Unique in a way that makes you fall even more in in love with the characters–that’s how I summarize this Beauty and the Beast retelling by Sarah J. Maas.
SUMMARY (from back): When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.
WHAT I THOUGHT: This is my second read of this book. I read it the first time when it came out a year ago in May 2015, but with the release of the second book, A Court of Mist and Fury days ago, I needed to reread it to remind myself what had happened. I found the second reading even better than the first, filling in details I hadn’t noticed before.
So, lets first touch on the amazing and beautiful world that Maas built. Humans live in fear of the powerful fae living north of an invisible, but magically strong wall. Fae who live forever and must manage the politics by and between seven courts: Spring, Summer, Winter, Autumn, Dawn, Day, and Night. And then there’s Hybern, a monstrous island that is set up as a threat to the fae for later, in another book in the series. When I first saw the names of the courts, I remember rolling my eyes thinking how unoriginal, but Maas does a good job giving us enough detail and flavor for differences between that the lack of originality actually worked, although I’m looking for even more rich differences as the series progresses. I’m particularly looking to understand the different powers each of the High Lord’s of these courts wield.
And then there’s the characters…
Feyre is a nineteen year old who has been the provider for a family, formerly of means and status, who has fallen on very hard times as a result of her father getting greedy with his business dealings and losing everything. She’s the only one who is mobilized to hunt and do anything pragmatic to help her, her two sisters and father survive. From the get go we see a character who is strong and who cares for others at her own expense, but whose heart is fragile after everything she’s been through. Such a great foundation.
When she kills a fae in disguise on the human side of the wall, we meet Tamlin who claims Feyre and drags her north to the Spring court. Tamlin is set up as a mysterious character who only after conversation with his second in command do we come to learn his name, and only after conversation with a creature who Feyre ensnares and must tell the truth, that he is High Lord of the Spring court. This unveiling does a good job at building the secrecy that is prevalent among the fae. And based upon how Tamlin treats Feyre, protecting, caring for, and more, when she deeply understands she is nothing in Fae society as a human, I found myself rooting for the pair.
And then there’s Lucien, Tamlin’s second in command who has a gold fake eye, replacing the one someone or something dug from his head. The detail sets up the mystery of his background. We observe his indifference of Feyre and only later come to understand and appreciate all the trauma he has endured as a member of the Autumn court now living in Spring court.
The details of these main characters and their flaws make them relatable and endearing.
And then there’s the plot. I feel like there should be ominous music playing LOL. Wow, Maas’s amazing imagination is fully on display and satisfies the need for gripping suspense, rooting for the underdog, and hoping the best for lovers pining but separated by a powerful, evil villainness, Amarantha. As you might imagine, Feyre is the target as the weak human, used as a tool to get at Tamlin who has fallen madly in love with her. Oh goodness… what a series of conflicts that has you cheering the whole way.
I won’t spoil the ending but will just say that Maas sets up book two in a satisfying, but not in-your-face announcement kind of way, giving Feyre more powers than she started with.
This is a must read! I give it 5 stars!
NOTE: I would call this New Adult, not YA based on the mature situations detailing torture and some explicit sexual content.
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