before they scrapped it in favor of a story filled with sisterly love.
That being said, A Court of Thorns and Roses is nothing like Frozen! It begins at the border of a mythical land Prythian where Fae and other dangerous magical beasts live. Feyre is out in the forest hunting in the middle of winter, trying to find food for her family. She ventures into the forest further than ever before and comes across a monstrous wolf. It could be a fae, but Feyre just thinks of how much she could sell the pelt for and how long that could feed her family.
Twists and Turns in A Court of Thorns and Roses
Within a few days, a larger-than-life lion-like beast comes to her home and demands she either die or live the rest of her life in Prythian for killing a fae. Just like that, Feyre finds herself living in a beautiful fae-filled castle cursed by magic and one High Lord who can turn into a beast. She is thrown into a world of magic, danger, and the unexpected. It starts out similar to Beauty and the Beast, but it is really the story of underhill and fighting for your true love.
One of the leading developments in this story happens when Feyre returns to prove her love for Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court. She returns only to find out that he has been captured. In the process of rescuing him, she is taken prisoner too. To save both of them, she must complete 3 unbeatable tasks or solve a complex riddle throughout a couple of months.
Dark versus Light
Between tasks, she is held captive, humiliated, tortured, and drugged. It isn’t a pretty picture. This part of the story could be triggering for abuse survivors or people with PTSD. I wasn’t a fan of this part of the story. It shows a systematic breakdown of Feyre and the stripping of everything she holds dear. However, this descent into darkness and loss makes the hope of love that much more poignant and worth fighting for. It sets up one of my favorite parts of the entire book. I talk more about this dark time in the parent guide.
My favorite part is the second half of Chapter 42 and takes place a couple of days before the final challenge. Feyre is broken and is on the brink of losing all hope when she is filled with memory. She remembers the sunshine and light she used to share with Tamlin before everything went sideways. Those good memories carried her through the darkness. This part is my favorite because it shows how vital good memories are. They can cut through the misery and help give hope through hard times.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from A Court of Thorns and Roses. There are moments filled with darkness and violence and depravity at every turn. However, this book is about overcoming the darkness and sorrows of the world. It’s about creating and holding onto your dreams through the darkness. These are some of my favorite quotes that echo some of those sentiments.
“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”― Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses
“We need hope, or else we cannot endure.”― Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses
“Everything I love has always had a tendency to be taken away from me”― Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses
Parent Guide of A Court of Thorns and Roses
Is A Court of Thorns and Roses appropriate for teens? That is a hard no from me. There is quite a bit of language (13% of pages) and some gruesome violence. All in all, it probably is not as bad as some video games out there, but yet not appropriate for young teens. Much of the violence is similar to The Hunger Games with the amount of blood and violence. The real reason why it isn’t appropriate for teens, though, is the adult content.
There was more adult content than I would have liked in A Court of Thorns and Roses. It is marketed towards Young Adults, but I think the author or publisher forgot that many teens read young adult books. There are two short but descriptive adult scenes and two other scenes with very passionate kissing that almost become adult scenes. These scenes come at very tense and stressful points in the book. However, I think these moments could have been dealt with differently. If there was less adult content, I could see teenagers reading A Court of Thorns and Roses.
**UPDATE** I just finished reading the entire series. There are many more adult scenes in later books. So, if you don’t want to skip a lot in the future I don’t recommend starting them. The plot is addicting but skipping all the sex scenes can be distracting.
Another questionable thing happens in the second half of the book. Feyre essentially becomes a play toy of a Fae. Night after night, she is stripped naked and painted before given a very sheer and revealing garment to wear. Then she is drugged and is paraded about all night based on the whims of the Fae. This extreme humiliation and debasement is part of the antagonist’s plan to break Feyre’s spirit and extinguish her hope. I understand why it was included, but I wonder if there was a different way the same thing could have been accomplished without oversexualizing the main character.
Parent Guide Quick Break Down
Language: 55 biblical swear words; 13% of pages have coarse language on them.
Violence: PG-13 Some gore when she kills the wolf at the beginning. Terror when Tamlin shows up at her house to take her away. Reoccurring nightmares of killing the wolf. Killing the Naga. Lots of blood spurting everywhere and ripped clothing. Decapitated head in the garden. Killing the three fairies up close. Physical injury from the trials.
Adult Content: Fairy wine = drugs; Great rite & passionate kissing wishing it was more; There is a sex scene in chapter 27. After they start kissing, just skip to the paragraph after the divider. Stripped naked, painted, and paraded about in very sheer clothing. A passionate make-out session before the last trial. Sex scene in Chapter 46; skip from “Later” to the divider.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is definitely an adult book and later books in the series have even more adult content. It is a natural next book for adults who love reading The Hunger Games, Twilight, Matched, and Red Queen. A few clean teen-level books to read instead of this book include Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, City of Bones, The Faerie Path, Wicked Lovely, The Iron King, and Touched. After reading A Court of Thorns and Roses, adults should check out the second book called A Court of Mist and Fury as well as Midnight Sun, A Discovery of Witches and Moon Called.
Edit: I just finished the Parent Guide for Throne of Glass, book one in another series by Sarah J. Maas. It has a similar vibe to A Court of Thorns and Roses, but I got much more emotionally attached to all the characters. If you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting for???