Long time no see, bookworms. Beware, here there be spoilers.
I like Sarah J. Maas. She writes great rollicking adventures with a varied cast of characters, fun villains and interesting leads. Last year I read A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first in her new trilogy, a beauty and the beast retelling set in a world where humans and fae are separated only by a wall. It’s hard writing a review for a sequel, so here’s a little spoiler-y synopsis of the first book. As a bonus.
In A Court of Thorns and Roses, our herione, Feyre, a 19-year-old human huntress who despises the fae people and is struggling to feed her family, ends up killing a fae and in return must go to live on their side of the wall. She lives within the Spring Court, under the dominion of Tamlin, the High Lord there. Beauty goes to live with the beast, so you know how that story goes. However, there is another, darker power on the fae side of the wall, in the form of the fae conqueror Amarantha. Late in the book, Tamlin is held captive by Amarantha. Feyre risks everything for him, making a bargain with Amarantha and undergoing many life-threatening tasks, at one point forced into making a deal with Amarantha’s pet High Lord, Rhysand, reminiscent of Hades and Persephone – that if they defeat Amarantha, she must spend one week of every month with Rhysand at the Night Court. With his help, Feyre defeats Amarantha but dies in the process. BUT the High Lords of all the courts, united by their shared experience of Amarantha’s tyrannical rule, band together and use their power to resurrect Feyre. However, when she wakes, she is no longer human, but fae.
A Court of Mist and Fury begins with Feyre and Tamlin at the spring court, soon to be married. Feyre and Tamlin are both suffering from the events that took place in Amarantha’s keep, Under the Mountain. Nightmares and high stress punctuate their previously idyllic relationship. Passions still run high and, unlike many YA books, they explicitly have regular sex. But Tamlin’s fear makes him controlling, he prevents Feyre leaving the grounds while he rides out to protect them. He keeps all manner of dangers and secrets from her. Three months after Amarantha’s defeat, the day of Feyre and Tamlin’s wedding, Feyre finds that she wishes she could escape from the impending marriage, the duties of being a consort to a High Lord and all the restrictions that come with them. And, as she hesitates walking down the aisle, Rhysand appears to make good on his bargain, to whisk her away to the Night Court.
Rhysand, despite his efforts and good looks, fails to charm Feyre on her first visit, but insists on her learning how to read and write, so she spends much of her time alone. When she returns to Tamlin and the Spring Court, she is quizzed on everything she saw and heard. Tensions escalate, Tamlin is barely able to contain his rage and fear for Feyre, despite her new, stronger, fae form. Finally he crosses line Feyre cannot forgive, and is rescued by one of Rhysand’s inner circle. She remains there, and learns more about the Night Court and the secrets of its mysterious High Lord.
Things I liked
The change of romance. I was all team Feylin in the first book. Tamre. Whatever the correct portmanteau is (the internet can’t seem to decide). Many people thought early on that there should be a Feyre-Rhysand ship. But I was all about Tamlin. The early stages of this book showed how the trauma of what happened under the mountain exposed cracks in their relationship. The attempts of both Feyre and Tamlin to maintain what was good about their relationship before are there, but their respective inabilities to deal with their trauma drives them further apart, when they could have found comfort with each other. That leads me onto another thing I liked…
The portrayal of trauma. Many heroes have an enormous traumatic experience and are fine the next time we see them. These characters went through an ordeal, and they have to cope with what happened to them and what they did under the mountain. It’s nice to see.
Feyre as a heroine. Despite now being fae, she is very human in her emotions, her flaws, and her talents. I believe her, as a character.
There were some big steamy moments. That was refreshing.
Things I didn’t like
I dunno. I had a great time reading this. Wasn’t expecting to write a review. It was..quite long? But I still devoured it in a few days.
Oh – the ending was a little anti-climactic perhaps. The old second book in a trilogy issue. But it was a great lead up to the final instalment…
Should I read this?
Obviously not if you haven’t read the first one. But if you have read it, and maybe you thought it was good but not great, maybe you thought it wasn’t what you wanted after reading Maas’s Throne of Glass series, maybe you were all about Feyre and Rhysand from the very beginning, I urge you to pick up the second one.
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