Maas has delivered again. Honestly, I want to sit them woman down and examine her brain to find out exactly how she comes up with these masterpieces and the incredible worlds she creates from thin air.
Feyre is a nineteen year old huntress who is responsible for the wellbeing of her family, after her father lost his fortune years ago. Without her, her family would surely starve. One day, Feyre kills a wolf in the woods and a Fae, a terrible creature from another land, comes to demand retribution. Feyre is offered the chance to go with this creature to the lands she has heard so much terror about, and live the rest of her life on his lands. Her captor is Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court and Feyre slowly begins to feel something for him. But, in the background of her new, beautiful life, a dangerous, ancient power is growing stronger and stronger and only Feyre can stop it and save the world of Faerie from destruction.
(warning: spoilers ahead)
The novel starts of slowly, but this is important. It reflects Feyre’s life before Tamlin roared his way into it, and, most importantly, that she is not privy to the truth behind the gates of Tamlin’s lands. However, when we do find out what is really going on, everything picks up and my face was practically glued to the pages of the book. Maas has an innate gift for world-building, and the history of Prythian (land of the Fae) is amazing. Humans were once slaves to the Fae, until a massive war arose and separated the lands forever. One of the rulers of a Fae land, the King of Hybern, was not happy with this decision, and sent his general, Amarantha, to Prythian to charm, bribe and cheat her way up the chains of command and power, until she turned against her master, and took control of the entire country by enslaving the leaders, the High Lords. The last High Lord to resist her is Tamlin, but a curse was placed upon him through trickery: he has 50 years to find someone to break the curse, or he will be forced to join her and become her lover. The only issue I had with this book would probably be the curse, as it felt a little too exact and specific. In my experience, curses/prophecies are never that specific but perhaps Amarantha made it that way because she knew Tamlin was incapable of breaking it.
The characters in this book were amazing. Feyre was my favourite, especially when it comes to her treatment of sex. I have not read many YA books that deal with sex the way Maas does, as something natural and enjoyable for women as much as men. I mean, this should seem obvious, right? And yet, it is the one issue with YA fiction that I easily anger over. Feyre distorts YA’s tendency towards sex: the girl is not a virgin and the boy is not there to ‘teach’ her. Feyre already enjoys sex and has a friend she regularly meets up with. Feyre is comfortable with sex and her desires. We need more representations of this in YA fiction and I am so thankful to Maas for pioneering it.
Tamlin was an interesting character. When we first meet him, he is in his Fae form, and I was terrified of him. We see him through Feyre’s eyes, so we too, distrust him. He has all the power and she is just a frightened human. As Feyre begins to trust him, so does the reader. He goes far to protect Feyre, even if it means abandoning everyone else, including himself. I was angry, though, that Under the Mountain when Tamlin and Feyre are alone for the first time, he does not use the opportunity to save her, rather try to have sex with her. Bad move, bro.
I really enjoyed Rhys’ character. I have a soft spot for villains and I can spot a misunderstood bad boy with a tragic backstory from a mile away, and I got that feeling whenever Rhys was on the page. I look forward to reading more about him in the second book, and I hope he and Feyre hook up, even briefly.
The final half of the book was simply incredible. Feyre really grows into her own, from a frightened but putting on a brave face young girl, into a powerful and strong saviour. Her actions had me bawling my eyes out and I just know there will be repercussions in the next book.
This was a very strong first book in a trilogy. Maas sets up the world of Fae from the get go, something that takes her several books to do in her Throne of Glass series (not that I’m complaining). Even so, there is plenty that is set up for and needs to be explained in the next novel, which I immediately picked up after the first. I don’t even think ACOTAR hit the ground before I was opening ACOMAF. As usual, Sarah J. Maas has outdone herself in the best of ways. If I haven’t said it enough, the woman is a genius.