A Court of Thorns and Roses Book Summary - A Court of Thorns and Roses Book explained in key points
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A Court of Thorns and Roses summary

Sarah J. Maas

A Fantasy and Romance Novel Filled With Dangerous Faeries

4.6 (15 ratings)
23 mins

What is A Court of Thorns and Roses about?

A Court of Thorns and Roses (2020) follows the story of Feyre, who inadvertently kills a fairy and finds herself on the wrong side of the fairy/human border. She is given the choice to die in exchange for the life she took or go to live as a human prisoner in the land of Faerie. Her choice launches her on a journey of adventure and romance. This is the first book in the five-part A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

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    A Court of Thorns and Roses
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    Beauty Defined

    The story begins with a fateful hunt. Feyre is in the woods stalking a deer that could feed her family for weeks. Her father is laid up at home with a bad leg, while her two older sisters are still too proud to hunt after their father lost their family fortune. The whole family now depends on her for food.

    Feyre soon finds herself hunting far too close to the border wall between human lands and Prythian, home of the fairies. No one goes past that wall and comes back alive. But desperation for food keeps her moving closer.

    But as Feyre finally lines up a clean shot at the deer, a large wolf comes into view. There’s something odd about its eyes, and it crosses Feyre’s mind that the wolf might be a fairy in disguise. All the more reason to shoot it, she thinks. While she’s deciding where to aim her bow, the wolf makes the choice for her. It lunges at the deer, killing it – just as Feyre looses her own arrow, killing the wolf. With two dead animals before her, Feyre skins the wolf to sell its pelt and drags the deer back home. 

    The next night, as the family is preparing to settle in for the evening, the front door bursts open in a spray of snow and cold air. Before them stands a monstrous beast with long hair and horns, who demands to know who killed the wolf in the forest. Feyre has no choice but to confess. 

    The beast reveals that the wolf was in fact a fairy in disguise, and according to the treaty between humans and fairies, her crime is punishable by death. So, the beast gives her two options: die in exchange for the life she took, or live as a human prisoner in the Faerie lands.

    So I either die, or as good as die, she thinks. Her father begs her to go with the beast. It will be better than living in poverty or dying at the hands of a monster. Feyre agrees to go. Outside there is already a white horse waiting for her to ride. As she rides, she finds herself drifting to sleep. When she wakes up, she’s at the gates of a great manor.


    This story is a modern retelling of the classic French fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, with some liberties taken and some additions made. While there are several versions of Beauty and the Beast in existence, this one most closely follows Andrew Lang’s version from The Blue Fairy Book. In it, there are three sisters, and the father is a failed merchant whose ships were lost at sea.

    Feyre’s name means both “beauty” and “fairy.” The opening scenes in the book are heavy with foreshadowing, we learn quickly that the wall between humans and fairies is both a literal wall and a symbol of ignorance. It’s a source of safety and of fear. The war that ended in that wall has long passed, and current generations live in poverty and ignorance.

    A key part of Feyre’s character development is her instinct to kill the wolf even if it might be a fairy. In fact, she wants to kill it, especially if it’s a fairy. At this point, she’s unable to see the “humanity” in this very different race. But we don’t know whether her prejudice is rooted in fact or legend.

    At this point in the story, we can make some guesses about what’s to come, but there has already been a significant divergence from the original story. Instead of the father’s transgression resulting in Beauty’s imprisonment, Beauty herself commits the transgression – and has to pay the price.  

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    About the Author

    Sarah J. Maas is a New York Times and internationally best-selling author of three fantasy series. Over twelve million copies of her books have been sold in over thirty-seven languages. In addition to the five-part A Court of Thorns and Roses series, she has written the Throne of Glass series as well as the Crescent City series.

    Who should read A Court of Thorns and Roses?

    • Fairy-tale lovers
    • Fans of Beauty and the Beast
    • Readers who love a good romance

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