Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Song I Played While Reading: Red Lips by GTA
Rating: 4 stars
"Tell me what you see."
"A world divided in two."
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 great 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 torn apart.
I wasn't invested in A Court of Thorns and Roses as much as I had originally thought I had been. Don't get me wrong, as I read it, I really, really liked it. I was enamored with Feyre's relationships and the plot line, but as it sometimes happens with books... the year long gap between ACTOAR and A Court of Mist and Fury really tested me. It's wasn't like Throne of Glass, where the mere mention of one of the characters has me jumping off the walls and crying. Throne of Glass is my version of Harry Potter: it's the book of my soul, and even though Queen of Shadows was a hot fucking mess, I'm so emotionally invested in the characters and the plot line it's like my actual life depends on it. My feelings don't wane over time. They only get stronger.
So, I didn't feel that connected with the characters or plot line in ACOTAR. Like I said, I still enjoyed it and rated it 4.5 stars, but there wasn't that soul-binding part. And even though A Court of Mist and Fury shattered every expectation of mine and gave life to my ship and had gorgeous character arcs and a gorgeous plot line and plot twists for days... there was something lacking. It was a minuscule thing, since I was sobbing by the end of this book and was so furious and heartbroken over certain events that occurred. But whatever that minuscule thing was, it tripped me up. Maas' words didn't flow, so I was constantly pulled out of the story. There were parts when it really aligned with me, and it was like I was seeing it all play out in my head like a damn movie, but then I would suddenly be yanked out and loose that razor sharp focus. Being pulled out by that really looses some of the emotions for me, especially when it happened during a traumatic or romantic scene. I don't know why this happens sometimes, if it's an outside force or not, but it happened. It had absolutely nothing to do with the actual book though, which is pretty obvious if you're on any type of social media: everyone is raving about ACOMAF, and it has a 4.77 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. Since I'm going to get alllllll kinds of spoilery in the rest of my review, I just want to leave you with this: READ ACOMAF. Even if you didn't really enjoy ACOTAR. A Court of Mist and Fury changes everything.
Also, this has oodles and oodles of mature content, so brace yourself for the swear words and sexy times. It's waaaay hotter and more explicit than ACOTAR.
Knowing Sarah J. Maas, she likes to give her characters multiple love interests. Sometimes at the same time, and sometimes not. Which is totally okay! I personally am not like that, but that's neither here nor there. And c'mon. Who didn't see Rhysand becoming something more by the end of ACTOAR? The shit he did for her Under the Mountain was unbelievable, and as we're told by the end of ACOMAF, Rhysand does waaaaaay more than what we saw. I was told, as probably was most of the world, that Rhysand was a huge character in this book, and that they're mates, from social media. It was an unintentional spoiling, and I didn't mind. I think a part of me kind of figured something big would happen between them. What I didn't see coming was them being Mates from almost the beginning of their relationship. I was actually a little disappointed that it didn't happen during the book, because it would've been so interesting to see how it was formed and what they were doing when it happened. Rhysand makes it seem like it just clicks into place, with the story we got about his parents. So, obviously, obviously, obviously I ship Feysand. I shouldn't even have to claim that, since there are no other guys in the running.
Which leads me to Tamlin the Tool. Now, I don't hate him. Cue the gasps and utter horror because what the hell Mariah, he was mentally abusive and locked her up and didn't listen to her and was smuggling her and was super sexist and didn't fight for her and sold out all of Prythian just to claim something he believed was his and blah blah blah. YEAH, I KNOW. But I honestly don't even care about him. He invokes no emotions in me. He's so far out of my mind, out of my range of emotions, that I just shrug whenever he's around, because I expect so low from him. Admittedly, I was a little shocked when I heard that he turns into an asshole from Tumblr, but since I was already leaning towards Rhysand, I just stopped caring. I'm not gonna lie: I was expecting worse. I thought he was gonna hit her or something. And I know what he does is awful, but (here's where my own little personal quirk comes in) he had good intentions. You know he did all those things because he cared so much about Feyre. He was doing what he wholeheartedly believed to be right, and that's where the other half of my I-dont-hate-Tamlin mantra came from. That's why it takes a lot for me to hate a character or a villain: most of the time, they're doing what they believe to be right. You can't fault someone for that. I mean you can, but I usually don't because I have a weird heart that likes to be simultaneously cold and bitchy and warm and cuddly.
Onto my other ship: NESSIAN. Oh my LANTA, do I ship these two. I shipped them the moment they sat down for dinner at Nesta's house and she was being a wise crack and he snapped back at her. That sort of thing is instantaneous for me: the second two people, who have even the slightest possibility of being attracted to each other, start hating each other or snapping at each other, my heart combusts. And by hate, I mean they both have such strong personalities that they can barely be in the same room as each other. They're too alike. Or I can BROTP them, kind of like what I did with Kenji and Juliette in the Shatter Me trilogy. But either way, it's a ship of some sort. PEOPLE WHO GET ANNOYED WITH EACH OTHER AND MAKE SNAPPY RETORTS ALL DAY ARE MY KIND OF PEOPLE, OK???
Besides the ships, all the side characters get a gold star; Amren for being whatever the hell she was and owning it; Mor for being so incredibly strong and still being able to laugh and live life to the fullest; Azriel for being quiet, thoughtful, and deadly; and Cassian for being a sarcastic, sexy asshole. #nightcourtsquad
I remember the exact moment when I fell in love with Azriel and Cassian. With Cassian, it had been when him and Feyre were training and she had gotten worked up over Tamlin and how much she had given up for him, and she had burned through the gloves and sparring pad, and yet he still kept his hands up, letting her let out all her emotions.
"The wrapping around my hands were now mere smudges of soot. Cassian's upraised palms remained before me- ready to take the blow if I needed to make it. "I'm all right," he said quietly. Gently."
I cried during that scene. WHAT A LITTLE CINNAMON ROLL.
And then with Azriel, it had been his calm, thoughtful, no-non sense attitude.
"I didn't let myself finish the thought as I said, "I'll fly with Azriel."
Rhys and Cassian looked as if I'd declared I wanted to parade through Velars in nothing but my skin, but the shadowsinger merely bowed his head and said, "Of course." And that, thankfully, was that."
I have no idea why that hit me so hard, but the fact that he accepted it without thought, didn't make a big show, and bowed his head, as if he was a little honored, made me tear up. What a god damn gentleman. Mor, if you don't pounce on that, I WILL.
Fantasy novels usually have elements that readers can relate to: romance, self-discovery, family relations, yadda yadda. But Maas dug deep in A Court of Mist and Fury, and pulled out things you don't normally see from a main character as explicitly as we do with Feyre: PTSD and depression. This book is so much more than just a quest for peace and romance; it's the hardships of forgiveness, of accepting yourself and your past, of being able to open up to other people and ask for help, to be able to rely on others. That's what Maas is really good at. We see it with Celaena in Throne of Glass, and now we see it with Feyre. But it's still so much different with Feyre. She struggles for almost 400 pages, and the great thing is that she has unending support from someone who doesn't push her. I was actually getting a little impatient with how long it was taking Feyre and Rhysand to fall for each other. Obviously, Rhysand had already fallen, but Feyre took her time. It was great, because we definitely need more of that friendship mentality thing going on in books. Rhysand was her friend from the beginning, and that was the base of her support. It was only from that point did the romance and true feelings start to blossom, and god, it was gorgeous. It was slow-burning and tender, and then quickly became explosive once we hit that 475 page mark. I was so ready for it, and Maas DID NOT DISAPPOINT. I finished chapter 55 feeling like I had just ran a fucking marathon.Finally, let's talk about my sob fest at the monumental ending. I felt WAY TOO MANY EMOTIONS IN SUCH A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME. Once I closed the book my brain and heart both short-circuited and I just laid on the floor for a solid 10 minutes. I went through a cycle of being pissed off, then heartbroken, then shocked, then confused, and finally alarmed, and then quickly reverted back to being pissed off. But what took the cake was heartbreak. My god, when Feyre was begging the king to not have her sisters turned, and having them both fight so incredibly hard to not be shoved in that cauldron, utterly killed me. I couldn't tell who was worse; Elain, because she was so sweet and kind and innocent, or Nesta, who fought tooth and nail. I have the upmost respect for her. Her character arc, though some may see it as nonexistent, was huge to me. She was such a strong character, never once backing down, even in the face of horrid odds. I was screaming as she pointed that finger at the King because YOU KNOWWWW SHE'S GONNA FUCK HIM UP. OH MY GOD. IT'S GIVING ME GOOSEBUMPS JUST THINKING ABOUT IT. There was something similar to Amren in Nesta at that moment, as if she was otherworldly. The King had the good sense to flinch, which satisfied me to no end.
And if that wasn't soul-shattering enough, let's just throw in Cassian getting his wings torn to bits, him struggling to get to Nesta as she was turned, Lucien and Elain suddenly becoming Mates, FEYRE TRICKING ME FOR ONE SECOND THAT SHE DIDNT REMEMBER RHYSAND, AND THEN OH YEAH, WANTING THE BOND BETWEEN HER AND RHYSAND DESTROYED. I was done by that point. DONE, I TELL YOU. THE SOBS WERE UNREAL. Even though a small part of me thought there was no way someone could rip apart a bond as strong as Rhysand and Feyre's, I BELIEVED. I WAS UTTERLY DESTROYED AND LOST ALL HOPE IN THE WORLD. I also wanted to punch Maas in the face. Sorry Papa Maas, but your wife is cruel. And then we were thrown for another fucking loop when you realize RHYSAND AND FUCKING FEYRE HAD THIS WHOLE THING KIND OF PLANNED AND WERE ACTUALLY ALREADY MARRIED AND SHE WAS HIGH LADY OF THE NIGHT COURT AND SHE WAS A SPY AND WAS GOING TO DESTROY TAMLIN AND THE KING AND IM SOOOOOOOOOOOO DONE. SO DONE.
I'm honestly surprised my brain didn't leak out of my ears a little, because I think it is right now. Revisiting all those emotions has me wanting to sleep because I'm overloaded. Sarah J. Maas, you beautiful wicked story teller... KUDOS.
"The only evidence I had at all that Rhys remained on the premises were the blank copies of the alphabet, along with several sentences I was to write every day, swapping out words, each one more obnoxious than the last:
Rhysand is the most handsome High Lord.
Rhysand is the most delightful High Lord.
Rhysand is the most cunning High Lord."
"You," I breathed, not taking my eyes from the musicians playing so skillfully that even the diners had set down their forks in the cafes nearby. "You sent that music into my cell. Why?"
Rhysand's voice was hoarse. "Because you were breaking. And I couldn't find another way to save you."
"When you spend so long trapped in darkness, Lucien, you find that the darkness begins to stare back."
"I heard every word between you. I knew you could take care of yourself, and yet … " He went back to his pie, swallowing a bite before continuing. "And yet I found myself deciding that if you took his hand, I would find a way to live with it. It would be your choice."
I sipped from my wine. "And if he had grabbed me?"
There was nothing but uncompromising will in his eyes. "Then I would have torn apart the world to get you back."