A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas

Rating: 5 stars

court of thorns and rosesI didn’t want to like this book, mainly because I have a great problem with people who spell fairy “faerie” because they think it is all “mystical”, but I enjoyed this so much that I even got over that.

This is just a great fantasy romance novel. It’s very exciting and absorbing – I read it in one go on the train (it was a three hour train) and I couldn’t put it down once I had got into it. It’s obviously written by someone who knows a lot of fairy mythology and who has cleverly incorporated this into a “beauty and the beast” style narrative. But that’s then taken one step further.

By far my favourite section was the last third, which I won’t spoil, in which Maas moves away from the source material and into something more original. It really comes to life there, and I will very much look forward to the next instalment. This third section does contain the easiest riddle EVER – I’m not sure how many smug points an adult woman can garner from finding a riddle for tweens easy peasy, but anyway…

There’s a deal of pearl-clutching on Amazon and Goodreads because this book has been put in the 11+ age bracket and it contains some s.e.x. (chorus of gasps). Obviously, it is the prerogative of every parent to make the decision based on each individual child, tween, etc. whether they are comfortable with them reading this stuff, but when you can flick past violent rapes on game of thrones at 9pm or read abusive stalking dressed up as romance over someone’s shoulder on the tube, I’m not sure that an eleven year old reading some explicitly consensual sex based in a deep emotional connection and mutual trust would be too disturbed. In fact, as a rare and welcome depiction of a woman with her own sexual desires and preferences I would probably encourage girls of the 12–15 age bracket to read this. After all, sex ed is on the secondary school syllabus from Year 7 so they will know what it is.

Aside from this, there are lots of women characters in the book that are just characters, and this struck me as (upsettingly) unusual. As in, they would not have needed to be women for the plot to work – usually there’s the main woman, the love rival, perhaps someone’s mother, but this book was populated by complex women and men loving complex lives, and I was shocked at how refreshing I found this. More of this kind of thing, please!

Louise CAV ReviewsReviewed by Louise

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