Updated: Dec 19, 2021
A Court of Thorns and Roses is a fairytale twist that I have read before but not one that makes it to the top of the list of my favorite books. Though I have reviewed the books before, I had not read the entire series when I previously made my review.
One of my sister's favorite authors is Sarah J. Maas. In particular, she enjoys the Court of Thorns and Roses series which I mentioned when I first reviewed them here. When I first reviewed the book, however, I had not completed the series. In fact, the series was quite difficult to complete given the length of the books and some of the frustrations I have with them. Having now completed the series, I felt it necessary to update my review on the books particularly as I feel I can now give a more thorough review of the books.
The Court of Thorns and Roses series is overall, not a bad series. The plotline is captivating enough that it kept me reading the books. I did enjoy the characters and get invested in their lives. I wanted to know more about them and was excited for them when good things happened and sad when they were hurt. I did have some issues with the series though particularly revolving around the way Sarah J. Maas handled her fairy tales.
You may know that the first book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series is actually a fairytale twist book. It twists the tale of Beauty and the Beast (which was actually the reason that I read it given that my next novel is a twist on this fairytale). However, what you may not have realized is that there are many other fairytales that make an appearance in the series.
I was unsure of myself at first. I recognized the fairytale in which the character pulls beans from the ashes and the fairytale in which the character has to complete 3 tasks to win back their man but I was unsure of whether the placement in the book was intentional or not. I couldn't be sure I wasn't imagining things. Then I read about "Vassa," a firebird by day and queen by night. Some might not recognize the Russian fairytale but I had read the book Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter (recommended to me by a friend). The novel is a (very graphic and, in my opinion, poorly done) twist on the Russian fairytale "Vassilissa the Beautiful." Seeing the name Vassa confirmed it for me—Maas includes many fairytales in this series.
My issue with this is that the fairytales are not thought out or explained at all and there is no consistency in how they are used. For 75% of the first book, readers can follow along with the book as though it is a twist on Beauty and the Beast. In the remaining 25% of the book, there appear to be 2-3 other fairytales jammed in the book with Feyre still at the center of them. In other books, fairytales appear for even less time and the "fairytale characters" are not Feyre. Their names are sometimes even the same as those of the original stories. Sarah J. Maas seems to take from fairytales (from all cultures), Greek myth, and even the Bible and use the stories for inspiration before throwing them away like she never used them. She doesn't appear to create a world of fairytales like in Land of Stories nor a set of fairytale twists like in The Lunar Chronicles but instead lies somewhere in between. I do not like it.
While my frustrations with Sarah J. Maas's use of fairytales could be considered a personal preference, I felt that her strange book splits were not. To me, it felt as though Sarah J. Maas had a great plan for her series as a whole but no idea where to start and end her books. This, I felt, was the reason the first book had an awkward ending (I felt that the last 1/4 should have been a part of the next book) and that some of the books had slow beginnings. I also felt that, with a better ending to the third book, the fourth book (a filler book) could have either been thrown out or adapted to be an extra book. As it was, the fourth book was a little boring and void of any plot but still essential to understand the fifth book.
My final frustration was largely with the fifth book which felt like erotica (not that I have ever read any of them to compare it to). Though all of the books included graphic sex scenes I had to skip or skim (to catch the character's dialogue), the fifth book in the series (particularly the first half) had so much sex and thoughts about sex that I began to question whether or not I was reading a fantasy novel about high fae, faeries, sword fights and magic, and begun to wonder if I had accidentally picked up erotica (which I make a point to avoid).
It was unpleasant and frustrating. Beyond that, it was unnecessary.
Let me give you an illustration to show you my point. I do not curse. It is a personal choice not forced on me by anyone or even something that I feel is ordered by my religion. However, I choose not to curse. That doesn't mean, however, I am bothered by cursing. I don't particularly care if others choose to curse. In fact, I can even recognize that in my writing, I might choose to curse once or twice because it might be necessary. It might fit the scene and characters. What I do find frustrating is when others choose to curse every second sentence. Then it becomes entirely unnecessary.
It is a thought to leave you with.
I would still suggest picking up The Court of Thorns and Roses series particularly if you don't think you would be bothered by the things mentioned above. The plot and characters are good and ultimately, that is what makes a book.