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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "A Court of Thorns and Roses” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Feyre is a 19-year-old hunter who is desperate to find food for her family. With their meat and bread now gone, Feyre, her father and two older sisters face starvation. Deep in the woods she sees a deer, but before she can kill it, an enormous wolf attacks the deer. Based on the wolf’s size, Feyre suspects it is a Fae in animal form. Fueled by her hatred of the Fae, she shoots and kills the wolf with an ash arrow and takes the deer home.

Soon, another Fae in wolf form comes to Feyre’s house and demands payment, a life for a life, as required by the treaty between human and Fae realms. Rather than be killed, Feyre decides to go with the wolf to Prythian, the Fae kingdom in the north and on the other side of a wall between their realms.

The shape-shifting Fae is called Tamlin, High Lord of Spring Court, who lives in a large estate in perpetual spring. Feyre expects to be imprisoned for murder, but to her surprise, she is allowed to live freely on the estate. When Tamlin shape-shifts back to Fae, he wears a mask, as do all the servants and Tamlin’s best friend, Lucien. Feyre is told that the masks are magically attached and cannot be removed due to a magical blight in Prythian.

Feyre worries that the blight will spread past the wall and eventually affect her family in the human realm. As the person who provided food for her family, she also worries they will starve without her, but Tamlin assures her that he has provided for them.

Like most humans, Feyre resents the Fae. Tamlin tries to befriend her by teaching her to read and giving her space and supplies to paint, but she does not like or trust him. It becomes clear that both Tamlin and Lucien are keeping information about the blight from her. When Feyre learns of a Suriel, a faerie who is compelled to tell the truth once captured, she captures it. She learns that a powerful king rules the neighboring faerie kingdom of Hybern. He resents the peace treaty other ruling High Fae made with humans.

One hundred years ago, the king dispatched his own Fae to Prythian to infiltrate the seven High Courts, but 50 years ago, one of his commanders disobeyed him. Before the Suriel can tell Feyre more, other faerie creatures attack her, and she only survives when Tamlin appears to help her fight. Afterward, Feyre and Tamlin are more trusting of each other.

As time goes on at the estate, strange and brutal warnings are left for Tamlin and Lucien to find. A faerie from the Summer Court is found near death with his wings ripped off by a mysterious woman that no one will tell Feyre about. Feyre overhears conversations about the woman and later learns she is Amarantha, one of the Hybern king’s commanders and now the self-proclaimed queen of Prythian.

At the summer solstice celebration, Feyre gets drunk on faerie wine and dances while Tamlin plays the fiddle. They sneak off to a field where they kiss. The next day, Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court and Amarantha’s lover, arrives unexpectedly at the estate and discovers Feyre.

Tamlin begs Rhysand not to tell Amarantha about Feyre. Rhysand toys with them and then promises nothing. Rhysand demands Feyre’s identity. Fearing for her family’s safety, she lies and says the first name that pops into her head: Clare Beddor, a girl from her village. Rhysand tells them that Amarantha will enjoy breaking Feyre while Tamlin watches helplessly.

After Rhysand leaves, Tamlin decides to send Feyre back to her family in the human realm. On their last night together, they have sex. Tamlin tells Feyre that he loves her. While she feels the same way, Feyre doesn’t tell him.

When Feyre returns to the human realm, her family is no longer living in poverty but in a fine house with servants. Everything has been provided for them, just as Tamlin promised. Additionally, they have been glamoured with magic to believe that Feyre has been living with an aunt all this time. As Feyre settles back into life at home, she learns that Clare Beddor’s home has been burned to the ground. Feyre is fearful that the Fae are responsible and that things must be terribly wrong in the Spring Court, so she decides to go back.

She returns to Prythian to find Tamlin’s estate almost deserted and in shambles. Only Alis, a servant, remains as everyone else has been taken to Amarantha’s court under a sacred mountain in Prythian. Alis tells Feyre that Amarantha, Hybern’s most lethal general, fought in the mortal war with her sister Clythia. Clythia fell in love with a human warrior, Jurian, who eventually betrayed Clythia, and Amarantha has despised humans ever since.

Amarantha came to Prythian as an emissary from Hybern 100 years ago, but she was plotting to take Prythian for her own and eventually attack the human realm. Forty-nine years ago, she struck, tricking and using magic to steal power from the seven High Lords of Prythian. The Fae have been her slaves ever since.

A curse was put on Tamlin and the entire Spring Court after he refused to become Amarantha’s lover and consort. To break the curse, Tamlin was to find a human girl who killed a Fae out of hatred then make her fall in love with him. The magic prevented anyone from telling Feyre, and since she didn’t tell Tamlin that she loved him in time, Amarantha was free to take him and his entire court. The masks were a part of the curse, and the blight is really Amarantha’s magic taking over Prythian. Feyre decides to defeat Amarantha or die trying. She knows that Tamlin’s life, and the survival of the Spring Court, Prythian and the human realm, are at stake.

Feyre convinces Alis to show her the way to Amarantha’s court Under the Mountain. On her way there, Feyre is caught and taken before the queen. Tamlin pretends to not know Feyre so that Amarantha won’t know how much he cares. Feyre is forced to make a deal with the queen. If she completes three tasks in one a month, Tamlin and all the Fae Courts will be freed. However, she can immediately break the curse and free everyone if she solves a riddle, but if she guesses wrong, she will be tortured and killed. Feyre decides to do the tasks rather than take the chance with an incorrect guess.

Feyre completes the first task, hunting a giant, carnivorous worm through an underground maze, but she is badly wounded. Feyre is near death when Rhysand comes to her cell and heals her, but not before making a bargain. If she survives the challenges, she must spend a week of every month with him for the rest of her life. He marks her arm and hand with an elaborate tattoo to seal their deal. At night, Rhysand forces Feyre to wear revealing clothing, attend Amarantha’s parties as his guest and flaunts her in front of Tamlin. Tamlin, who is never allowed to see Feyre outside of the challenges, feigns indifference.

Her second task is to solve a riddle inscribed on a wall, but since Feyre can’t read, she doesn’t know which answer to choose. Rhysand helps her choose the correct answer by communication through the eye tattooed on her palm. They now share a bond through the tattoo. Later when they are alone in her cell, Rhysand admits to her that he wants to be free of Amarantha and hopes that Feyre wins.

For the third task, Amarantha asks Feyre to kill three innocent Fae. At first, Feyre is aghast at the thought of committing cold-blooded murder, but she realizes she must complete the task to save Tamlin, Prythian and the human realm. She tells herself that it’s three lives to save so many others.

The Fae are brought out with their heads covered, and she kills the first two. When the third turns out to be Tamlin, she doesn’t know what to do. She remembers all the times that Tamlin allowed her to eavesdrop on his conversations. She guesses correctly that he has a heart of stone and shoves the dagger in his chest. She is right, and as Tamlin is slowly recovering, Amarantha is livid.

Amarantha points out that she never said when she would release Tamlin from the curse, just that she would. Using magic, Amarantha starts breaking Feyre’s bones, demanding that she confesses that she never loved Tamlin. As she is dying, Feyre finally guesses the answer to the riddle; as specified in the bargain, all of Spring Court is released immediately.

Tamlin, with all his power back, attacks and kills Amarantha, but not before she breaks Feyre’s neck. Feyre is dead. Feyre’s soul watches everything that is happening through the bond with Rhysand. As Tamlin cradles her, the High Lords of all the Fae courts offer up magic and restore Feyre’s life, making her an immortal High Fae. The mountain is destroyed, but Feyre feels like there is a pit in her soul for the innocent Fae she killed. She is still bonded to Rhysand and will have to spend time in the Night Court as promised, but for now, she, Tamlin, and the rest of Spring Court go home.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

Feyre says mortals no longer keep gods to worship. Since gaining their freedom from slavery to the Fae, humans don’t celebrate religious holidays. A cult made up of young human men and women, Children of the Blessed, worship the High Fae. A cult member tells a group that a girl from Children of the Blessed went to the Prythian border as an offering to the High Fae.

As a summer faerie dies, Tamlin says a prayer asking the cauldron to save him and for the faerie to pass the gates and smell the immortal land of milk and honey. Feyre thinks the prayer is older than the mortal realm. Fae believe that both fate and the cauldron determine the paths their lives take.

Authority Roles

Feyre tells Tamlin that she made a promise to her mother before she died that she would take care of her family, and she does so by hunting to keep food on the table and money in their pockets. Feyre, the youngest of three sisters, is solely responsible for her family’s income. Her family was once wealthy but has lost their fortune, and her father was badly beaten by creditors and has limited use of his leg. Feyre’s older sister is resentful toward their father for not being able to provide for them.

Tamlin’s father and older brothers once enslaved humans and helped the King of Hybern in the war. Rhysand’s father killed them. Tamlin tells Feyre that his father was a tyrant and that his mother loved him too much to say anything against him. He mourns his mother but not the rest of his family.

Lucien is the youngest son of the High Lord of Autumn court. When Lucien fell in love with a lowborn faerie, his father had her executed while his two eldest brothers held him down and made him watch.

Profanity/Violence

Profanity includes: s---, *b-tch, whore, h---, pr--k, gods-d--ned, and d--n. Name-calling includes stupid.

The violence, blood and gore depicted in the novel are graphic. Feyre kills Andras, a High Fae in wolf form. Even though she suspects that the wolf is really Fae, she shoots him with an arrow made out of ash, the only thing that can kill the Fae. She skins him for his pelt and leaves the carcass in the woods. When Tamlin gets enraged, he shape-shifts into an enormous lion/wolf-like creature and smashes things.

In Prythian, Feyre encounters many evil faerie creatures that would hunt her as prey and eat her. Faeries called naga attack Feyre. They tell her how they will kill her. Feyre survives by using her bow, arrows and a knife. Tamlin helps her by shape-shifting and using his paws to rip out the creatures’ neck and bowels. Afterward, both Feyre and Tamlin are covered in blood and gore.

Alis tells Feyre that Lucien lost his eye when Amarantha carved it out with her own fingernail and scarred his face. When Feyre goes Under the Mountain to save Tamlin, she sees the rotting, burned, broken corpse of Clare Beddor nailed to the wall of the throne room. Amarantha tortured and murdered Clare, believing she was Feyre. Amarantha keeps one of Jurian’s bones on a chain around her neck and one of his eyes in a ring she wears. She holds Jurian’s consciousness with her forever.

Under the Mountain, Feyre gets punched in the face, and several faerie creatures break her nose. The tasks Amarantha ask her to complete are especially brutal and gory. She hunts a giant worm in an underground labyrinth of mud and filth. She sets a trap, creating bone spikes out of other creatures the worm had killed, and the large creature impales itself. In the process, Feyre breaks her forearm; the bone protrudes from the skin. It’s days before Rhysand comes to her prison cell to heal her. The infection from the injury almost kills her. Initially, Feyre turns down Rhysand’s help. He grabs her broken arm and twists it, causing her excruciating pain.

Rhysand uses his power to shatter a Fae’s brain. The Fae is left dead in a puddle of his own waste. As a part of the last trial, Feyre stabs three innocent Fae in the heart, killing two of them. Amarantha uses magic to break her bones, and then then breaks her neck, killing her. After the spell is broken, Tamlin shape-shifts and uses a sword to impale Amarantha’s head to the wall.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Feyre and a boy from her village, Isaac, have been meeting in a barn to have sex for two years. Neither has romantic feelings for each other, but they have sex as a reprieve from the sadness and emptiness of their lives. Isaac drinks a contraceptive brew so Feyre won’t get pregnant.

Fire Night signals the official start of spring, and Tamlin, being head of the Spring Court, allows powerful magic to enter and take control of his mind and body. He finds a woman, and from their coupling, magic is released and spread to earth where it regenerates life for the year to come.

Female faeries line to up to be chosen, and after Tamlin chooses, other attendees are free to couple as well. Lucien tells Feyre that if she stays for the rite, Tamlin will claim her, and she won’t like it, as Fire Night is not a night for lovemaking. She would be forced to couple against her will.

Later that night, Feyre encounters Tamlin still filled with magic from the ritual. He tells her that he smelled her but couldn’t find her so the magic made him pick another woman who asked him not to be gentle with her. Tamlin tells Feyre how he would have had sex with her and bites her on the neck. She is very aroused and grinds her hips against his.

On the night of the summer solstice, Feyre gets drunk, dances with Tamlin, and they kiss. The next day at breakfast, they flirt with each other. Feyre fantasizes about Tamlin kissing her all over and taking her on the table. Rhysand takes a hold of Feyre’s mind and tells Tamlin all the sexual thoughts she has about him. The night before Feyre returns home, she and Tamlin have sex. The act, including oral sex, is described in detail.

While Feyre is Under the Mountain, Rhysand has his faeries cover her in body paint, and Rhysand forces her to wear a very skimpy, revealing dress to a party and drink faerie wine against her will. She passes out and wakes up in her cell the next day. She only knows she hasn’t been violated because the paint on her body is mostly undisturbed. Night after night, he has her dressed the same way and uses magic to force her to dance provocatively for him in front of everyone. She wakes up sick, humiliated and exhausted every morning and spends the days sleeping off the hangover.

The night before the last trial as Feyre is waiting to dance for Rhysand, she sees Tamlin, and he indicates that she should meet him in a dark room. The two kiss in a frenzy and rip at their clothes. They stop when Rhysand discovers them. Rhysand tells her that if she was so desperate for release, she should have come to him. Tamlin leaves, and Rhysand hears Amarantha approaching and starts kissing Feyre. Later, she realizes that he did it to explain why the paint all over her breasts and stomach was smudged. After Feyre is saved and transformed into High Fae, she and Tamlin have sex.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Parent Note: Feyre drinks faerie wine and feels free of bonds she didn’t know existed.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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