This is the first book in a new series by Sarah J Maas, the author of the Throne of Glass series.
Feyre is the daughter of a merchant who has lost his money and social standing. Her father can no longer work after being brutally beaten by creditors and her elder sisters Nesta and Elain have neither the skills nor the inclination to seek employment.
Feyre feels responsible for her family; she promised her dying mother that she would take care of her father and sisters. She learns how to hunt, and supports the family by cooking or selling what she kills.
The house and woods where they live is close to the wall, the border between the mortal lands and the Faerie realm. There was a war between humans and the Fae 500 years ago, when an uneasy peace was declared. It was agreed in a treaty that humans would stick to their side and the Fae theirs. A human killing a Fae would be a breach of that treaty and could potentially spark another war.
One day when she is hunting a deer Feyre sees a Wolf about to attack the deer; the Wolf doesn’t act like a normal Wolf, suggesting it could be a shapeshifting faerie. Feyre is desperate for food and money, so she kills the Wolf before it can kill the deer and takes its pelt. Feyre tells herself that it couldn’t possibly have been a Faerie, but even if it was she is unable to feel upset about killing it as she hates all the Fae.
Later when she is eating dinner with her family two Fae in animal form burst into the cottage and demand retribution for the death of their comrade. Feyre accepts responsibility for killing the Wolf. The leader, Tamlin, tells Feyre that she must come and live in his court for the rest of her life as punishment.
Feyre unwillingly goes to live at the Spring Court, where it is eternally spring; Tamlin tells her that she is his guest, but she is used to roaming freely and supporting her family. The spring court is affected by a blight – something is stopping magic from working properly. This manifests in a number of ways, including all of the court having to wear masques that cannot be removed.
Feyre starts to sympathise with the faeries and see them as real people, but Tamlin and his court refuse to tell Feyre what the blight is or how it can be stopped.
This is essentially a fantastical retelling of Beauty and the Beast; it’s interesting, fast paced, full of magic, mystery and romance.
I have seen this described as a Young Adult novel, but it’s quite raunchy and explicit in some place, so I wouldn’t say it was suitable for younger teenagers.
If you like Trudi Canavan or the Throne of Glass series you’ll really enjoy this book.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.