Released: May 5th 2015
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price.
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever. (from Goodreads)
So the thing that really got me wanting to read ACoTaR was that I found out as well as being a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it was partially (and very loosely) inspired by East of the Sun and West of the Moon. I was in a play of EotSaWotM way back in my GCSE days (I was a minor character. I'm not so good at acting :P) and I was so excited to see a novel taking inspiration from it! There have been a lot of retellings recently but I hadn't seen anything associated with EotSaWotM before so this just made me really happy. Anyway, on to the actual review, erm yes this book was very good. Feyre, I really liked. I had no idea how she managed to put up with life for so long being the only one actually DOING anything for her family as well as having to deal with her sisters being horrible and inconsiderate and her father just ignoring everything. I understand they had all been through hard times but Feyre seemed to be dealing with the worst of it. Then she was taken away to live in the Fae world and everything changed. She was living a lavish luxury life, and she didn't really know why. No-one asked anything of her. No-one even spoke to her much to start with. She was just left to wonder around the grounds. Tamlin, who initially seemed furious at her for killing another faerie, just seemed to accept her presence with no trouble. She was confused. Understandably so. But then as she got to know Tamlin, and Lucien who was always hanging around (I adored Lucien, more on him later), she started to think differently about faeries. Maybe they weren't so bad. Maybe they weren't all murderers like she thought. It was really interesting to see her opinion slowly change - and it was slowly, which I really loved. It took her a long time to trust Tamlin. She knew he was hiding things and she wanted to know whether she could trust him despite that.
Tamlin was not what I was expecting. I liked him, but he was not my favourite of Sarah's male characters (that award goes to Rowan). I had a few issues with him and his secretiveness (I know he was literally incapable of talking about his main secret but there were other things he could have been honest about) but I did like him overall. I guess I could understand his hesitance since he was cursed and had a mask permanently stuck to his face. And I liked the way his relationship with Feyre took a while to develop. There was a good romantic buildup - definitely not insta-love, which I greatly appreciated. He and Feyre were also very similar in many ways. They both basically lived for other people, and had responsibilities they couldn't ignore. They both found it hard to trust people and took a while to open up to each other. Tamlin was also very generous and kind in the sense that he just did stuff for others without really thinking about it, like it was just what anyone would do. And judging by all the steamy scenes, I'm guessing he was one attractive guy (the parts of him that weren't blocked by a mask, anyway).
Lucien was Tamlin's closest friend and he was hilarious. His comments made me laugh so much and he definitely livened things up. I also especially loved the way that he would refuse to offer Feyre any help but then ended up helping her anyway. He really did not like Feyre at first but she grew on him even though he didn't want to admit it. You could tell by the end that he had genuine concern for her. He was also very loyal to Tamlin and just generally an appealing character.
Plot-wise - weellll. A lot of interesting this happened in this book, but one of my favourite parts was the trials that Feyre went through, set by Amaranth, the evil Queen of the Night Court (who was honestly one of the oddest evil villains I've come across). The first half of this book was quite quiet, quite calm. Not too many big/shocking things happened (though I did enjoy reading about the lengths Feyre was willing to go to get some answers). It was mostly about developing the relationships between the characters, and I really enjoyed that. The second half though, wow. The pace doubled. The trials? They were incredibly difficult and unfair. They were horrendous at times, and Feyre had to employ some very clever tactics in order to survive (I was impressed). But she suffered so much. She was tortured and then not healed after sustaining grievous injuries during the trials and ugh! It was so intense - I loved it. Feyre wouldn't give in. She had to resort to doing things she didn't want to do but she didn't give up. Another thing I loved about this book was the way a lot of things surprised me. I had guessed most of the secrets Tamlin was keeping but the ending was unexpected (how will that play out, I wonder, especially for Feyre?). And characters-wise, people I thought I'd never like - like Nesta, one of Feyre's sisters - really grew on me. I was also so intrigued by Rhysand (though I can't say actually liked him) because he was just so clearly up to something and I wanted to know what he was planning. The only problems I really had with this book, besides certain things with Tamlin, were the lack of worldbuilding and the straying from mythology which just made some stuff too convenient.
Overall, I really enjoyed ACoTaR and am very excited to continue the series, especially after the ending. Recommended.