First things first, I need to say a huge thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing UK for accepting my request to view this title on NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide.
"One of the High Fae could turn your bones to dust from a hundred yards away."
To start this review, I'm going to make an utterly shameful confession - I hadn't read a Sarah J. Maas book before this one. Yes, I know, 'Throne of Glass' is one of the most popular series from the past few years, and I'm really REALLY late on the bandwagon, but it's something I'm going to work on. However, because I'd seen such amazing reviews about Sarah J. Maas's writing, I decided to read this book anyway, and it was one of the best decisions of my life.
Feyre has been hunting for her family for years, following the loss of their fortune: the only one of the three sisters willing to get her hands dirty and do a hard day's work. When she kills a faerie glamoured as a wolf while out one day, she's dismayed when a golden beast bursts into their tiny cabin, claiming that she's broken the ancient Treaty between humans and Fae, and she can choose between death or returning with him to his home in the magical realm of Prythian. Not too surprisingly, Feyre chooses Prythian - otherwise, this would have been a pretty short story!
Understandably, Feyre is distraught by this chain of events, and very quickly starts plotting ways to get home, eager to return to her family. Shortly before the death of her mother, Feyre promised her that she would always look after her sisters, Elain and Nesta, so she feels untethered without that purpose in her life. As she realises escape is impossible, she starts to settle in at the manor house of the High Lord of the Spring Court, but as it becomes obvious that all is not well in Prythian, and Feyre needs to get to the bottom of it...
I don't know what it was about this book that made me fall in love with it so hard, but there was definitely something. Don't get me wrong, it was quite slow at times - it took me four days to get through half of the book, because the beginning just seemed to have too much stopping and starting and toing and froing, but when it eventually got a goal in mind it just went full steam ahead in a brilliant freefall that was absorbing and enthralling. I read the entire second half in a day, because it was just THAT DAMN GOOD.
One of the main things I definitely enjoyed was the fact that this is a fairy tale retelling (namely 'Beauty and the Beast') because instead of feeling overwhelmed by what is quite a high fantasy novel (for me) I could get into it quite easily and that helped with my appreciation of the novel. I did get a bit confused with some of the descriptions of the lands - there are seven High Lords of Prythian, but there's also a King of Hyburn mentioned, and a few other lands still seem to be completely inhabited by humans... I'm still a bit confused on bits of the situation, but I understood enough to muddle through and grasp quite a good knowledge of the novel.
As well as that, I loved the incorporation of the different faeries throughout. We experience the naga, the Suriel, the Bogge and the Attor in extremely well written scenes, with the faeries sending shivers down my spines because of how well Sarah described them to help with the visualisation. Don't get me wrong, I like to think of myself as someone with a fairly good imagination, but oftentimes I'll rely on an image of a monster that I already know well, and twist it to incorporate the new elements mentioned: that was not the case with this book, I was starting all of my mental images off from scratch and feeling much more fulfilled for it.
The main, and most amazing, aspect I loved about this novel were the characters. Every single one of them was so well rounded, so cared about and so brilliantly developed. Feyre was an absolute badass heroine - going from fending for herself and her family to learning how to care for an entire different species was a heart-warming and organic transformation that didn't seem forced in the slightest. Her relationship with Tamlin developed naturally (c'mon, there's no way this counts as a spoiler, it's a 'Beauty and the Beast' retelling, there's obviously romance!), meaning that instead of seeming like Stockholm Syndrome gone mad, this was a beautiful love story that really showed how the goodness of people's hearts is the most important thing about them.
Meanwhile, Lucien, Tamlin's emissary, had a great back story that really leaves room for him to be explored in the other two books in this trilogy, which is the same for the High Lord of the Night Court, Rhysand. Rhysand, or Rhys, is likely to crop up at multiple times throughout the next book, which I cannot wait for - there's a scene towards the end of the novel when he begins to bare his soul to Feyre, leaving you empathising for him in a way that seems utterly impossible just pages earlier, and I can't wait to learn more about this attractive man and his manipulated and calculating facade.
I will admit that when I picked this novel up I was convinced that it was a standalone novel, so I was beyond pleasantly surprised when I decided to have a Google and found out that it was the first part of a trilogy. I've fallen for all of these characters so completely and utterly, and - while it could work as a standalone novel, if you don't mind having some open-ended questions left unanswered - I was desperate for it to carry on and I did NOT want this book to end. Despite the fact that the big riddle that all of their lives hinged on was something I worked out within twenty seconds, I didn't even care - normally something like that would have really affected how much I cared about the book, but it just didn't really matter to me. There was so much going on that I couldn't feel disappointed when I came to the end of this book - it was just so cleverly written that there were so many things that I didn't see coming, so even the fact that I saw one of the biggest ones from a mile off was not a negative.
I would recommend this to literally anyone, but I will warn you that there are some rather sexy sexy bits, so if you're against that kind of thing in young adult literature there might be a couple scenes in the latter half of this novel that you'd prefer to skip. Other than that I just want all of you to go and read this book right now - it's going to be a massive hit, and I can't wait for the second book to hurry up and get released. I had been unsure on when I was going to read 'Throne of Glass', but now I've completely fallen in love with Sarah's writing style and characterisation, I'm going to get around to those novels as soon as I possibly can.