Review: ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ by Sarah Maas Gives a Whole New Spin to Beauty and the Beast

This article contains spoilers.

Young Adult fiction has been bombarded with the same plot lines and story structure for the past few years. Have you ever heard the story about a teenage girl being thrown into an impossible situation, and while she plans to overcome it, she meets two different boys who bring out opposing versions of her?

Which one will she choose in the end and how will she change the world?

Refreshingly, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas doesn’t follow that formula.

The first book of the series is a retelling of the famous Beauty and the Beast story. It is centered around protagonist Feyre, a 19-year-old woman who is forced to live with a fae (sometimes called a fairy) named Tamlin after she murders his friend, who was disguised as a wolf prowling through the woods.

This is due to a treaty made between the humans and the fae after a war. The treaty states that if a human kills a fae, that person needs to repay for the fae’s life with their own life.

This book was different and invigorating. Feyre is illiterate, the middle child and a hunter. She plunges into the dangerous forest every day to hunt for food, going against the warnings of her village and the rumors about the fae attacking humans again.

Before I continue, I would like to warn those who have not read the book to not continue reading due to spoilers. Or read at your own risk.

Although her family has little love for her, she continues to do whatever is necessary for them to survive to keep her deceased mother’s promise.

Due to its Beauty and the Beast influences, the book is mainly centered on romance. Most heroines in YA have never had relationships with men, and often fall for the first guy who shows an interest in her. But Feyre, despite never having a boyfriend, has intimate relations with a man in her village.

However, Feyre has neither fallen in love nor let anyone take care of her.

Feyre’s strong sense of independence and self-sufficiency manifests throughout the story, especially while she fights to escape a foreign land and return to her family. Amongst creatures that were far superior to her in nature, Feyre doesn’t let her guard down and manages to prove herself by not wavering when darkness begins to curse Tamlin’s domain.

I adored the first person narrative throughout the book, which allows the reader to see how Feyre envisions her surroundings. Feyre is a painter, so she describes everything in detail—the sunlight beaming through the trees, the flowers bursting in the gardens, the colors swirling in a sunset—all naturesque scenes that she desperately wants to paint.

As an amateur artist, her descriptions made me imagine things more vividly, causing the book to become a pulsing reality. As soon as Feyre begins to paint, she becomes more alive, illustrating her nightmares, her dreams, her most selfish and unstoppable desires.

The range of characters in this book is rich, each of them is complex, complete with tragic backstories and profound determination. I hope that in the next book readers get to know more about them and gain more insight and knowledge about the world they live in.

I am anticipating more details on fae politics, such as how the civil war in the fae world and the war between them and the humans will unfold. I believe that the villain in this book was only a minor threat to what’s going to come next.

I enjoyed Lucien -Tamlin’s emissary- and his sarcasm. However, I hope that in the next books his character is explored more. He takes up the role as sidekick in this book, and as soon as Tamlin and Feyre express their infatuation with each other, he leaves the scene saying, “I believe I have important things to do.”

Which leads me to Feyre and Tamlin. My heart throbbed when he asked her, “has anyone taken care of you?” and they spend their first date walking through his art gallery (MY DREAM).

Although this book is supposed to reflect Beauty and the Beast, Feyre isn’t repulsed by Tamlin, but rather she was more curious about him. I understand the mask he is cursed with is supposed to cover up his ‘true self,’ but his curse isn’t much of a barrier between him and Feyre.

He does shift into a beast that resembles a lion and often has to suppress his anger, although  this element of the fairytale doesn’t affect their relationship.

The next book will follow the story of Persephone and Hades. Let me take a moment to compose myself. Ever since I read this Greek mythology story in sixth grade, I completely fell in love with it.

This might disgust you—Hades tricked Persephone and kidnapped her for half a year, taking her away from her family and friends, forcing her to live in the Underworld… how can you possibly be excited for this?

Well, before she ate the pomegranate seeds, Persephone was just the goddess of springtime. She didn’t hold much importance compared to Poseidon, Zeus and Hera.

But then she suddenly became Queen of the Underworld, powerful and captivating the attention of both the living and the dead, mortals and immortals alike.

Could it be possible that Persephone took those seeds voluntarily, knowing the opportunity they possessed? Who’s to say that she wasn’t infatuated with Hades, falling for him during those months?

After what happened to Feyre in the end, in which darkness enters her heart because of her deeds, it seems like her dynamic will change. With all the similarities between Persephone and Feyre–she’s now a High Lord of the Spring Court–and Hades and Rhysand, the Lord of the Night Court, I am absolutely sure that their storyline will reflect that of the Greek gods.

For me, her relationship with Tamlin is like Stockholm Syndrome. Although he is a great man, worships the ground she walks on and obviously loves her enough to die for her, his adoration doesn’t make me believe they can actually work out. He is too impulsive and intense, revealed in the scene before Feyre’s final trial to undo his curse.

A large part of my disapproval has to do with how I ship her with Rhysand.

If you’ve read the Grisha trilogy by the amazing Leigh Bardugo, you’ll understand what I mean when I say he’s like the Darkling’s sassy brother, full of swagger and sensuality.

His interactions with Feyre are filled to the brim with desperation, vulnerability and mystery. They created a bond that forced him to fight the evil queen while Feyre was on the brink of death (this the part where my heart exploded, by the way).

I know I will enjoy the next book tremendously, locking the door and throwing the key across my university’s campus because Feyre and Rhys ARE Persephone and Hades. It’s going to be deliciously good.

However, I am already preparing myself for disappointment because most of my ships usually don’t end up together—Nikolai and Alina in the Grisha trilogy, Rowan and Celaena in Throne of Glass series (we will see), Blue and Gansey in the Raven Boys series (we will see, sob).

I will have to re-read it a dozen more times and continue to rant on Tumblr. May 2016 is too far away!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. 

headshotKarla Casique is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at

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