✶ Summary ✶
A Court of Thorns and Roses follows nineteen year old Feyre. The book starts with her in the woods hunting to feed her family, two sisters, and their father. She kills a deer and a large wolf, a wolf she believes may be a faerie. She takes the wolf’s pelt and the deer home. She keeps the meat to feed her family but goes into town to sell the pelt. While in town, she runs into a group that worships the fae. She also runs into a missionary that warns her against the fae. Feyre doesn’t need these warnings though; she’s grown up on stories about the fae and hates them. Later that night, a beast shows up. He is fae and has come to punish Feyre for breaking the treaty and killing a faerie. She must either pay with her life or go live out her days in the faerie realm. So she goes home with him. He uses magic to control her, but once they get to his estate, he says she’s free to wander if she wants. But outside his estate is dangerous for a human. His name is Tamlin, and she later finds out he is high fae and is the lord of the court they are in, the Spring Court. He can shapeshift so now that they’re back at his home he’s back in human looking form. Feyre wants to find out information about the fae so she learns what she can from Tamlin and his right-hand man, Lucien. Over time, her hatred for them changes. She grows to love Tamlin. But over the months she’s there, she also learns about the danger they are facing. Other fae show up, dangerous fae. One, Rhysand, is very threatening to Feyre. When he asks her name, she lies and gives the name of a girl in her village. To protect Feyre, Tamlin sends her home. Once home, she sees how well he took care of her family. He put a glamour on them so they believed she was off taking care of a sick aunt. She arrived back with “her aunt’s inheritance” to see that her family had turned their poor life into a luxurious one like they once had. Tamlin made this happen while she was away. She’s home for a few days when she learns that a family in the village died in a house fire, everyone except one girl and she was missing. It was the girl whose name Feyre had given to Rhysand. She knows Tamlin must be in danger and makes the trek back to the Spring Court to find that the estate is empty and wrecked. Only a maid was left, the maid that assisted Feyre. The maid tells Feyre what really happened. That there was no treaty rule that caused Tamlin to bring her there. But a curse. Tamlin was cursed and given 49 years to find a human who hated fae, who killed one of his men, but would grow to love him. Tamlin sent the wolf out there on purpose. And it worked. Feyre grew to love him, but he sent her home before she told him. He sent her home days before his time was up. Now Tamlin and the rest of his court are trapped Under the Mountain with Amarantha, the high Queen of the land. A very evil woman with a heart full of hatred. Feyre goes there to try to save him. Amarantha tells her she’ll let Tamlin and his court go if she completes three tasks over the course of three months or answers her riddle. Feyre can’t figure out the riddle so she completes the tasks. Each one during a full moon. The tasks are meant to break her, kill her. But she lives. When not doing the tasks, she is kept in a dungeon cell. Until Rhysand comes and makes a deal with her to heal an injury. After that, she must escort him to celebrations each night. The final task is to kill three innocent faeries. Feyre kills the first two, but when the third is unmasked, it’s Tamlin. But Feyre figures out that Amarantha would never risk Tamlin dying; she wants him too bad. Feyre stabs Tamlin in the heart, and he lives. Amarantha is angry that Feyre won and tries to kill Feyre. She succeeds, and Tamlin kills Amarantha. All the high fae come together and bring Feyre back to life, now as a fae herself. Everyone is free from the curse and can go home.
✶ Toxicity ✶
This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. But darker and more toxic than the story we all know. Let’s break down what’s wrong with this story. Feyre and Tamlin’s love story begins with him kidnapping her. He tells her she either goes with him or dies. He magically ties her up on her horse and knocks her out for the two day journey. He keeps her in a room and with a maid. He lets her walk around the estate as she pleases. He gives her what she asks for. Little things like this make you think “oh he’s not that bad, she’s not actually a prisoner” but that doesn’t change the fact she was kidnapped and taken there. When Tamlin loses his temper, his claws come out. This shows he has anger issues. He’s ready to be violent at the drop of a hat. This happens a lot. At one point, Feyre is in the woods with fae that want to kill her. She holds her own pretty well, but then Tamlin comes to her rescue. So here is a strong, independent woman being rescued by a man. She’s in this predicament because he brought her into this world, but she is thankful he saved her in that moment. Luckily this heroine is an adult, though barely. Because Tamlin is about 500 years old. Still not quite right when you think about it, though. Tamlin alters her family’s memories. He puts a glamour on them so they forget she was violently kidnapped. They are not worried about her at all, and she thinks they’ve probably forgotten all about her. Near the halfway point, Feyre is warming up to Tamlin. He brought her the painting supplies she wanted and showed her a closed off gallery. But she has this moment of realization. That he erased her from her family, and she’s just letting it happen. She gets angry with him, but, of course, this doesn’t last long. She gets over it quickly. Next is a truly toxic event. There is a party of sorts. Fae from other courts will be attending, and Tamlin tells Feyre she can’t go. In fact, he demands she not even leave her room. She goes anyway. Soon Lucien catches her and literally picks her up and carries her back to her room. She then learns what the party’s purpose is. It’s a yearly event that high fae partake in to share their magic with the earth. Tamlin will allow magic to enter his body that will take over his mind and body. His only desire will be to find a maiden to couple with to spread the magic back into the earth. In short, Tamlin loses all control, finds a girl, and rapes her. Women line up to volunteer for this, but whoever he picks will be taken regardless. Lucien and Tamlin wanted Feyre to stay in her room because they knew Tamlin would want her if he could get his hands on her. She stays in her room the rest of the night but eventually goes to the kitchen to get food and runs into Tamlin in the hall. The ritual is over but he’s still not quite himself. He tells her about how he could smell her. That he wanted her and looked for her. He tells her how the night would have gone if it were she he picked. He says this in her ear, breath against her neck, with his claws embedded in the wall above her head. He then bites her neck and pushes his body against hers. He is talking about wanting to rape her here, and it’s meant to be a sexy scene. When he pulls away he tells her to never disobey him again, growls at her, and walks away. Some time passes, and they both have feelings for each other. But once Rhysand shows up, Tamlin tells Feyre she’s being sent home. And she doesn’t want to go. Now that she loves him, she doesn’t care about getting her freedom back or going back to her family. She just wants to stay with him. She begs him. But he sends her away. Stockholm syndrome much?
Anyway, let’s skip to the part where she goes back to save him and learns he’s been lying to her this whole time. Yes, he was cursed and couldn’t tell her even if he wanted to but that doesn’t change the fact that he took her there when there really wasn’t a rule or law about it. It was for his own selfish reasons. Now let’s talk about the deal she makes with Rhysand. During the first task, she is severely injured and is slowly dying of infection. Rhysand tells her he’ll heal her but she must spend two weeks a month with him. She tells him to go to hell. But as he’s leaving her cell, she calls him back in and makes a deal for one week a month. He heals her and leaves her arm tattooed as a mark of their deal. So in order to survive, Feyre is selling herself to Rhys. Later he tells her it won’t be for sexual favors as that’s who he is to the queen and would never do that to another person. But still, she sold herself to him. Regardless of in what way, that’s not a good thing. She begins being escorted to parties with him where she wears barely any clothes and is painted so Rhys knows if anyone touches her. He makes her drink faerie wine, which makes her wake up the next morning with no memory of the night before. Though her paint only has smudges on the waist and wrist so at least she knows where she’s being touched. Umm, so basically he roofies her every night? Feyre literally refers to herself as Rhys’ plaything. And people ship her with him after this book! After spending so much time in a cell and the stress of the tasks, she begins to enjoy her nights with Rhys. She likes drinking the faerie wine and losing herself. So this book also has substance abuse in it? Rhys does end up helping her with the tasks and is a big reason she survives, which is why people forgive this other behavior, I guess. Of course, all of these toxic things are in the context of this being a fantasy story. But teens aren’t capable of making that differentiation. Another argument could be that some of this is stuff that people like. Like kinks. Which, if both parties consent and enjoy acting in this way, go for it! There’s nothing wrong with it. But in this context, a lot of it is being done to Feyre in a kidnapping/hostage situation by someone who has power over her which changes the meaning, and also it’s a book for teens. Who again, don’t necessarily know what a healthy relationship looks like. And this is not the best thing for a teen to learn from.
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