There is boring characters, a vague feeling of sexual violence-but the second half is deliciously nasty and clever and the imagery throughout is stunning!
The plot; Human girl accidentally kills a fairy and as punishment is made to live in the beautiful Spring Court with a beautiful High Fae Lord…what a punishment.
The first half seemed completely not plausible, her “punishment” and the way she is accepted into the fairy world is rushed and feels off-kilter with the wrathful first meeting between main character Freryee ,or however you pronounce her name, and love interest Tamlin.
Main character Freyrealls (idk) is a poor put-upon gal, and her self-pity chokes me, she didn’t need to give a narrative on her problems because we see them. I feel sorry for her when we meet her selfish and nasty sisters and her lame (no pun intended) dad who serves no purpose, so her inner monologue comes across as bitter and as far as the plot goes, useless. FYI the mercenary she meets in the town for half a page seems more interesting than Feyre and Tamlin do combined in the entire book.
Speaking of, lover boy is handsome, but wears a mask and turns into a beast when he wants to, therein lies the whole point of a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast being shattered into pieces. The explanation of why it would be difficult for Freye to fall in love with Tamlin is, while clever, delivered in a monologue (bad exposition here) and does not restore any of the core feelings that makes Beauty and the Beast such a beautiful story. the lack of superficial and shallow values and the challenges of his bad temper, though Tamlin isn’t perfect-I’ll get to that.
Feyre is pretty damn boring, though I can’t help but sympathise with her at the beginning due to her truly shitty life and desperation to protect her family. Also, the way she views the world is beautiful. BTW she is not a virgin yet the way her encounters are described with Tamlin make me feel like she was a closeted nun, she literally swoons and goes weak at the knees and while some find this romantic I find it unrealistic and quite frankly stupid, I mean for god’s sake he says her name and she finds it difficult to breathe, this kills any sexual tension, though the sex scenes are quite sweet is a bit try-hard (ha-ha)
It is a beautiful book however, set in the perfect Spring Court and described by artistically-minded Feyre there are parts where I can practically smell daffodils and bluebells and feel grass beneath my hands. Lucien, snarky side-kick is also an asset, he’s sometimes nasty sometimes hilarious and sensitive (he throws up when he sees a mangled fairy.) His back story is also really heart-breaking and interesting, despite the shameless fridging of his former love, a technique used all too often by Maas. (Fridging=using a woman’s death/pain to cause someone-usually a male-angst and further their character development for those who didn’t know.) Also, the second half of the book was amazing, we see grit and gore and nastiness. The evil queen has a sad and interesting back-story which reveals Tamlin to be a bit of an asshole and she is genuinely creepy and just..well evil. I also love how we see Feyre become resourceful, tough and single-minded in rescuing Tamlin (nice change from him holding her “captive”) She deals with emotionally and physically damaging things in a realistic yet strong way and she becomes not boring and instead, pretty damn badass. though she does lapse back into annoying self-pity again, becoming listless at points which, while understandable-is really irritating. I liked the links with the Ballad of Tamlin, I thought the name was just picked out of mythology randomly but I liked how at the end it became more a retelling of Tamlin than Beauty and the Beast, which to be honest would have made for a better story.
I didn’t like parts of how Tamlin was portrayed, there’s a bit wild and then there’s borderline crazy, did anyone cringe slightly at his rough encounter with Feyre after the Fire Night festival when he essentially told her to lock herself in her room or he would lose self-control and rape her?-not chill- which btw, the Fire Festival felt a little awkward anyway as it just seemed to be pimping out Tamlin more than he needed since up until that point Feyre had me convinced he was the most desirable man to have ever lived…even if he was boring and we never see the scary- High fay powers that are alluded to and Feyre seems almost constantly afraid of Tamlin or awed, both not very healthy. The book dithered the line between soft erotica and YA at some points and that just made the steamy-and kinda rushed- scenes seem out of place. Also, in the second half Feyre is drugged, painted and dressed in sexy clothing by a creepy mind-rape guy who she makes a deal with to spend a week out of every month with so that he fixes her messed up arm and saves her life. Also, Feyre was totally kicking butt but the second she makes the deal she relies on him and he saves her during one of her tasks. (Serious hunger Games shit kicks off at one point) Is that okay? No! Also, the bargain they made is literally branded on to her, along with a creepy eye that Mr Mind Rape can use to see her and can hear her thoughts…yeah. When we get an explanation for why Mr Creep does this, it’s flimsy and the whole dynamic feels unnecessary and objectifying in a way that I genuinely found uncomfortable to read, I was getting quite angry reading it and I’m not a feminazi that tries to find demeaning messages about women everywhere, but it was there-in black and white and I.DID.NOT.LIKE.IT.It was definitely a far cry from Aelin who was hardly ever unnecessarily objectified despite being gorgeous, though to be fair she would probably gut anyone that tried.
I do have high hopes for the next book, something (spoilers) happens to Feyre that makes me think she will become an equal and be able to hold her own next to Tamlin and creepy mind-rape man (PLEASE NO LOVE TRIANGLE NO)
It was an engaging book, I just hold Ms Maas to the standard of her beautiful Sardothien work, if this book was by anyone else I would be raving about it everywhere.
Finally, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CAN I PLEASE HAVE SOME GAY CHARACTERS- NOT TOKEN ONES THRONE IN LIKE IN HEIR OF FIRE!
BTW-It’s set in the same universe as Throne of Glass, Maas said you could open a portal between their worlds hence the similarities.
In summary- read it but Throne of Glass series is much better.