Retelling of the Tales
I read a book!
Ok, so no one is actually surprised by this statement as I have been reading a great deal of books lately. I just finished the latest novel by Sarah J Maas called A Court of Thorns and Roses. It is a very good retelling of several fairy tales.
Most obviously for me was the retelling of Beauty and the Beast – who could miss the obvious connection between Feyre and Belle? The story starts with Feyre hunting in the forest for her family, who have fallen on impossibly hard times. It is winter and the once prosperous merchant family (father and two sisters of dubious character) are near starving. Feyre is doing all she can to save her family and keep the promise she made to her dying mother. I think it was in the description of the family’s fall from wealth to the pathetic cottage that I linked immediately with Beauty and the Beast. Of course, the entrance of the Beast, raving and vengeful only a couple of chapters rather clinched that connection.
I should perhaps have picked up the elements of Tamlin sooner. After all, the ‘Beast’ in A Court of Thorns and Roses is called Tamlin. However, I am not quite as familiar with Tamlin’s story to have had an immediate reaction to the name. It was not until nearly the end I saw the influence: the High Queen who wants to keep Tamlin as her own consort and the trials Feyre must suffer in order to free her true love from the evil Fairy.
It was not until I was poking around on the internet I discovered the third influence that helped to shape A Court of Thorns and Roses. Woven into the novel are elements of East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Again, I am not as familiar with this classic tale. That is to say I have only read a few versions of the story, as I have only read a couple versions of Tamlin. However, the hunt for the ‘Beast’, who was taken from his castle, and the help that Feyre gains on her quest to save her true love have the flavour of East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
This is not to say that A Court of Thorns and Roses is simply a mish-mash of other fairy tales. It is an excellently woven story that combines elements and threads from three classic tales into one cohesive novel. However, because it is true to its inspiration (and rightly so), it is very predictable. Not all the details, those are original, but the over all feel of the story and the general idea of what is going to happen next is unsurprising.
That is my primary complaint. The characters themselves are strongly written. The secondary and tertiary characters bring much life to the story. The world is beautifully crafted. While I am not always fond of the Fey as a separate … creature, race, species? … they were handled well in this tale. The magic was generic, but the imagery was effectively constructed. The growth of the main character was simple and elegant in its arch. The narrative built and progressed as a good story should.
If this review seems a trifle lack-luster, then it is because the story is familiar – not in the details, but the over all plot. As most of the story followed Beauty and the Beast, which itself is well know, there is very little more to comment on. For those that like fairy tales, particularly those who love the reworking of classics, this is an amazing book. This is a book I recommend.