‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ by Sarah J. Maas – Book Review

Light spoilers ahead.

First, I need to preface this review by re-stating my love/hate relationship with BookTok. I generally like TikTok, probably more than I should (actually, definitely more than I should. I know I spend too much time just mindlessly scrolling.). But some of the BookTok recommendations have been absolute misses for me. And this, on top of the fact that I’ve really never been into the fantasy genre or read anything else by Sarah J. Maas, made me really skeptical that I would enjoy A Court of Thorns and Roses.

The first book in the viral series follows Feyre, a 19-year-old girl who kills a faerie and is brought to their realm essentially as punishment for her action. It starts out as a sort of expanded, somehow more fantastical retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a more understated way with different stakes, if that makes sense. 

Of course, before I started reading, I’d heard about general opinions people have of the series on TikTok. For the first book, one of the most common tips I’d come across my scrolling was that the second book is the best the series and the first book can be tough to get through, but it’s worth it when you get to the second one.

I didn’t think the first book was tough to get through at all, in fact I was all-in from only the second or third chapter. I do think the second book has more action, and more elements that I and I assume many other readers just find more interesting (night vs. spring courts and of course, Rhysand vs. Tamlin), but it seems like such a discredit to the first book to frame it as something you need to get through so you can enjoy the second one.

Maas’s world building really stood out to me in the first book, as did her character development. Feyre especially is a really well developed character, and while that makes sense as the story is told from her point of view, I do think Maas does a spectacular job of filling us in on everything we need to know about her without making it seem like she’s just throwing exposition at us. Even characters like Tamlin and Lucien, I think we really learn more about their own stories in ways that really service to enhance the overall world building and storytelling, and the way Maas frames all of this is just really we’ll done. 

I finished the book really quickly and overall have no complaints. It was an incredibly enjoyable read, and one that I’m still thinking about and even considering rereading (something I honestly never do), and I’m only about halfway through the series at this point. 

I’ll close with a couple of more notes— a lot of TikTokers have been saying this book is spicy…I don’t think that it is, at all really. I don’t even read a ton of spicy books generally (I know this is a blanket statement and doesn’t apply to all smut, but for a lot of what I have read in this area, everything except the sex scenes is usually terrible, and sometimes those are, too, so it just isn’t something I tend to seek out). Basically, I heard that ACOTAR was super spicy and that isn’t why I decided to read it anyway, and I’m not sure what this says about me, but I really don’t think it’s that spicy at all. There are sex scenes for sure, but at least in this book they’re pretty tame and while I’d say the story as a whole is geared toward adults (because of the darker themes and violence, then the occasional sex scene), I wouldn’t use the term “spicy.”

A final note, especially if you plan on reading the ACOTAR series; Use TikTok and the internet in general carefully. The algorithms all know I’m reading this series, and it feels like I’m just out here dodging spoilers all the time.

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