Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses Series
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publish Date: May 3rd, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.
Apparently I have an aversion to reading popular books immediately after they’re published, hence why I’m so late on the uptake with reading and reviewing the Court of Thorns and Roses series. Having read the first two and a half books in the series (thanks to Kathy over at The Novelty of Life for proposing a buddy read), my impression of the characters, plot, world building, and writing style are all equally as positive, if not better, than when I first started A Court of Thorns and Roses. And I’m now mentally kicking myself for my procrastination – why didn’t I delve into this series sooner?!?
Once again, I was enthralled the setting and the intricacy of the world building. Maas’ portrait of Prythian was descriptive enough that I could fully immerse myself in the story without feeling like I was being barraged with a slew of unnecessary, yawn-worthy details. Having had minimal exposure to the rest of Prythian outside of the Spring Court, it was intriguing to transition to a setting that was primarily located in the Night Court. Consequently, Maas was able to intertwine previous knowledge from A Court of Thorns and Roses with an entirely new landscape and a slightly different set of customs and expectations.
Based upon how her storyline was set up by the preceding installment, I was mildly worried about my perception of Feyre throughout this book. I’m the first person to admit that sappy, emotion-riddled reads are not my forte and constitute the majority of my one and two star reviews. Therefore, I wasn’t overly fond of Feyre’s emotional PTSD-esque scenes, as I was tempted to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. That isn’t to say that her emotions and paralyzing fears weren’t valid or representative of what someone might experience having undergone the horrors that she faced. I simply don’t have an appreciation for characters who allow themselves to be crippled by their emotions and refuse to take matters into their own hands, particularly when their safety and/or livelihood is called into question. Once Feyre’s moping, self-deprecating thoughts began to dissipate, however, I stopped detesting reading from her perspective. Feyre’s eventual recognition that she wasn’t a pawn and could assume control over her own life made for a much more pleasant reading experience. Consequently, I didn’t enjoy the moody, whiny, doormat Feyre that graced the first 15-20% of the book, but her character did redeem itself as the novel progressed, and I’m excited to see how her character development will progress during the remainder of the series.
Despite my initial expectations, I absolutely adored Rhysand in this installment. After finishing A Court of Thorns and Roses, I was apprehensive as to how anyone could fall in love with the seemingly cold, self-preservation seeking monster that Rhysand initially embodied. Despite these doubts, I rather quickly ate my words as his true character was slowly unveiled, breaking down many of the first impressions and assumptions that I had formed while he was masquerading as a short-sighted bastard who liked to ally himself with the winning side, whatever that might be. Without delving into any spoilers, I was awed by Maas’ creation of such a lifelike, three-dimensional character whose status readily changed from despised, mistrusted villain to beloved fan favorite. I particularly enjoyed how she crafted Rhys’ ability to put on a variety of complex and highly believable masks depending upon his audience. It was interesting to see such a stark dichotomy between Rhysand’s actions and persona while in the presence of his friends and family versus while in the public eye. It’s often difficult to effectively portray a character who leads such a pervasive double life, but Maas appears to have mastered it.
There were several characters that I hated, but in the best sense of the term. Maas intentionally added despicable twists to some of their backstories, which I readily devoured and allowed to color my perception of some of the characters. Tamlin in particular managed to fall at an alarming pace from one of my favorite characters to one of my most despised, and I applaud Maas for her realistic portrayal of his character progression, however detestable. An ability to create a cast of admirable protagonists as well as realistic villains truly speaks to a writer’s capabilities, and Maas certainly excelled in this.
While I enjoyed the romance, it’s certainly not for everyone. There were several graphic scenes (plural) that made me question the book’s marketability as a young adult work, so keep that in mind if you’re hesitant about more explicit writing. I admired Maas for her exclusion of a love triangle and/or quadrilateral, and she avoided many of the all too common YA tropes associated with relationships, namely insta-love. What could’ve readily become a painful, gouge-out-your-eyes romance avoided these stereotypical pitfalls and instead was beautifully written, adding further depth to the series and the characters. I particularly appreciated the characters’ smooth, gradual transition from friendship to a true relationship, as well as the introduction of my latest book boyfriend.
A Court of Mist and Fury further reaffirmed my love for Maas’ writing style. She incorporated an admirable balance between character development, romance, and a fast-paced, adventure laden plot. Often, one of these components is highlighted at the expense of the others, but that wasn’t the case in this installment. I was utterly shocked by the ending and am fairly certain that my jaw hit the floor at one point. Needless to say, I could get used to that sort of conclusion, and it would never get old.
Overall, I’m falling further head over heels for both Rhysand and Sarah J. Maas’ books. A Court of Mist and Fury was an emotionally-wrecking roller coaster which meshed well with the heart-pounding, action-driven plot and the humorous array of multi-faceted characters who weren’t always as they appeared. I’m thrilled that I’ve finally come to my senses and have started reading this series and am already more than halfway finished with A Court of Wings and Ruin. This series has quickly skyrocketed onto my list of all-time favorites, and it’s one of the few series that I’ve marathoned recently because I was truly captivated by both the plot and the characters. 10/10 would recommend!
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