Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA/New Adult Fantasy, retelling
Pages: Hardback, 416
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Opening Lines: "The forest had become a labyrinth of snow and ice."
"When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a breast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once rule their world.
"As Feyre dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility to 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 over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever . . . "
~ Jacket copy
If you haven't guessed it by this point, I suppose it is only nice to tell you . . . I am back in a retelling kick.
At its basic level, this is a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast with the "evil" faeries as the backdrop. Young Feyre is out hunting for food during the long, grueling winter. Spying a wolf about ready to take her quarry, she decides to kill it before it has the chance. It doesn't hurt anything that she is convinced it is one of the Fae rumored to sneak through the Wall and hurt people. After killing it, skinning it, and then selling its fur for a pretty penny, a large beast bursts into their house demanding penance. According to a treaty signed by the humans and Fae, her life is forfeit. Offering her an alternative to death, Feyre is taken to live across the Wall in Prythian.
Before I start, I loved this book! It kept me up reading into the night, kept me anti-social during my lunch breaks, and consumed all of my time once I got home from work. I could not put it down, nor did I want to finish reading it. That being said, however, I could not give it five skulls . . .
Within the first few pages, I wanted to put the book down. Feyre's voice is insipid and whiny. Yes, she was the only person willing to feed her family; however, she spent more time complaining about her lot in life and a promise she made to her mother than much of anything else. In addition to which, the attitude taken toward her sisters was infuriating! It was understandable . . . To a point.
Aside from setting the stage, I felt that the story didn't truly start to come into its own until after she was taken into Prythian. The audience wasn't given too much of her backstory until she started relating things to Tamlin and having moral quandaries with leaving them. In addition, the scene was better written and fleshed out once she crossed the Wall. That could have been an intentionally planned writing tool; however, it made everything before seem lackluster and unimportant.
The characters in the book were quite interesting, and the author really could have done some amazing things with them. Sadly, she really failed to make them very three dimensional. I felt that Lucien was one of the better characters. He had a great presence in the book and tended to just fill the room with it. Tamlin was our typical Byronic hero—broody, tall, dark, and handsome. He was not a beast nor did Feyre truly transform him out of a beastly alter ego. Despite my better judgment, I did like Tamlin and found myself really cheering for him . . . Even though he was a two dimensional shell of a cliche character.
She could have been a complex, sinister evil queen. Maas has all the markings of a remarkable villain; yet, she failed to grasp onto that and run with it. She was so cold and malevolent, it was jarring.
The ending and how Maas has set up the next book with Rhys upsets me. Going into it would ruin the book. That being said, for me, it negated the premise of this book entirely.
All in all, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to other people. Maas had an intriguing idea to bring a classic story into the realm of the Fae. She did a wonderful job bringing some things to life and adding a new spin on the story.
(As a side note, I did find it interesting that this is a New Adult novel!)