Ben Reviews: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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To put this reviews in context, I think you need to know that I went into this book with high hopes and low expectations. I was interested in A Court of Thorns and Roses based on everything I read about it, but its rapid rise in popularity on social media was a bit of a turn off for me. It came highly recommended from the sort of book-influencer that I don’t usually relate to. Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with book-influencers. They’re just often not for me.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that it kind of lived up to the hype, provided you’re willing to accept it for what it is. A Court of Thorns and Roses is a fantasy romance that draws a lot of inspiration from Beauty and the Beast, while also incorporating elements of what made paranormal YA romance so addicting. Add in the fact that it doesn’t shy away from the spicy bits and goes for a more adult tone, and you’ve got a pretty solid premise for “popcorn reading.”

I don’t think that A Court of Thorns and Roses is a literary masterpiece. There are flaws in the writing. The plot is predictable. The riddles and mysteries are very easy to solve. If you’ve been lead to expect a transformative experience from the hype surrounding the book, then you may be disappointed. Especially if you’ve read a lot of this genre before. With all of that said, though, the execution is far from bad. In fact, I would say in terms of writing, it is well above average for genre fiction.

I’m looking forward to seeing where the series goes from here.


Content and Ideas 4/5: A Court of Thorns and Roses borrows heavily from other stories: Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Sailor Moon just to name a few; however this doesn’t mean that it is entirely derivative. The way that Sarah J. Maas uses these stories to craft a familiar story with its own tone and twist is original and interesting. I’m being a little generous with this score, as I’m taking into consideration that this is the first book in a series. There are many ideas that are presented and not fully developed, but I have faith that Maas will continue to do so in subsequent books.

Organization 5/5: Probably my most controversial score for this book. We made fun of the radical tone shift in the novel’s third act on the podcast, but I actually really enjoyed it. I’m a fan of horror and dark stories. I like that Sarah J Maas was not afraid to go to that place and subvert my fairy tale expectations in a good way. I was never bored despite the length of this book. If I wanted to nitpick I could find a few organizational problems, but I don’t want to nitpick.

Use of Language 4/5: For a popular fantasy book, A Court of Thorns and Roses is impressively readable. A lot of fantasy these days can be too flowery, too edgy, or too wooden. This is likely a matter of taste and not everyone will agree, but I found the dialog to be a good mixture of modern English, and made-up slang.

Personal Preference 5/5: This is right up my alley. I’m a fantasy nerd, and I’m finding as the years go on that I have a soft spot for romance novels as well. The dark, violent turn in the story cemented it for me.

Recommendation Strength 5/5: Recommended to anyone who thinks they might like this sort of novel, with one small caveat. It comes with a content warning for violence, abuse, dubious consent/non-consent. There’s no overt rape in the story, but there is plenty that happens that would be considered a sex crime. If you would rather avoid that sort of thing, then steer clear. Otherwise, I think the hype is warranted.


I co-host the Words About Books podcast with my writing partner Nate.

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