A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 1

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Dark magic, gore, hot faerie romance mark mature fantasy.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 39 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A Court of Thorn and Roses revisits the Beauty and the Beast theme and may encourage readers to explore other variations. Strong overtones of Celtic mythology, particularly the tale of shape-shifting Tam Lin and his human lover, may inspire some to delve deeper into that material.

Positive Messages

Maintain selfless dedication to duty, even when your loved ones are ungrateful. True love, skill, and huge self-control overcome many obstacles. Try to do the right thing even when all your choices are bad.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Feyre, Tamlin, and his scarred, loyal friend Lucien are conscientious and loyal and make many sacrifices for one another. Faerie Alis is a faithful servant to Tamlin, as are his friends who willingly give their lives to help save their country.

Violence

Killing, mutilation, and gore -- of faeries, humans, and other species -- are a constant presence and vividly described, as when a faerie's wings are hacked off or another's head is impaled in the garden. Characters are sometimes forced to kill against their will; sometimes they do it enthusiastically. There's also strong sexual menace: One character becomes the lackey and sex slave of an evil queen to save his kingdom from a worse fate; Feyre is menaced by characters intent on raping and killing her and in other scenes is beaten until her bones fracture. The royals and courtiers of the various faerie Courts have a long history of deadly intrigue that often runs to wiping out all their relatives.

Sex

Though the heated descriptions are usually more titillating than graphic, sex is a big part of the story, and it's not just the attraction between Feyre and Tamlin. As the story begins, Feyre's friends-with-benefits relationship with a village boy is ending; Tamlin, being immortal, has had many lovers. A character must play the starring role in a fertility rite, having ritual sex to ensure the year's crops.

Language

Multiple uses of crude language, including "s--t," "balls," "damn," and "hell," most often as "go to hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Despite many warnings not to drink faerie wine, Feyre does on several occasions, including a long period where she gets drunk every night when her captor forces her to attend parties with him.

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."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bylolas1 November 18, 2015

Lovely

A great book. My 12 year old has read this and loves it. Does have violence, swearing a and sex - but it's the 21st century. 99% of 12 year olds are well e... Continue reading
Adult Written byKWrite February 5, 2016

Not a Young Adult Book!

Though this book is fantastically done it is currently listed as a Young Adult book. The sex scenes are explicit involving the following phrases “spreading,” “s... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written by[email protected] November 24, 2015

One of the best books I have ever read!

This book was so much fun to read! The story all together had the perfect mixture of romance, high fantasy, and perfect world building. I loved it so much, thei... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byDylanjr3 October 12, 2016

Great book for a mature audience

The sex in this book isn't too bad, but the second one is on a whole new level.

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?

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