Rating: 5 Stars
Synopsis via Goodreads:
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
Sarah J. Maas does not disappoint.
I actually finished this some time ago. But I just couldn’t bring myself to write a review that I felt could encompass my love for this novel. It is what I like to call R&R, also known as Reader’s Remorse.
(Why, yes, I made that up completely on the spot.)
It’s when you love everything about a book so much that trying to package your love into a box or review of words just doesn’t work out really well. Every time I sat down and tried to think about what I wanted to say, I got zip, nothing, nada come to mind.
How to describe Feyre? She is like Celaena, where she is tough as nails and makes you want to cry for her all at once, because you know she will never cry for herself, even when she has every reason to.
There was something I saw on Pinterest a little while ago, I think (when I was neck deep in my R&R and was just searching the internet for anything and everything related to ACOTAR), that surmised Feyre and Celaena very well. It was “Celaena inspired you. Feyre will amaze you.”
That’s pretty darn perfect of a deduction, if I do say so myself.
I’ve got a major girl crush on Feyre, just as I do with Celaena.
An unfortunate aspect of YA romance is that an author can spend more time making a reader fall in love with the love interest than with the actual protagonist. I don’t think this is on purpose, but I find it happening more and more. And it’s not that this is even necessarily a bad thing – we all want to fall in love with the love interest right along with the female protagonist. It wouldn’t be that good of a love story if we didn’t.
But a side effect of this is that the female protagonist can get pushed to the side. She’s there, and we obviously notice her, since she’s most likely the main POV and we’re reading how she’d swooning over the love interest, etc. But we never actually fall in love with the female protagonist. And I don’t mean a romantic kind of love, but the kind of love of best friends, something more than just empathy or pity. Something that makes a reader look past the crap that undoubtedly happened and is still happening in the female protagonist’s life to make us see her and go, I wish she was real, because I would pick her over the love interest any day, because she’s that person you want to be best friends with, the person you want to have sleepovers with and want to go out with and show off, because she’s just that amazing and inspiring.
Because as much as I love Tamlin and Lucien and Rhys, if it came down to it and I had to pick Feyre or any of them to save, I would pick Feyre without hesitation.
And that’s something that astounds me with Sarah J. Maas – her uncanny ability to do this with every single one of her female characters. I couldn’t care less who Celaena picks in the end, because I trust her enough to make the right choice for herself in the end, and above all, I just want to read more about Celaena, herself. Not only about her love life or the horrors she dealt with in childhood, but just her. (It doesn’t hurt, either, that she’s surrounded by hot, hot men who all seem to have a thing for her, either, to be completely honest.)
I feel the same about Feyre. I want her as my best friend. I want to package her up and keep her in my pocket wherever I go, so when I’m having a crap day or crap week and even when I’m having the best day or best week, I can always reach into my pocket for some of her strength, for some of her no-nonsense and armor of steel. Because while she’s tough as nails, she’s still human, and still feels, and feels violently. She has doubts and insecurities like the rest of us, but deals with it. And I admire her so much for it all.
Unlike many female protagonists in YA novels today, Feyre is not defined by her mistakes. Too many times I read love stories where the female protagonist makes too many stupid mistakes, and just keeps on making those stupid mistakes. And, somehow, she’s supposed to still be painted as a strong, admirable female lead.
Feyre is far from perfect, but she also deals with any mistakes she makes, and anyone who tells her to feel bad for her mistakes, who makes every mistake feel like the end of the world and blames her for everything, even when many factors were held back from her knowledge, Feyre pushes forward, tells everyone else to suck it, and makes things right, if she can.
It’s bloody fantastic.
Feyre is illiterate. She did not grow up with money – far, far from it actually. She has pride, but not hubris. Never hubris. She loves to paint, but does not have much experience with it. She is not some prodigy in the arts, is not magically perfect at painting the moment she picks up a paintbrush. She is unremarkable to most people, which is something she likes about herself. The only difference is that she has a will of fire.
She is not some blushing, fumbling bimbo the moment she meets Tamlin and the rest of the beautiful Spring Court. Nor is she an innocent little maiden, either.
Which is something I enjoyed more than I expected. There was no slut-shaming here, and it would have been very easy to do so, just because of the time period Feyre was born into and the fact she is not a virgin. She has spilled blood and does what is necessary to help and feed her family, but she still had pride and self-worth. She is not repulsed by her own desires (sexual and otherwise) or guilt-driven, nor does she throw herself at the first attractive man to show her interest.
In fact, Feyre is not so easily won over. It takes a very long time, in fact, but never felt like it was slow going. Tamlin had his pathetic attempts at flirting with her (they’re hilarious) and she just raises an eyebrow at him and is sarcastic. Partly because she thinks he’s just a High Fae Lord who wants to play with the little human girl and partly because she’s still pissed at him for taking her away from her human family.
But, of course, Tamlin has those times, those glorious times, when he says or does something that makes your pulse jump out of your throat. And this affects Feyre, of course, but not enough to make her loose her cool. In fact, there is even a time when one of the hotter scenes happens, and Tamlin is feeling all macho and brave for getting a reaction out of Feyre, and he says something he shouldn’t, so what does Feyre do?
She slaps him, his hotness and flirtations be damned.
I was also glad to see that Tamlin never tried to shield Feyre. Sure, there are many things in the Faerie Courts that Feyre could die from, things that she had to be hidden from for her safety, but it was never because Tamlin thought it was because she was weak, or because he was trying to be all big, bad, strong High Fae over her. Feyre is a huntress, and Tamlin understands that.
Ah . . . Tamlin.
There were quite a few times I had to stop reading and fan myself, honestly. Tamlin was . . . intense. I liked him so much more than I expected, and in many ways, he reminded me of Rowan, and, good gosh, you bet I was thanking God for that.
There is even an old poem called “Tam Lin.” Whether this was intentional or not, I have no idea. But it starts out like this:
“O I forbid you, maidens all,
That wear gold in your hair,
To come or go by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.”
I was thoroughly impressed with all the faeries, of all the courts. They are all so different and unique.
Faeries in most novels tend be unemotional and cruel. Which is how I like ’em, to be honest. And while that is true here, in abundance, there is also a nice diversity of personalities.
Not everyone likes Feyre. Lucien may not necessarily hate her, but he is no friend to her, either. And she is not disappointed in this fact, either.
Because it’s not like she likes being kidnapped by Tamlin and brought to his Spring Court home. So she tries to use Lucien to help get her out. And while I would never call them friends, exactly, but they make a wicked pairing just the same.
Ah . . . and then there was Rhys.
He is cruel and the ruler of the Night Court, the most vicious of them all, which is really saying something. He scorns Feyre and everyone else, and while he never has a wholly redeeming moment, he is undeniably loyal to his court and fae. He is no pushover, and will scheme and plot and take advantage of anything and everyone for the sake of himself and his court. He loves himself, have no doubt. But we never see him as unnecessarily cruel. When he is cruel (and make no doubt that he truly is), he does it for the sake of his position and for the Night Court.
He will not run to save his own skin even if it means his own demise. And while he may look to have all the power and control, it could very well all be an appearance he has conjured to make himself not appear weak and endanger his court.
Most of the book was me drooling over Tamlin, and while the appearance of the true Rhys never hampered that love (and lust), he was equally drool worthy.
Good gosh, he was.
He does not coddle Feyre when she is in the most pain of her life, when the future of all the courts depends on if she is strong enough, physically, mentally, and emotionally. He is not necessarily kind to her, either. But he is on her side, and that is not nothing. And he even goes to her for his own kind of pain, because she is the only one he feels safe to do so.
He tells her things that could endanger him, tells her things that go against his true character.
I am hoping (oh, hoping, hoping so freakin’ much) that the sequel is in Feyre’s POV again. I hate it when an author switches it up in a series, and I’ve heard some rumors that the POV will be different, possibly in one of Feyre’s sister’s, which I really, really don’t want. I like Feyre far too much.