2023 was the year of Sarah J Maas

Published on 17 February 2024 at 19:24

This year I embarked on the journey of a lifetime. I began reading the novels of the one and only Sarah J Maas. Is it an overstatement to say that her books changed my life? Maybe. But that is precisely how I feel. As a senior in college, majoring in English and Creative Writing, I was suffering from "book burnout". All of my homework assignments consisted of reading one novel after another. I could not remember the last time I read a book for myself and not because it was a class requirement. Considering that I choose my specific major due to my love of books, it was disheartening to realize I was losing touch with that love because reading was starting to feel like a chore rather than a hobby. BUT during my spring break, I decided that during the week off I was going to read one book for myself from my ever-growing TBR.


The A Court of Thorns and Roses series had been on my list for a while, and I was dying to see what all the excitement was about. One of my best friends lent me her copies of the books, and said it was absolutely necessary that they were the next thing I read. From the moment I picked up the first book I could not put it down, I was obsessed. I flew through that book, and the next book, and the next book. Needless to say, SJM reignited my love for reading and pulled me out of my slump. Throughout the rest of 2023 I finished not only the ACOTAR series but also the Throne of Glass series. So, what better way to start off my book blog than by dedicating a blog post to each of the SJM books and my thoughts and feelings about them. Without further ado welcome to my deep dive into the SJM universe. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses


This book felt like the first time I fell in love with reading. It felt like pretending to go to sleep when my parents would say goodnight and then climbing under the covers with a flashlight and reading until my eyes drooped shut. It felt like spending my free periods in the library, hiding between the shelves because I'd rather travel to another world than be a middle schooler. It felt like all the reasons I love books. SJM has a way with words that I think everyone needs to experience in their life, the way that she builds a world from scratch in front of your eyes, is truly a gift. I had not read a fantasy book in a long time, and I was nervous that it would be difficult for me to get back into the genre. ACOTAR is the perfect series for people who want to get into fantasy as a genre, or are finding their way back into this realm of fiction. Sarah roots her world building in real every day emotions and issues, that not only eases the of understanding of the world, it also helps readers connect with the characters. At times I forgot that I was reading about Fae and magic and mystical creatures, because of how human the emotions in the story were. 

Feyre, the example of what happens when a girl who has never felt real affection from a man gets shown a little kindness, then proceeds to lose herself in loving him. And for that I love her, for that brutal, timeless, mistake I love her, because in a world full of Fae and bogge and attor and magic, her faults remain so very human. This first book in the series is, at its core, the tragic tale of what happens when a girl accepts the first real love she ever receives. Tamlin had red flags from the start, but to a young girl who had only known hook ups in a barn, he was picture perfect. The rose-colored glasses were practically bolted to Feyre's head. Obviously, the mansion, endless supply of food, nice clothes, and painting supplies didn't help the delusion. But I cannot fault her for that cause you know we would all fall for it too.


Even though Feyre is the youngest sister, she radiates eldest daughter syndrome in this book. She feels this heavy burden to fulfill the promise she made to her mother to take care of and provide for her family. Even when she is in the Spring Court, she feels guilty for living a life of luxury while they are left behind, despite her leaving being the thing that saved them. Even the way that Feyre shifts herself to fit into the different roles expected of her, screams people pleasing, mirrorball, eldest daughter. The way the SJM wrote Feyre's character was so beautiful and heartbreaking, she was not brave just for the sake of being brave, she was brave because the life that she was forced to live before coming to the Fae realm required her to be so. I love the fact that SJM wrote Feyre as a female main character whose qualities were not chosen simply because they make a good heroine, everything about her has a reason, a backstory, and a purpose. 


Tamlin... are there even words? Yes, there are, and most of them are harsh. I want to keep my opinions about him reserved to this book but that is difficult, knowing the things he says and does in the rest of the series. I don't dislike him because he is evil or horrid, I mean compared to some of the things other characters have done, he has a mild case file. He is just plain awful; he is nice to the people that he likes when it benefits him. But when it comes to everyone else, he honestly could not care less. At the root of my disgust for Tamlin, is simply that fact that I think he is yucky. Is that a valid reason to have such strong vengeful feelings about a character? Yes, it is, and I will not be taking any further questions about it. As soon as he picked up that fiddle, I got the ick, and it was over for Tamlin in my mind. He reminds me of a frat bro, which is not in any way a compliment. He starts out seemingly sweet and caring, but then under the surface he has that boiling unchecked rage.

When that rage really mattered, under the mountain, where was it? Absolutely nowhere to be seen. He sat in silence, watching Feyre's mind and body be ruined over and over again. There was no need for him to be so cryptic about the riddle, I understand he was not allowed to explicitly say what was happening, but Tamlin, come on be resourceful. He could have told Feyre about his literal heart of stone, and then she wouldn't have had to go through the emotional turmoil of thinking she was stabbing her boyfriend and killing him. And when all was said and done, and Amarantha was defeated, then you decide to fall to the floor, hold her, and sob? No buddy, the moment is passed and now you just look pathetic. But I will say he did give her comfort and a life in the lap of luxury, even if Feyre eventually realizes that is not the life she is meant for. He gave her... a love that wasn't meant for her, he doted on her like a baby deer, and she became that baby deer to please him, when she is truly the huntress. 


Rhys. I- yet again, I will reiterate... are there even words. Yes, and this time they are nothing but praise. From the moment he stepped onto the scene, I knew he was the one for me and not Mr. Talon Toes. I will always pick the morally gray bad boy, that is just simply who I am at this point. Now, this is a dichotomy I have tried to wrap my head around and still cannot really put it into words. In all actuality Rhys is more so the typical picture of dark and evil, than Tamlin is. He has killed and tortured and battled his way through his long existence. BUT he has done so to protect the things that matter to him, his friends, his court, and his people. While Tamlin, he did all those things less than Rhys, but he did them in the name of protecting himself, and only himself. So, all that to say I will be excusing Rhys' seemingly dark actions, because he has a good heart. Um, and he is hotter, so that helps. Rhys being the only person to bet on Feyre solidified it for me, he risked it all for her over and over again. His sacrifice to live bound to Amarantha, knowing what people called him, for 50 years, continually makes me heart ache. At this point I cannot say much more regarding Rhys, because I want to keep this post singularly about the first book. So, all I am going to say is... the girls that get it get. 


This book felt like two books in one, before Tamlin sent Feyre back home and after. The whole scenario under the mountain had me on the edge of my seat, it felt so reminiscent of YA dystopian novels where the heroine had to complete tasks to save the world. I had a picture in my mind of how I thought the book was going to end and miss girl SJM completely surprised me. Even after reading the rest of the series, Feyre's time under the mountain remains some of my favorite moments. The last 200 pages of this novel are a whirlwind and read exactly like an action movie, and truly prepared me for what the rest of the series was going to feel like. I could not get enough of it, and I found myself once again reading under the covers with a flashlight, to find out what happened under the mountain.

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