Worth It Wednesday: “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

77493_originalTitle: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads Description: When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Why it’s worth it: Alright, listen, I know you aren’t surprised to see this. My love of Sarah’s books is probably going full-on obsession at this point. However, the newest book in this series just came out yesterday, so I couldn’t NOT do it.

This is a pseudo-retelling of Beauty and the Beast plus faeries, so already this was–for me, at least–a rocky sell. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite childhood fairytale, but also one of the most problematic, and I’m not always great with faeries.

I can officially say that there is one version of the Beauty and the Beast that I don’t find extremely creepy. The whole kidnapping turned love thing is touchy, but Sarah makes it work. You really come to understand why Tamlin does what he does, and how much he wishes that he didn’t have to. Feyre is also not some helpless girl who can be swayed by a library. She is constantly searching and pressing buttons and trying to figure out what is going on around her. When they start falling in love, it’s in despite of themselves and what they think is their duty–but not in a bad way. They both get so focused on what they think is best for everybody else that they try to ignore the answer right in front of their faces.

My favorite twist on the tale is the ending, but of course I can’t say too much about that. Let me just say that this is no trifle where “true love’s kiss” can undo everything with a snap, and there is no last minute, too perfectly time save. There are mistakes made. There are battles fought. There are lives lost. It’s no Disney ending. That’s probably what makes this so worth it.

Read it if you’re looking for: fairytale retellings, faeries, magic, action, adventure, romance, strong female characters, strong supporting cast

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Worth It Wednesday: “Splintered” by A.G. Howard

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

SplinteredTitle: Splintered

Author: A.G. Howard

Goodreads Description: This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence.

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Why it’s worth it: This post is shamelessly inspired by me and Michaela’s recent video about our favorite fairy tale retellings, during the filming of which I was reminded about this book. Listen, I hate the original Alice in Wonderland–book, movie, whole shebang. Splintered came out in a time when there was a lot of Alice retellings being published, and I really wasn’t a fan. But, I was intrigued by this book’s blurb among all the others–and I was not disappointed.

I think my favorite thing is that Howard isn’t TRYING to re-do the original tale. This is a book that deals with the consequences of the original Alice’s trip into Wonderland on her descendants. Then, when Alyssa finally gets to Wonderland, it is amazing how many creative ways Howard came up with to say “Well, Carroll wrote this but actually it’s like THIS.” For example, the White Rabbit is really called the White Rabid and he’s part skeleton. SO COOL.

To me, this version of Wonderland is much more creepy and visceral and amazing than the original story, and really twists the world into something for the more grown up mind. Howard’s writing is also really strong–to the point where I fell in love with a story related to Alice in Wonderland, which I thought would never happen.

In my original ARC review, I rated this book 4 1/2 stars–the half was docked for the love triangle, as you can see in the blurb. All in all, though, I wouldn’t let the presence of a love triangle keep you from checking out this great book!

Read it if you’re looking for: Alice in Wonderland stories, fairy tale retellings, fairy tale retellings for an older audience, strong world building, a creepy and fantastical world, love triangles, plot twists