Bloomsbury, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-4088-5786-1
I would have likely enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first in Sarah J Maas’s new series, much more if I were in my early teens and yearning for the world to understand that every little thing I do, even digging my nose, is truly special. Because I am an adult, I can’t help viewing this story from the perspective of one, and the story comes off as supremely contrived and annoying as a result.
It starts out solid. Feyre, our heroine and ugh to that name, is a martyr to her family, having vowed to her late mother (who neglected to educate her the way she educated her older sisters just because) to take care of them. Her father wallows in self pity and delusions, her older sisters take her for granted and don’t treat her nicely, and yet Feyre hunts and does stuff to make sure that they all have food and money. One day, she kills a faerie in wolf form – they are both competing for a doe – and skins it before selling the pelt for some money that her sisters can then use to pamper themselves.
Oh yes, in this world, humans were once enslaved by the faerie folks, until they revolted. The faeries retreated north, taking their magic with them, and a wall is built to separate the humans’ lands from the faeries’. A treaty is signed, allowing the two factions to co-exist in uneasy peace. Anyway, Feyre’s family is soon visited by an angry faerie in wolf form, who demands reparations for what Feyre did. The treaty calls for her life as the appropriate punishment, so this fellow, Tamlin, does just that. Only, he’s tired of deaths and what not, so he only insists that Feyre come stay at his land… forever.
This is where the story falls apart for me after the initial gripping build-up. Surprise, Tamlin is a High Fae, the ruler of the Spring Court, because heaven forbid a teenage special snowflake is forced to swap saliva with anyone who isn’t royalty. And so, he brings her to his magnificent palace, gives her lots of food, provides her with a personal maid, and even gives her a place and the supplies needed for the special snowflake to express the obligatory creativity skills – in her case, painting. He even offers to teach her to read. Not only that, he even provides for the family she left behind.
What, then, is the conflict, you may ask?
Well, there is some kind of blight that is making magic go awry and there are some evil scummy plans afoot, with dead or dying faeries showing up in Tamlin’s land. But don’t ask me about what is exactly happening, because Tamlin is a joy of a character in that he will never tell Feyre – and hence, me – anything. It’s all “Go away, don’t worry about details as I’ll take care of it!” or some variation of that when it comes to this guy. Unsurprisingly, Feyre will do all kinds of stupid things like running off alone even after being told never to do so, only to get into all kinds of trouble and needing rescue. Is this annoying? Of course. But perhaps she wouldn’t have to be such a colossally stupid and reckless moron if Tamlin would be straight up and just tell her what the hell is going on.
On Feyre’s part, her conflict at the bulk of the early part of this story is that she must go home and resume being the unpaid and unappreciated slave to her family. Yes, really. I’m sure you can tell how much I’m just invested in her dilemma. Later on, of course, it’s all about trying to prove to Tamlin that her love is pure and her honey is better than the obligatory evil slut ho bag that we all know must show up in any reading material for teenage girls. Oh look at me, I’m so thrilled, I deliberately sit on this book when I feel some flatulence coming on.
Of course, the High Fae are all basically shiny humans with pointed ears – Legolas with bigger penises, in other words – while the lesser faeries, the ones whose penises Feyre has no interest in whatsoever, are of different forms and sizes that make her go all icky and eeuw. That’s not elitist or snobby at all, oh no, as we all know that Tall, Handsome, Muscular, Fair, and Sexy is the only master race that deserves the honey of special snowflake. Despite supposedly having lived for so long, Tamlin realizes that the bratty Feyre is not like other humans when she puts a band-aid on his wound. She is so special! So amazing! So remarkable! She cries and goes boo-hoo-hoo when she sees a dying faerie – this really means that she is 10,000,000% special-er than special! Like I said, if I was 15, I might be better able to buy that some band-aid and tears would elevate a stupid girl into something truly special like no other woman that guy has ever come across in his long existence, but since I’m an adult, I have only eyerolls to give.
Oh, and this one can go from icky sweetness to OH MY GOD I AM FEELING SO HOT DOWN THERE BETWEEN MY LEGS in an abrupt manner. It all begins when Tamlin tells Feyre to stay in her room – without telling why she must do that, naturally – during some hornytoad orgy festival night and she of course goes out to peek, only to nearly get assaulted by horny faeries before learning that that is one night when everyone boinks to make sure that the magic remains… er, magical to keep the land happy. So, for the greater good, Tamlin will have to ejaculate his magical fae goo into some lady – there is no homo when it comes to faerie woo-woo, sorry guys – and oh no, he’s now upset because he smelled her that night and went looking for her, only to be forced to do that magical “For the land, HO-OOO-OOO-HAAA!” thing with some other woman instead, and the whole thing gets really weird, like Care Bears suddenly start making out and I find myself squirming in discomfort and thinking, “Wait a minute, shouldn’t this be some kind of Rule 34 thing?”
Anyway, this is one story that is calculated from start to finish to make the reader see herself in Feyre’s shoes and imagine herself to be the most special snowflake in the land ever just by existing. Sure, Feyre can hunt and do things, which is a plus, but for the most part, everyone who isn’t that slutty ho bag adores her and everything comes way too easily for her in this story. No genuine conflict, no credible sense of danger, not even a good plot. Just another day of unearned pretties and wonderful things in the life of a special snowflake.