First off, I don't know why I haven't picked up A Court of Thorns and Roses sooner, seeing as it's a Beauty and the Beast retelling set in the Faerie world. HELLO! That stuff's basically crack to me. And there is so much to recommend it as a retelling. Feyre's family for starters. The dynamic between the sisters which at first glance is almost Cinderella-esque in it's genericness, morphs into a complicated relationship as the story develops. So win.
In fact, the entire first third of the book is intriguing, moving along at a good clip with plenty of development. While out hunting, Feyre not only kills a deer for her starving family but also a wolf. As punishment, a beast from the lands of faerie comes and demands a life for a life. Feyre must decide whether to die right then or to leave her family to return with him to the lands of faerie. Smart girl chooses life but what really happens is Feyre is taken and installed in the 'beast's' castle, given everything she wants and the freedom to enjoy it. Wut? That doesn't sound like much of a punishment to me. Therein lies the rub, my friends. Once Feyre is taken to Tamlin's castle, baring a few high points, my interest began to drift.
For starters, while Tamlin does shift into a hideous monster on occasion, HE IS GORGEOUS and not at all remotely a beast. Okay, so he is under an enchantment that forces him to wear a mask but really? Couldn't it have been that he had to remain in beast form all the time because that is what makes the beauty and the beast story so epic-ally insurmountable? But that's a side rant and easily overlooked (I guess).
Then there is the fact that I have this one MAJOR issue with how Maas portrays her faeries -- and without spilling the secret -- all I can say is YOU CAN'T CHANGE SOMETHING LIKE THAT, MS. MAAS! SOME RULES EXIST FOR A REASON. Ahem. So, if you've read the book, you probably know what I mean (if not, ask me and I'll tell you directly). That particular plot twist just didn't work for me. At all.
Note that these drawbacks are nicely balanced by the knife-edge tension between Feyre and Tamlin which was thoroughly enjoyable :)
But then (I don't want to spoil all the fun) the last 1/3 of the book picks up and once again, I was on the edge of my seat. I know some readers had issues with the choices Feyre made to survive and complete her necessary tasks but for someone who loves descriptions about the cruel beauty of the traditional faerie world, I was fully invested. Also, there's Rysand who just stole the show, so there is that.
So a solid escapist read and you can bet I've already got the sequel queued up but it's definitely not going into my top retellings list either. But you know, mileage may vary.
series reading order:
~ A Court of Thorns and Roses
~ A Court of Mist and Fury