**A massive thank you to both Bloomsbury and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC copy of this book for the purposes of review**
First off: WOW. I mean, it’s hot outside already but DAMN. It just got hot, hot, HOT in here!
Okay, so, let’s get serious. I love Sarah J. Maas’ writing and storytelling ability — I fell in love with her THRONE OF GLASS series from chapter one and think that she has continued to hone her craft with each successive installment in that series. The same goes for this book; only this time Ms. Maas is flexing her more erotic muscles. Warning: yes, this is shelved under YA, but it’s definitely for an older YA audience due to some slightly-more-explicit sexual content. If you’re not into that, you’ve been warned.
The hardest part of trying to do a spin on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is that the original story feels dated and uncomfortable to us living in such a pro-feminism age. We can all shout until we’re blue in the face about the whole Stockholm Syndrome thing. The flip-side of the argument is that it’s a fairy tale: one is meant to suspend their disbelief. What Ms. Maas does is balance an assault/update upon some of the less-appealing aspects of the tale — our beauty isn’t originally all that interesting — while maintaining a few romantic elements that require a little suspension from the reader. She also ramps up the erotic undertones to be far more than just undertones, and brings to life a fairy court that is equal parts sexy, deadly, intricate, and downright cruel.
Worldbuilding is one of Ms. Maas’ fortes, as demonstrated with THRONE OF GLASS, and this book is no exception. The creation of the multiple fey courts, their societal and aristocratic/monarchical hierarchies, and even the intrigue amidst fey family members is perfectly balanced within the novel so that it never feels like a massive information dump/overload. Like Feyre, we are plunged violently into this world and discover it behind curtains, through glamours, and with a lot of trial and error.
There’s enough left open at the end of this novel for the sequel(s), and I’m more than ready to see what will happen to these characters. Also, yes, I do recommend reading this with a glass of wine and some dark chocolate — consider it perfect for helping to set the mood.