Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars
Another title to add to those that fall under the modern retellings of classic fairytales, this one being Beauty and the Beast, but coming from the author of the bestselling Throne of Glass series, there’s no way I wasn’t going to give this a try. Like any SJM book, the reviews are mostly lovingly obsessive and elated over having another YA Fantasy series of hers to get into, and with reading the blurb on what this book is about, it also makes total sense.
After completing this book, I felt the same things as when I read Throne of Glass for the first time: intrigued, entertained, and hopeful for all the possibilities where this story could possibly go. We have a young heroine, a fascinating world, gorgeous fae men, snarky comebacks, and a teasing sample of the evil that threatens their world, and all the while this book also feels like pure set up for what else may come our way, and oh boy, there will probably be a lot coming! The main differences in this story is:
1.) it’s more high fantasy and less grimdark like the beginning of TOG
2.) Romance is put on the forefront instead of a story of revenge/redemption.
What It’s About:
Feyre Archeron, the youngest of three sisters along with only their father, has grown up used to being the only one who can actually take care of her family, who live in poverty and can barely scrape by. They live in the southern, mortal lands of Prythian, where humans have an uneasy treaty with the High Lords of the Fae, who all have their own kingdoms throughout the land north of the invisible force field known as “The Wall.”
When out in the woods hunting for food, Feyre witnesses a wolf trying to take the deer she pursued, and ends up killing it out of self defense. She has no idea the choice she made right then and there would change her life forever, because it turned out that the wolf was actually a powerful fae who’d altered their appearance, and mortals killing anyone fae comes with deadly consequences.
The High Lord of the Spring Court, Lord Tamlin, comes to her home to take her and have her live at his chateau as his prisoner (although, if how she lives there is called a prison, she’s not really suffering too much). Tamlin wears a golden mask that hides most of his features, but seems weary of answering a lot of the questions that pop up along the way, which only makes Feyre even more curious to want to find out more the longer she’s there, but as she learns why, her initial distrust and hostility slowly turns to passion and lust as she also discovers the dangers that lurk within the magical realm.
It turns out theres an ancient curse on the land, and Feyre may have something to do in order to being able to help faerie kind break it before its too late, and the man she comes to love will be lost forever…
What I Liked:
- Lots and Lots of Great Characters! SJM absolutely excels at creating fun, interesting characters and giving them a unique dynamic to help drive the story. In this title, I’d say my favorite characters are Lucien, the crafty but loyal best friend of Tamlin, The Suriel who is a low fae that is extremely hard to find but has to tell the truth of any question you have should you capture him, and Rhysand…oh Rhysand…how much I want to say, but in due time with later book reviews…in this title, he’s a conflicting character; an intriguing villain/anti-hero, the High Lord of the Night Court and the most powerful of all the High Lords of the Fae, but is the right hand man of a madwoman…well, those fae males can’t be entirely perfect.
- Hints at More to Come! Like the first TOG title, this book felt like it was just entirely set up for what’s to come later on in the series, and one thing I love doing is brainstorming, thinking of all sorts of ideas of what those possibilities may actually be, and even helps me develop my own ideas for writing.
- The Worldbuilding! SJM seemed to have took more time and delicately plan out the world she wanted to have this story take place in, and seems to want to share every aspect of it, except that she doesn’t go into as much detail as I’d have liked about the other courts within Prythian. There’s seven total courts total, and they are differentiated by the seasons (Summer, Spring, Autumn, and Winter) along with the time of day (Dawn, Day, Night). The reason I put this in the “like” column is because my hope was that these courts are all shown to us later on in the series, and I was incredibly interested to see how the author made these different kingdoms come to life.
What I Didn’t Like:
- It’s Slower Paced…SJM’s writing has improved over time and has become so much more eloquent and compelling, and there’s a ton of action going on in her other series around the time this title was released, but you may feel like you’re taking a few steps back with this one, as the overall pacing is much slower than what we’ve gotten used to. The worldbuilding is given much more specific attention, but the real danger/action doesn’t start until the last third of the book, which is kind of a shame because the author writes action so incredibly well. This story feels a little less plot driven, but more character driven and just plain exploring a new and unusual world, which isn’t always the best route to go in terms of a fantasy genre novel. Luckily, there are little snippets that hint at danger that can keep you guessing and wondering enough to keep on reading!
- It’s Not really a Retelling…So after reading this book, I can conclude that while there are many aspects that may be seen as similar, it’s not entirely an actual Beauty and the Beast retelling, or if it is, it’s not the best in terms of that aspect. Tamlin seems to be put in the position as the Beast: the ruler of the cursed land, the one who must somehow break that curse, and has his subjects who also share the punishment with him. While I personally know more into the story as I type this review, I know this is not true at all…but like I said, more on that later in other reviews…All I can say to sum it all up is, yes, the first part of this story feels like another retelling, but then when Feyre goes under the mountain, it changes the whole game!
Sarah J. Maas does it again with the start of another fantasy series that feels so very different from Throne of Glass, and allows us to once again start over with her words, but this time after having her writing improve dramatically over the years. The world she’s created for this is much more complex, but the pacing is slower than what we’ve come to be used to with her writing…Feyre is no Aelin, that is for sure… Romance takes a bigger, more central role to the story, and the vibe is much more sensual than most YA titles seem to go towards, which leads me to say that for those that care should know that it’s a little more mature than what the genre usually gives us. If you don’t cringe at sex scenes, yay for you! Enjoy 😉
I don’t necessarily recommend this title for those looking for a Beauty and the Beast retelling; it’s there, but it’s also not prominent in the overall execution, but more for those searching for a love story involving the Fae. It is a love story in a way, along with the threat of an evil overlord who threatens the world, but those who like stories that focus on romance will definitely enjoy this title!
Thanks For Reading!
— Nick Goodsell