Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
I had mixed feelings about this book throughout, at times feeling hooked and enthralled, and, at others, more distant and perhaps just a little cynical. Ultimately, I wanted to applaud Sarah J. Maas as I absorbed the final pages. Applaud her for the world she had created, the detail of its inhabitants (and her wonderful inclusion of fairy folklore – a particular interest of mine) and the breath-taking action that occurs in places. It is no doubt beautifully written and the story is skilfully told, pulling you into the magic and terror of this fantasy world. Perhaps I am a little out of touch, but I’m surprised at how heated and detailed the romantic scenes are for a young adult audience, and wonder if it is best suited to the upper end of this age group (and, of course, we adults who enjoy YA fiction).
I think my cynicism may have been on account of the moments that hinted of other storylines where a young mortal human girl falls for a ravishing immortal beast. Must we females continue to be so weak in the hands of these men? However, on reflection, Feyre is, in fact, a highly self sufficient and powerful female character. As the story begins, she not only takes care of herself, but her family too, and this determination remains throughout. Plus any self doubt and uncertainty, that does emerge, is genuine and not overly whiny. Yes, this book does share similarities with other stories – but what book doesn’t entirely? I quite liked its affinity with the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale – although there are only hints of this likeness.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read, perhaps more so for the age range it’s aimed at. I can’t say I loved it, but I think I will stick with the series and give the second book a go soon.