Thursday, April 6, 2017

New Adult Annotation

A Court of Thorns and Roses 

Court of Thorns & Roses series

Bloomsbury USA Childrens (May 5, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1619634442
Available formats:  HardcoverPaperback


A modern day spin-off of The Beauty and The Beast...
The father's 3 ships were sunk, consigning him and his 3 daughters to poverity.  The youngest daughter is compelled to live with a monstrous beast, but discovers the humanity within, falls in love, and must find a way to release him from the horrible curse. 

Feyre (fay-ruh) is a cynical girl who spends her days hunting and striving to provide for her crippled father and her spoiled sisters and keep them all from starving to death.  While hunting in the forest, she kills a wolf, though she suspects that he's actually a dangerous faerie in disguise.  The Treaty between humans and fae demands a life for a life, but the beastly faerie who shows up at her hovel offers a deal:  she can live out the rest of her life in Prythian (faerie land) rather than die.  Feyre has no hope of a future, she only wants to protect her family, so she agrees to go with the beast.  Once there, she finds that the beast and all his court are under a curse, and the entire country, including the human lands, are endangered by a mysterious High Fae woman.  Feyre has to navigate this strange and frightening world, and re-think her own prior perceptions of herself and others, to figure out what to do.  

New Adult Appeal Characteristics in this Book

Story:  Novelist calls it action-packed.  It drags a little bit in the middle as Feyre is settling into her new life in Tamlin's mansion and becoming attracted to him, but picks up again with lots of tension and action near the end.  There's a lot of romance in the story and some parts are pretty harlequin-esque and explicit. 

Pacing:  Moderate.  There's a fair amount going on in the story, and it keeps the pages turning fairly well, other than a little bit of slow down in the middle with dreamy, lush descriptions of the manor grounds and the fae.

Setting:  The story is set in a fantasy world split into human territory and fae territory.  The world-building is fair, but not extensive since the focus is on the romance between Feyre and Tamlin. The fun part of the setting is "Beauty and the Beast" framework which is the basis of the story.  There are frequent references which bring the original story to mind, adding to the sense of "otherness" that pervades the fantasy world.

Tone:  The tone is an interesting mashup of dark fairy tale and sexy romance, ending up with what Novelist calls "steamy". “We moved together, unending and wild and burning, and when I went over the edge the next time, he roared and went with me.” (quote) Definitely steamy! “I love you," I said, and stabbed him. (quote) Definitely dark!

Style:  The writing is complex and descriptive, and sometime poetic:  “I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world.” (quote) Many parts are reminiscent of a cheesy romance novel, but still vivid and lush and dreamy.

Characterization:  Feyre starts out like another Katniss:  angry, desperately poor, anxious to save her family, and unrealistically skilled at hunting.  She then morphs into a romantic artist.  Then, finally, she comes to some deep realizations, and comes together as a complex and interesting person.  She has the fortitude to do hard things and make hard choices with clear eyes.  Rhysand turns into a complex and mysterious character, but the rest stay within their narrow caricatures, but this works perfectly for the fairy tale.  

Appeal terms: fantasy, dark, sexy, adventurous, fairy tale retelling

Young Adult or New Adult?  That is the question...

It can sometimes be tricky to tell whether a book should be categorized as YA/teen or New Adult.  Common criteria according to New Adult Alley ( is:

  • protagonist is between 18 - 26 yrs old, has left home for the first time, and has his/her first serious relationship
  • more explicit sex scenes

In A Court of Thorns and Roses, Feyre is 19 yrs. old and must leave home to make a new life in a strange land.  She's had a casual boyfriend before, but now falls in love for the first time.  The book contains a number of references to casual sex, and includes some very hot, steamy episodes:  "...his kiss deepened as his fingers slid between my legs, coaxing and teasing. I ground against his hand, yielding completely to the writhing wildness that had roared alive inside me..." (quote).  
This is not the kind of writing that is normal in YA!  Whew!  

Other reviewers have said:

Though A Court of Thorns and Roses is a young adult novel, the book was written with a slightly older reader in mind (my note: this indicates readers older than teens) compared to Maas's Throne of Glass series. "When I write, I usually just let the story take me where it needs to go," she says. "In this case that was into a dark, sensual, often violent world, with characters that were a direct product of it."    (Valerie Tejeda, 12/9/2014, )

A Court of Thorns and Roses is not a YA novel. This New Adult fantasy is passionate, violent, sexy and daring with brief love scenes that, while compelling and tastefully constructed for mature audiences, contain sexual content that should be considered inappropriate for younger readers.                                                                                       (Serena Chase, 4/14/2015

Personal Note

I started this book prepared to dislike it, and in fact, didn't care for it much until near the end.  Then it got interesting....  Feyre turned into a character with depth and substance, facing hard choices and being willing to admit her mistaken ideas about family, love, and her own nature.

Parts of the earlier story that I liked were the parallels to the original Beauty and the Beast story (not the Disney one) and the descriptive writing.  What I disliked were the cheesy romance-novel bits; "He flexed his bandaged hand, studying the white bindings, stark and clean against his sun-kissed skin."   "But he shook his head, and his golden hair caught and held the morning light as if it were spun from the sun itself."  Barf.

Once Feyre and Tamlin got together, a little over midway, the story became less romance and more fantasy/adventure, which is much more my thing.  There is nice little plot twist near the end, nothing terribly dramatic, but enough to perk things up a little and be entertaining.  In the end...  I liked it, and yes, I would recommend it to a friend looking for a light fantasy/sexy


  Coloring book available here.

Official Fan-made Book Trailer



  1. Great annotation, it's very detailed! Sarah J. Maas has been on my to-read list for a very long time. I didn't realize she had a Beauty and the Beast re-telling, I'll have to try this one out. Sorry you didn't fully enjoy it...have you read her other series Throne of Glass?

  2. Great post, Dierdre. I appreciated all of the extras. And I really enjoyed your personal notes. (I laughed out loud at descriptive elements and your "barf" reaction.

    The book I read was much steamier than I expected, too. Caught me off guard and made me a bit uncomfortable - which made me feel even more uncomfortable! Like you, I enjoyed my book's adventure part but could have done without the romance. (Though mine had less romance than yours. Thank goodness!)

  3. Hey Y'all,
    A fun little update: A teen patron asked me yesterday if we have the coloring book for another title, and we got to talking about the new "thing" of making coloring books that go with YA/NA books. She was really interested to hear about this one! I think I might purchase some and put them out in the Teen Area with some colored pencils. Fun...

  4. I think this book sounds interesting. I liked how you mentioned your personal opinion on it as well. I am more into the fantasy as well but 'steamy' does have a place in books also. I probably will just quickly read over those parts but someone else might actually enjoy those parts more than the fantasy. I am so glad we have choices, don't you? Anyway, thank you for detailed and thorough annotation. It is now on my list of books that I want to read once I finish this semester!

  5. Oh, I wasn't aware of coloring books being offered with YA books. Coloring books are suppose to relax you and decrease stress related issues so I think it is great to include them with this population but it certainly wouldn't hurt to have some for the adults as well. Is it free, the coloring book that is when you purchase the book or do you have pay for both of them? It is more likely the latter than the former but I am hoping that at least the publishers are giving deals if they are published together.

    1. Generally you have to pay for them. I agree, though, that it would great to have them bundled. I've seen some really detailed ones for Game of Thrones. Check 'em out! :)

  6. Fantastic annotation! I too enjoyed all your extras. Great job breaking down and describing why it belonged in NA instead of YA, great sources and quotes to back you up! Full points!