Updated: Dec 20, 2021
A Court of Thorns and Roses is my sister, Emily's favorite series. The first book in the series is also a Beauty and the Beast twist. As I struggled to figure out what I wanted to do with my own Beauty and the Beast twist (knowing a few things I wanted from it but struggling to find ways to ensure it was different from the Disney version) I felt that reading another twist could be incredibly beneficial.
I figured out what I needed to for my own series, not two chapters into the book (entirely on my own in the shower. It had nothing to do with the book).
But I kept reading the book. I enjoyed the twisted version of the original Beauty and the Beast tale. It is not often you find a twist that does a good job of sticking to the original tale and not including Disney elements. I did enjoy this. Though I did feel that near the end there seemed to be elements of some other fairytales and myths which was a bit strange to me.
I did find the book long. Which perhaps was not on the author so much as the formatter. I read my sister's paperback copy and though the book was only 416 pages (I have been keeping track this year), I felt like it was a lot more. Perhaps the writing was closer together on the pages, the margins smaller, I do not know. Whatever it was, it made me really struggle to read the book as it felt endless. I am reading the second book now (my own copy. A second-hand hardcover I bought at a library book sale a while ago) and it is better.
I did also feel like the book should have ended at least twice before the actual end and once after the false endings it felt as though the pages after it were very hurried. It felt like the last hundred or so pages could have been chopped off and lengthened, turned into a book of their own (and another fairytale twist on a different fairytale).
That being said, I really enjoyed the author's description. While I do feel I am doing better at description now, I am always up for learning from authors as I still have a long way to go. I felt that Sarah J. Mass had vivid descriptions of her characters and scenery that I could learn from and I enjoyed reading them. Not only that, but I could take a little learning from her passionate love scenes as well. Though not as intense as Robyn Carr's, they certainly have some mature content. I still insert [INSERT KISS SCENE HERE] every time I come to a kiss scene and come back to it later, a book or two in hand to learn from and borrow different words from (though not phrases or sentences. I do not plagiarize).
Though admittedly, I found the love in the book to be a bit out of place. (SPOILER AHEAD). I felt that Tamlin and Feyre were simply enemies right up until they were having sex. There was not so much a "slow burn" romance as it was a "whelp, I guess I've fallen for my captor" romance. It very suddenly happened.
I did find I learned from her use of "cauldron" in a different way though. I am currently still struggling to figure out what to use as my series's key phrase. What do the characters use to curse (other than actual curses)? To show awe? To show surprise? In this series, the phrase is "Cauldron." It is random. It is strange. It is out of place. And the reasoning behind the use of the word is not given until after the word is used for the first time. It was a great example of what not to do with my phrase.
While I did find plenty of things wrong with the series aside from the saying (it is simply not Sarah J. Mass's best series. I do prefer the Throne of Glass series), I did pick up the next book after finishing the first one. Ultimately, the plot was good enough to keep me reading, I enjoyed the description, and I did fall for the characters. I would suggest the book for fantasy lovers and fairytale retelling lovers. But ensure that you are ready for the mature content if you read it.