All of the sorry’s for not uploading for last week or so. I have been slacking I’ll admit and there are no real excuses except that the weather here has been a blessing and I’ve had my lazy arse on the beach every evening after work, soaking up every last beam, book in hand. And there, my friends, we have the second reason, the book series I just finished. It’s been a while since a series got that under my skin. I was wishing away my hours at work just to get back to its pages. And the culprit? A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. Be warned there are a few little spoilers ahead!
I’ll get right down to it and say that the first element that snared me in was the writing style. Before I began, I got the impression that it would be a light hearted, young adult paranormal romance book. And I don’t mean that in a negative light at all, many of my favourite books are of a similar genre and they’re the books I rely on most to really transport me somewhere. But whereas there were elements of the expected, this was different from the get go. Much like Stiefvater (Shiver trilogy, The Raven Cycle) never underestimates her audience and gives us “big” words and lengthy description, Maas too has catered to the hungry. There is no difficult language per say but the way she strings together sentences and plays out her narrative is pretty spectacular. There is intention behind it, a determination to paint the most spectacular of images in the readers head, to really give life to the characters, most importantly Feyre. And there lies my next compliment, the characters.
Always of most importance to me with any novel are darn good characters. Especially if it’s the character narrating the story. I have to like them, or at least find them intriguing to really get into the stories rhythm. Feyre is a gem, likeable but difficult. Ferocious and head strong and all the admirable things a young woman could be. Her development throughout the three books is so satisfying and honestly? I miss her. She has a courageous backstory, a self deprecating attitude that blossoms as she persists and takes on all of these insane challenges. She does everything for love, loyalty, despite the way others treat her. You fall in love with her in those opening pages as she faces the wood alone, crossbow in hand and takes on a wolf she suspects to be something even far more terrifying just to feed a family devoid of gratitude. It’s beautiful how Maas uses the imagery of painting to represent her story, her emotions. The dream that painting is, the subjects and moments in her life worth the time of creating a piece, how the darkness post Amarantha blocks her creativity but the calm and security of Velaris and the dreamers cracks open that defensiveness, the fear until she’s willing to think of painting again. You can’t help but want all of the happiness for Feyre which makes all those brutal tasks she takes on all the more tense.
The other characters we meet in her story are equally as tangible, all unique and carefully crafted. Identity is so solid in each new interaction and the villains are pretty gnarly too. I love it when I can really hate a villain, when they’re so terribly vile you really feel that animosity. Like they’ve threatened you personally. And Amanthara does that job very aptly. The dark beings like the Attor and Naga are equally as haunting in the brutal way Maas portrays them. I like darkness very much, nightmares and horror, and these books are saturated in it.
Then there are the unexpected villains, in the second book for example when one of the good guys from the first does a switch and goes from being a beloved hero to a bit of a sorry excuse for a man. There is room for much sympathy toward Tamlin but because Feyre is our conduit to this world, because you experience her so completely, it’s hard to have an unbiased view. Though Lucien’s involvement in Feyre’s depression always hurt me more, Tamlin was always a little bland in my view but Lucien was a cracker and I needed him to stay good.
But lets just take a hot (literally) minute to discuss Rhysand. In his introduction in the first book he has that love hate situation about him. He’s charming and seductive and so opposite to Tamlin and even though he’s presented as a threat there’s something in his description that you can’t quite help feeling endeared by and then in the second book I found myself looking forward to his involvement. So cheeky and lighthearted whilst the rest of the plot was so dark and twisted. And then of course his whole backstory and his family back at Valeris. He’s that classic tortured soul, misunderstood by the world and harbouring a heart of gold. He’s divine.
Settings are also so crucial throughout, so much imagery goes into casting a whole host of fantastic scene’s. The Night Court becomes something so magical when you’ve been led to believe its a nightmare. Cassian and Azriel and Mor and Amren are all such delights, my little dreamers. It’s always intriguing when the characters have a darkness and a light to them. When they’re a little bit screwy. It makes them relatable, despite the whole magic thing. And each of them already possess their own whole little worlds inside the mammoth plot that I would kill for a spin off series, prior to the current day, that goes into detail about how they all met and all of the shenanigans they got up to. That unit of characters really made the series for me.
I, of course, have to gush about all the magical stuff. I love me a deeply intricate fantasy world and Maas delivered in this series. Prythian is a beast of a world, a place that you yearn to hear more tales of, especially in the third book when you’re introduced to the other Courts and their High Lords. And all of the creatures that inhabit the place, not just Fae (always a favourite with me) but some original species too, like the Illyrians and Shadowsingers.
Finally I just wanted to give a massive shout out to the social issues Mass interweaves throughout the three books. Yes the whole class element is nifty but also the idea’s surrounding gender and sexuality. Though I wouldn’t personally categorise this series as Young adult, due to all those naughty scenes and the violence and torture and all that good stuff, it’s positive to know that younger readers are being exposed to all types of representation. Mor’s little confession to Feyre in the third novel, about her attraction to women and her lost love whom no one knows of, had my feels all in a tangle. I need another addition to the series if only to see Morrigan happy. And then, of course, all of the badass women, including Amarantha and especially lovely, brave, Feyre. The feminism is oozing out of the pages in this one.
I’m so sorry that this turned into one heck of a ramble. I really need to get a grip on how I want to present the whole book element to this page. But if you’re a fantasy fan, a lover of a well developed world and carefully constructed scenes, if you’re love of a novel is held quite detrimentally in the hands of its characters then this series will not disappoint. Go read it and if you have already lets gush about it together in the comments!
Oh, and be sure to follow me on Goodreads! – Check it for more specific reviews on each book.
Happy energy, always, N x