NOTE: If you haven’t read A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first book in this series by Sarah J Maas, I would recommend NOT reading this review until you have done so, as it definitely contains some spoilers!
“The issue isn’t whether he loved you, it’s how much. Too much. Love can be poison” – Rhysand (Sarah J Maas, A Court of Mist and Fury)
After A Court of Thorns and Roses, I really didn’t think that Sarah J Maas could produce something that would outdo the intrigue and draw of the first book in this series. I was utterly wrong. I read A Court of Mist and Fury in less than 2 days (and I am now dealing with some serious disappointment at how long I’ll be waiting for Book 3), and I loved every page, no every sentence, of this book. Maas brought the same sexy, dark world back to life in this second installment, which was expected, but she also infused this book with some hard hitting topics, which wasn’t expected.
A Court of Mist and Fury picks up approximately 3 months after the epic conclusion of A Court of Thorns and Roses, with Feyre adjusting (badly) to her new life as a High Fae. Actually, more accurately, she’s adjusting (badly) to being with Tamlin, who in light of the horrors they encountered Under the Mountain, has become an over-bearing, brooding and somewhat frightful High Lord, who has essentially confined Feyre to the house. With their wedding imminent, Feyre is drowning under the idea of being irrevocably tied to Tamlin as she struggles to come to terms with the choices she made Under the Mountain. It’s only when Rhysand shows up to make good on his bargain that it becomes clear that Feyre is literally wasting away. Following a dramatic fall out at the Spring Court, Feyre is faced with a decision, and the implications leaving Tamlin will have for both herself, and her newfound friends. Her decision leaves Feyre at Rhysand’s side, navigating both the Night Court and her newfound Fae abilities and they race against time and unknown foes to combat the rising threat that is Hybern. The plot culminates in an entirely unexpected (or maybe I should have expected it but I was too drawn into the plot) turn in events, that will push Feyre, her friends and her family to heartbreak, hatred and war. Once again, Maas has crafted an epic conclusion to a novel riddled with twists and turns that will leave the reader stunned and wanting more.
NOTE: From here on in, I can’t promise that this review will be spoiler free, as there are some things that need to be discussed that are definitely spoilers! )
So, in case I didn’t make it clear, I LOVED this book. It was everything I didn’t know I wanted from this sequel, and more. In particular, I wanted more of Rhysand, because his character hinted at much more depth than was explored in A Court of Thorns and Roses, and what Maas gave us was absolute perfection. Don’t get me wrong, I was totally all about Tamlin and Feyre in A Court of Thorns and Roses, bu even the most hard-core fan of their relationship would be hardpressed to say that Feyre should have stayed with him after that incident (we’ll get there in a bit). No, after everything that happened Under the Mountain, I feel that the progression of the relationships in A Court of Mist and Fury was exactly what it needed to be. A few specifics about the book:
- Feyre undergoes some major character development in A Court of Mist and Fury, which should be expected after the events that unfolded at the end of A Court of Thorns and Roses. Maas development of new (notably Rhysand’s Inner Circle) and old (primarily Tamlin, Lucien and Rhysand) charaters was also flawless once again. She’s got a real talent for making well-rounded, real characters who feel believable, and who you really care about. How else could she make you go from despising Rhysand to feeling his broken heart as if it was your own?
- MORE SEX. Like, lots of it. Very descriptive, steamy sex scenes riddle the pages of this book, basically from the first chapter onwards. Maas has never been one to shy away from sex, or violence for that matter (of which there plenty), but she really outdid herself in A Court of Mist and Fury. *SPOILER* It’s not even just the actual sex- the sexual tension between Feyre and Rhysand is enough to make most people blush (again, for this reason, I’d recommend limiting A Court of Mist and Fury to an older audience!).
Now, for the nitty-gritty of why I loved this book so much. For those of you who haven’t read the book yet, this is your cue to stop reading this, go read the book, and come back later!
Sarah J Maas did something with this book that most YA Fantasy books never really do- she touched on the hard-hitting topics of mental health (PTSD) and domestic violence, making them relatable and understandable to the reader, through the framework of Feyre’s journey. It shouldn’t be surprising that Feyre was struggle big-time with the implications of what she did Under the Mountain (she killed some Fae, was basically Rhysand’s public whore, and suffered immeasurably throughout the trials), but what was surprising was that Maas made Feyre’s struggle to come to terms with her experience so central to the plot.I apologize in advance for the lengthiness of this next bit.
Feyre is literally wasting away at the start of the book – she’s not sleeping, she’s not eating, she’s vomiting regularly, she’s not painting- and most importantly, she’s not talking about it. Tamlin is effectively ignoring her struggle (we’ll get to that later). It’s actually Rhysand, who probably has far more inner demons to struggle with, that helps Feyre come to terms with what happened Under the Mountain, giving her the room to explore her emotions but also forcing her to confront them and deal with them. He is compassionate towards her struggle, and willing to meet her halfway in order to overcome her demons. This alone basically sealed the deal on their relationship for me, the rest was just an added bonus.
“And I realized—I realized how badly I’d been treated before, if my standards had become so low. If the freedom I’d been granted felt like a privilege and not an inherent right.” – Feyre (Sarah J Maas, A Court of Mist and Fury)
If Rhysand’s blatant compassion and support for Feyre sealed the deal for me, it was Tamlin’s blatant disregard and ignorance towards Feyre’s struggle with PTSD that turned me against their relationship. I’m sure Tamlin really does love Feyre, but I think his motivations for loving her are entirely selfish. He cares more about his own happiness (and sex) than he does for the well-being and health of his partner. However, it was the turn towards violence and abuse that led me to actually despise Tamlin more than I ever despised Rhysand (because, let’s be honest, it’s always been pretty hard to dislike a dark, sexy High Lord). Tamlin is consistently rough with Feyre, grabbing her and shaking her on several occasions. However, it is when Tamlin physically (if you can call raw magic physical) lashes out at Feyre, and would have likely harmed her had she not reacted instinctively to the threat, that their relationship teetered over the edge into abusive, in my mind. He then proceeded to continue to ignore her well-being, choosing instead to keep her locked away in his Springtime manor, eventually physically barring her inside it, leading to a nervous breakdown (linked to her previously discussed mental health struggles), from which she was saved by Mor and Rhysand. Tamlin views Feyre as his property, not as person, as is evident through his attempts to get her back. This relationship was, and is, clearly not healthy for anyone, least of all Feyre.
Sarah J Maas has once again produced a masterful work that, like her previous novels, continues to redefine the YA Fantasy genre, while touching on hard hitting topics such as mental health and domestic violence. This book was definitely worth the read, perhaps even more so than A Court of Thorns and Roses, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Feyre and Prythian.