Feyre lives in a tiny cottage with her father and two sisters. Once, they were rich but her father’s poor business decisions left them living in poverty. When their mother was on her deathbed, Feyre promised she would look after her family. The fae live north of the wall, kept at a safe distance by the treaty. A treaty Feyre is about to unknowingly break. She is given a choice, which will lead her into the heart of enemy territory, and away from the very people she swore to protect.

I went into Sarah J. Maas’ new series with high expectations that just weren’t met. I enjoyed A Court of Thorn and Roses well enough but it felt a bit of a generic fantasy romance. I love novels about dark fae and faerie politics so I thought this one would be right up my street. However, I felt you could have substituted the faeries for vampires, and it could be one of many urban fantasy stories I’ve read over the years.

Once Feyre goes beyond the wall, she discovers not everything she’s been taught about faeries is true. There are some terrifying and dangerous races amongst them, but there are also faeries who are little different from humans. All is not well in Prythian, and the fae magic is weak. I was interested in the world-building, and which parts of faerie mythology were incorporated; I definitely found some of the minor characters more interesting than Feyre and Tamlin.

The middle is very slow and I found it all a little unconvincing. Some of this is justified by what is revealed later on, however I wanted a bit more of a reaction from Feyre. Hasn’t she just been used? However things got interesting when Rhysand popped up. He’s a much more complex character even if he isn’t the nicest. Maybe I just like the opportunity for a good redemption story. Tamlin was portrayed as too nice, if you ask me. He does plenty that should be questioned but is just glossed over.

It’s a bit sexier than most young adult fantasy, even though I personally found the Throne of Glass characters sexier because they weren’t necessarily defining each other by how hot they were. Tamlin might well wear a mask but he is clearly good looking and muscular and I didn’t quite feel enough of an intellectual bond between them. It was all too much heaving bosoms and coy looks for my liking.

In parts, this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, although in saying that it might give some clues as to what is going on. Feyre is one of those characters that starts off as “plain”, because she is modest and telling it in first person, but eventually turns out to be a beauty. It feels a bit like one of those films where the main character is a geek then takes off her glasses and undoes her ponytail and, bam, she’s hot.

Anyway, there’s one key thing that happens which would make me read the second book in this trilogy. It feels very much like an earlier work which has been dusted off, since Sarah’s become so successful. It just isn’t as polished as her other, very excellent, books.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is published by Bloomsbury and will be available in paperback and ebook editions from 5th May 2015. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Also reviewed @ Uncorked Thoughts

Shelve next to: October Daye series by Seanan McGuire

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.