BOOK REVIEW - A Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah J Maas)
Today I'm doing a follow up review for A Court of Thorns and Roses! (You read my review, right? find it here!)
Now, as you know, I was FURIOUS with Sarah J Maas for the way she ended ACOTAR, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on A Court of Mist and Fury to see how it all went down.
Now, let me tell you something. A Court of Mist and Fury might just been a game changer for the YA genre.
I know, right? bold claim - but this book? Just... wow.
****SPOILER ALERT! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!****
ACOMAF opens pretty much where we left off in ACOTAR, with Feyre and Tamlin returned to the Spring Court after the defeat of Amarantha. Feyre is waking from a nightmare, and straight away, the tone of the book is set.
Personally, I loved the darkness. The fact that Amarantha's presence still lingered in book 2, despite the fact that she had been defeated. Sarah J Maas has a habit of giving a new spin on traditional themes, and the Happily Ever After you would expect to find is nowhere in sight.
Instead, we find them broken, struggling to return to a life they didn't think they'd see again, and finding that they no longer fit.
Feyre is the most changed. Since her re-birth as Fae, she's a far cry from the plucky human girl she was at the beginning. She's stronger, faster, far less fragile in the physical sense, and coming to terms with the idea that she gets to live forever.
It sounds like the stuff of dreams, right? Not for Feyre. She no longer knows her own body. She breaks stuff, without even trying. She mourns the fact that she will outlive her family, unable to grasp the idea of immortality.
She is utterly, utterly miserable - because for all that has changed, her heart remains the same, and the guilt of what she had to do under the mountain - the blood she spilled, the lives she took - leeches the colour from her world, and leaves her empty.
Not only that, but she has a wedding to plan! Tamlin and his cronies are convinced that a wedding is just the thing to get the Spring Court back to normal, and before she even knows what's happened, Feyre is stuffed into a hideous dress, and is walking down the aisle.
She see's Tamlin waiting for her, knows that she has everything she thought she wanted within her reach - and she stops, right in the middle of the aisle, in front of everyone, and knows she can't go any further.
Luckily for her, there's Rhysand.
"Hello Feyre, Darling."
(Edit: Since Rhysand looks like Ian Somerhalder in my head, all future Rhysand-related Gifs will be Damon Salvatore!!! Sorry not sorry)
Rhysand whisks Feyre away from that horrible wedding, and takes her back to the Night Court - a place that Feyre knows as dark and dangerous, ruled by the tyrant that is Rhysand.
Instead, she finds herself in a beautiful palace atop a mountain, with nothing but peace and snow for miles.
Now, this isn't entirely out of the blue. Feyre did make a bargain with Rhysand in ACOTAR, promising to spend one week of every month with him in the Night Court, in exchange for his saving her life under the mountain. (A theme that leans heavily on the myth of Hades and Persephone - who had to spend 6 months of the year in Hell.) So I was expecting him to turn up at some point.
As I think I mentioned in the ACOTAR review, I was intrigued by Rhysand, but not yet in love. (Beauty and irreverent sex-appeal are, indeed, fine qualities for a man to possess, but they do not equate to love.) But he showed his softer side in the Night Court, showing concern at her state (gaunt, exhausted, miserable), and actually looked after her in a way Tamlin seemed incapable - giving her space and quiet when she needs it, and helping her to understand more about who she was now.
He also introduces Feyre to his 2nd in command - a female Fae, called Morrigan. (yet another reference to an Irish myth - the Morrigan, Queen of Nightmares and War.) who is refreshingly flippant of her cousin, and shows yet another side of the Lord of Nightmares.
Oh yeah, and true to the original theme, Rhysand feeds Feyre too.
This is a bit of a turning point in the story. So far, its been Feyre's journey to Tamlin. Now, she's on the edge of understanding how he might not be the white knight she thought he was, and we see further growth in her character as she comes to terms with this.
Again, can I just point out that this is never done in YA fiction? The girl always returns to her first love. ALWAYS. And the sexy, charming bad boy (who always turns up to turn her head) never wins her heart.
Its the epitome of a fairy tale, of course. The idea that we will all meet our true love and live happily ever after. The truth is that, in real life, we have to kiss a few frogs before we find our prince charming.
Here's hoping that Tamlin is just a frog...
Unfortunately for Feyre, who begins to get her sh*t together at the Night Court, she can't stay there forever. As soon as the week is up, she returns to the Spring Court, and to Tamlin.
Now, if you were expecting Tamlin to be horrified that his wife-to-be had been abducted by the Lord of the Night Court, you wouldn't be wrong. Tamlin rages like a wild beast and tries to make it up to Feyre with lots of sexy times - his go-to when he is confused and doesnt know how to handle a situation.
(Have I mentioned the sex-scenes in this series?! Sarah J Mass has one HELL of an imagination! )
Flaming-hot sex aside, ultimately nothing has changed - except the bonus that the wedding has been 'delayed' - and Feyre returns to her misery.
Now, to be fair, Tamlin sees Feyre struggling. He sees how she can't paint, and hates being anywhere that feels like a cage (after under the mountain, Feyre has seen enough cages to last a lifetime!) and wants to help. And what does he do?
He buys her some new paints, and locks her in his house, for her protection.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
I was just about done with this book at this point. Yes, it was a masterpiece in misery, and an inspired insight into how war changes people - but I couldn't cope with Tamlin's overbearing self-serving desperation to keep Feyre on a lead. (leash, for my American readers!)
Luckily for me, Neither could Feyre.
The moment Tamlin locked Feyre in that house, she was done. She had a meltdown of epic proportions, and nearly destroyed herself in the process.
It was only through Morrigan arriving to tear down the barriers Tamlin had put up, and getting her the hell out of there, that she even survived.
Lets see Tamlin talk his way out of this one.
Mor takes Feyre back to the Night Court - and Rhysand offers to let her stay for as long as she likes. Having nowhere else to go, Feyre agrees.
The Rhysand does something spectacular.
He takes Feyre, a girl who has done just about everything to save the man she loved, only to be treated like a trophy the moment it was over, to be discarded and left out of any further battle plans because she is too fragile and precious...
... And Rhysand trusts her with his biggest secret.
I know, it doesn't sound much when I say it like that, but in actuality, its huge. Its the size of a city.
It IS a city - and probably the most beautiful city left in the world, having been hidden from Amarantha for the entire time she reigned over Hyburn (50 years!)
To a girl who has spent her life in a world torn apart by war, Velaris is heaven, and Feyre marvels at it - and then turns accusing eyes to Rhysand.
You can't really blame her. When the entire universe was falling apart, Rhysand was, in her mind, selfish enough to keep a little bit of paradise for himself.
But it was in this moment, that I fell in love with Rhys.
It wasn't the city. It was the people. His people. Rhysand sacrificed himself, killing countless fae, spinning dense webs of deceit in order to keep Velaris hidden, and turned himself into a tyrant to keep it safe.
He was Amarantha's whore for 50 years, her right hand man, and all to ensure that the people who depended on him were protected.
The Lord of Nightmare's was a myth - an act designed and created entirely for the benefit of everyone but himself - and I was a goner.
Unfortunately, it took the ENTIRE REST OF THE BOOK for Feyre to catch up.
Admittedly, she'd been burned before, so you can't blame her for not trusting him straight away, but she did grow to like him, over time.
This is, yet another thing you don't see in YA books. It's usually all about the 'insta-love' - the heart-eyes the moment the protagonist and her love interest meet, the intense desire, the requited feelings despite the [insert villainous foe here] trying to keep them apart....
Sarah J Maas ignores all of that, allowing Feyre and Rhys to get to know each other, to flirt (unashamedly) and to spend time with each other as friends, as equals, whilst ACTUAL BOOK PLOT is happening (read the book if you want to know that stuff - I'm interested in the characters!)
It's only right at the end of the book that they finally FINALLY get together and, true to form, even that doesn't go down like you think it would.
Feyre is in the process of saving Rhys' life (He was shot out of the sky by poisoned arrows - as you do.) and gets told by the Suriel (A mythical creature who answers your questions if you can catch it) that Rhys is her mate (think Soul-Mate and marriage, but much more binding and powerful.) and that Rhys has known about it for months!!
Naturally, Feyre is pissed off. She saves Rhys from the poisoned arrows, only to dump him with his friends and take off, having had enough of men who lie to her.
But then, with the chance to think it through, she begins to realise all the things that I'd been yelling at the book for hours now, connecting the dots and seeing Rhys for who he really was.
Suddenly, in her eyes, Rhysand was a beast no more!
Did you see what I did there?
And then, epic sex.
And that, my friends, is that. Stay tuned for my review of the next book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series - A Court of Wings and Ruin !