Also by this author: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1), Crown of Midnight, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3), A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1), The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-#0.5), Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons, #3), Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7), House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1), A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 3rd 2016
Pages: 624 •Goodreads
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.
Here- here was the most powerful High Lord ever born.
The face of dreams and nightmares (408).
*Disclaimer: The first part of this review will be *relatively* spoiler-free, and the second half below the line will discuss spoiler elements. You’ve been warned!
I am a book blogger. I read a large volume of books every year. I review almost all of them. Some I love, some I hate, few I flail over. Yet when I do find a book that completely enraptures me, I am always convinced it’s going to be the best book of the year, that I’ll never be able to get over it, that the book hangover will be unbearable. Yet I always manage to power though.
I had grave reservations about this book. I absolutely adored A Court of Thorns and Roses, but I knew this book would shift away from the Spring Court and focus on the Night Court, on Rhysand- and I was not about to root for another angsty love triangle situation in YA. However, this book really turned all of my preconceived notions on their head and tells a story so beautiful, and painful, and important that it’s left me reeling and I don’t know whether I want to sob or run around in circles of joy or both at the same time.
When I wrote my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses last year, one of the major elements I noted looking forward to in its sequel was how the trauma of the events that happened Under the Mountain would impact Feyre and the rest of the characters. I wanted it to be dealt with, and not pushed aside in favor of new plot points. I’m pleased to say that right away, Sarah addressed the PTSD that plagues all of the characters who suffered Under the Mountain, through heartbreaking nightmares, crippling phobias, and drastic personality changes. The trauma Amarantha caused sets the stage for A Court of Mist and Fury, where all of the characters must relearn themselves and deal with the new people they have become after that experience. While definitely heartbreaking to read at some points, I thought it was executed well, as such an experience is expected to leave such permanent damage on Feyre, Tamlin and Rhys after the horrors they endured. They are different people (or should I say Fae?) with different priorities and wants and needs now, and its riveting to read the plot with such pain and growth driving it.
As expected after the end of ACOTAR, Feyre is brought to the Night Court to fulfill her bargain with Rhys. While I anticipated not getting to spend much time at the Spring Court in this book, it was more than made up for with the major exploration of other parts of Prythian in stunning and evocative detail. The Night Court is devastating in its beauty, both great and terrible, with The Court of Dreams and The Court of Nightmares. Rhys’ mountaintop palace reminded me a bit of the Moon Palace from Sailor Moon, with it’s mild weather, walkways open to the night sky, and sense of tranquility and calm that it evoked. There’s the Illyrian war camps, the mountain prison that holds horrors such as The Bone Carver…the territory is so vast and you don’t realize quite how sheltered Feyre was until you read ACOMAF, how little of the Fae world she was allowed to see. Feyre also gets to explore the Summer Court, which I think held some of the most stunning descriptions I’ve ever read in a fantasy novel. Reading about Adriata was a true sensory experience, with the call of the sea tugging at Feyre’s power, and the seashell covered walls of the palace and hidden grottos of treasure. My sincerest hope is to be able to see the rest of the courts before this series ends.
Speaking of Feyre’s power, it became a fascinating focus in ACOMAF. Physically and emotionally, Feyre has been forever changed by her time Under the Mountain, racked with guilt over the tasks she performed, trying to navigate her new immortal existence, the powers of all seven high lords warring and festering within her and begging to be used and released. Her wasting away at the beginning of the novel was difficult to read, and I found my initial reluctance of Rhys and the Night Court fading when I saw how differently he treated Feyre compared to Tamlin. Oftentimes when a romantic interest changes in a series, it leaves me unsatisfied and reeling, as I’m not one to jump ships very often. But Sarah J Maas has me jumping ships like crazy in her series, and ACOMAF is no exception. Like in her Throne of Glass series, Sarah writes protagonists who grow and change over the course of her novels and the people the evolve into are not always the right fit for their initial love interest. Enter Rhys. Sure, he was a total bastard in a lot of ways in ACOTAR, as many Fae under the mountain were in order to survive. Sure, he can be cunning and wicked and arrogant. But he is also the breath of fresh air that this book needs after the trauma Under the Mountain and a continent full of paranoid, possessive males. He appreciates strong women, and his first and foremost concern is Feyre learning to read when she comes to the Night Court, which right off the bat indicated the sort of person he is. He never “allows” her to do anything, and does not stifle her powers or make her decisions for her. He’s powerful without having to take powers from others in his relationships.
And now for my Rhysand appreciation paragraph: I am in love. I am over the moon. I am beyond thrilled to see a convincing, consuming love interest who is sexy and powerful and also just, intelligent, and a huge promoter of female rights. Rhysand provides the much needed real talk of this novel:
The issue isn’t whether he loved you, it’s how much. Too much. Love can be a poison.
The tension between him and Feyre was insanity, but while the physical attraction and witty banter was charming (as expected), it was the emotional trust-building and concern for one another’s well being that made me root for Feyre and Rhysand. That sort of emotional health in a relationship is so incredibly attractive and NEEDED in YA and NA, and the romantic elements were made that much better because of it. Sarah also doesn’t skimp on the physical intimacy in this book either, and there were swoon-worthy encounters that felt so perfect for the course of this novel. She doesn’t hold back because of the book being marketed as YA, and I appreciate the raw and passionate intimacy portrayed between Rhys and Feyre. This book is unapologetically sexy, people.
I will say though that my one, tiny complaint about this novel is that I feel that Tamlin’s character was pushed to the extreme in order to drive the plot forward. We definitely see the negative aspects to his personality in A Court of Thorns and Roses (such as his temper, but as it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling I found it very unsurprising). However I feel like some of those negative traits were exacerbated for the sake of driving other story lines forward faster. Overall I think my mind and heart would be in the same place after reading ACOMAF, but I do wish there had been some more nuance, or explanation, for Tamlin’s choices at this point in the series. View Spoiler »Also, RIP my old ship because it’s been blasted out of the water by my EPIC feels for Rhys and Feyre. Just saying. « Hide Spoiler
Unsurprisingly, Sarah J Maas also introduces a whole new cast of secondary characters in this book via the Night Court that are just as fantastic and fleshed out as her initial characters. Mor, Azriel, Cassian, and Amren make up Rhys’ inner circle, and the relationship they all have, a true, chosen family, is incredible. I could read a whole book just on their relationships and their upbringings (I NEED a book about Mor. NEED.), and their inclusion and existence really resonates with Feyre, who I think is the epitome of a person who believes you can choose your family when your real, biological relatives are not there for you in the way that you need them to be. Yet Feyre’s family is not wholly absent either, and Nesta and Elain are seamlessly integrated back into the plot in this novel as well.
You know, I think I’ve managed to pretty coherently articulate my thoughts on what is probably my favorite novel that I have ever read, but I also feel it’s my duty to express to you that I was an absolute mess when I finished it, and you may well be too. The ending ripped me apart, and while not a cliffhanger so to speak, it gutted my soul and I literally do not know what I’m going to do for the next year. I pretty much just freaked out on Twitter the entirety of last night after I finished the novel:
Basically this novel was brilliance and if you like retellings (this one is reminiscent of Persephone and Hades), swoons, sexy times, badass characters, and devastatingly beautiful settings, you should run, not walk, to your nearest bookstore and acquire it. And then tweet me so we can rage/rave/grieve/celebrate together.
I usually don’t discuss spoilers in my review but THIS BOOK warrants a place for me to rave & rant:
- I’m not quite sure when Tamlin turned into a raging abuser, but after about 50 pages in I was like OH HELL NO and had officially jumped to Team Rhys and never looked back. Although it sort of broke my heart because I felt so deeply for Tamlin+Feyre in ACOTAR.
- Also Lucien really needs to grow a backbone.
- Ianthe seemed shady AF to me right away, so totally saw that one coming.
- I think SJM did an important thing through Rhys’ character, showing how males can be victims of physical and sexual abuse too.
- Uhm when the Suriel announced to Feyre that she was Rhysands mate there may have been literal screaming happening…although I guessed it through that last scene between the two in ACOTAR but still. FEELINGS.
- Speaking of mates, SJM’s portrayal of the mating bond is perhaps the most passionate, intense thing I’ve ever read and my heart hurts and thrills and will never be over it.
- I like Feyre but sometimes she was really, really cruel to Rhys (like just dumping him in the mud when he had POISON COURSING THROUGH HIS BODY)
- Tamlin officially made my most hated characters list by teaming up with the King of Hybern, because dude how could you think he wouldn’t double cross you?
- Nesta cursing the king as she was thrown into the cauldron to become immortal a la Voldemort was the most badass thing to happen in the novel
- Page 614 broke my heart and evoked literal tears.
- I can’t believe I’m probably going to have to spend most of the next book reading about Feyre and Rhys NOT being in scenes together. I get it’s war and for a greater purpose, etc. but REALLY?!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Goodreads Challenge 2016
- Retelling Challenge 2016
- Rock My TBR 2016