A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first volume of a romantic fantasy trilogy by bestselling Throne of Glass author Sarah J. Maas. It's an imaginative, violent retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with gory battles, gruesome injuries, and violent death, plus lots of romantic longing, raging passion, and sex-drenched menace. Several characters, including protagonist Feyre and the cursed faerie lord Tamlin, show great courage and selflessness in trying to protect innocent lives and face impossible ethical dilemmas, including sending their loved ones to their doom. They don't always choose well, but they try to make things right as best they can. Recurring strong language includes "s--t," "damn," and "hell."
What's the story?
In a vaguely ancient-Celtic world (whose map, at the beginning of the book, strongly resembles the British Isles) where the faeries regularly war with one another, engage in back-stabbing intrigue, and massacre hapless victims of all species, humans struggle to survive on the tiny bit of territory the faeries have left them. Nineteen-year-old Feyre, the youngest child in a merchant family that's lost all its money, keeps her father and sisters alive by hunting in the woods, but one day in the dead of winter, when they're all about to starve, she kills a huge wolf. Before long, a huge, ferocious beast comes from the faery world to take revenge and drags Feyre off to his kingdom. Once there, her shape-shifting captor drops his disguise (though he retains claws throughout), revealing himself as Tamlin, a High Fae and, it turns out, a perfect host, despite the mask that never leaves his face. Surrounded by beauty and kindness in A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, Feyre soon begins to fall in love with Tamlin -- and to learn more about the terrible curse that hangs over him and his people.
Is it any good?
Both bodices and bodies are ripped to shreds early and often in this sexy, violent, magic-steeped page-turner. Narrator/protagonist Feyre may sometime bog things down in internal hand-wringing, and an occasional anachronistic howler creeps into the dialogue. But, as the dark, romantic, Beauty and the Beast-based saga unfolds, bestselling author Sarah J. Maas reveals complex characters, puts them in impossible situations, and sets up plenty of developments in future volumes.
Along the way, there's a lot of sexual tension and release, with plenty of overheated description, such as: "His bite lightened, and his tongue caressed the place his teeth had been. He didn't move -- he just remained in that spot, kissing my neck. Intently, territorially, lazily. Heat pounded between my legs, and as he ground his body against me, against every aching spot, a moan slipped past my lips."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about new stories based on old, traditional tales, as with this reinvention of Beauty and the Beast. Do you like getting creative with existing material? Do you think sometimes it goes too far? How?
How do you feel about stories where the protagonist is forced to choose among various options, all of them bad? Was someone you know ever in that position? What did they do? How did they decide?
- Author: Sarah J. Maas
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Fairy Tales, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
- Publication date: May 11, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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