If it were possible, I would give it a higher rating than 5 stars. Sarah J. Maas has outdone herself here – she has reached the peak in her career where everything she writes now is utter perfection.
I really enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses, but it was quite slow until three-quarters of the way in. In A Court of Mist and Fury, things pick up almost immediately. At the end of ACOTAR, Feyre has committed terrible crimes in order to save Tamlin and the entire country of Prythian from Amarantha. In the second book, she is struggling to come to terms with what she was forced to do and becomes severely depressed: she does not sleep, eat, smile, or laugh. She barely exists; she is essentially a prop used by Tamlin and his new Priestess, Ianthe, to ensure Prythian that the Spring Court is strong and powerful. Her entire future hinges on her ability to breed, remain quiet and do as she is told. Tamlin, too, suffers from nightmares and, because of this, he refuses to allow Feyre to leave his lands for fear that something will happen to her again. Feyre is wasting away, and what’s worse, no one will help her: not Tamlin, not her new friend Ianthe, and not Lucien. Her saviour comes in the form of Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court, who Feyre was forced to make a bargain with in ACOTAR. In exchange for curing her, Feyre must spend one week every month with Rhysand in the Night Court. Due to this bargain, the share a mental bond and so can feel what the other is experiencing, even miles apart.
This book was sorrowful, joyous; a slow burn. I don’t think there’s a word out there to explain how this book made me feel – my emotions ran away from me so many times and I was left in a haze of astonishment and awe. ACOMAF is more than a fantasy story about faeries and war: it’s about love, life, happiness and sacrifice. It’s about learning to move past the despair and accept peace and happiness.
(warning: spoilers below)
The characterization in this novel was beyond incredible. I don’t think there is a book out there that can match the development and personal growth of Maas’ characters. I was so proud of Feyre. At the beginning of the novel, she is a shadow of herself. Watching her grow into a strong, powerful woman was awe-inspiring. She is so fierce, brilliant, brave and determined. She single-handedly saves the Rainbow Road and the city of Velaris. Months earlier, she would have cowered and had a panic attack. Through the support of Rhysand and her refusal to allow herself to be what Tamlin wanted, she grows into a strong heroine.
Speaking of Tamlin… I didn’t know how to understand his character. He doesn’t change, not like Feyre does. All of his motives and actions were very in character, which made me feel like I had been duped by Maas in ACOTAR, because I had shipped Feyre with Tamlin. Now, I despise him and hate him for how he treated her and refused to acknowledge what he was doing to her. He showed me how people in love often make mistakes they believe are for the greater good. The final scenes at the end of the novel had me gritting my teeth in anger. He allies himself with the King of Hybern and allows the King’s forces to invade Prythian in return for Feyre. Even when Feyre tells him that she no longer loves him and doesn’t want him, he refuses to accept her response and instead believes that Rhys has manipulated Feyre. He is a man used to authority and getting everything he wants, and cannot accept that the woman he loves has fallen for another. Not only fallen for his enemy, but mated with his enemy as well. The trauma he suffered under Amarantha really affected him, so much to the point that all of his actions are hindered on ensuring nothing like what Amarantha did can happen again. The greatest villains are the ones that don’t know they are – this is Tamlin.
By far, my favourite element of this novel was its ability to explain that it’s ok to move on and fall for someone else; that the person you thought you loved and wanted to spend the rest of your life with might not be that person anymore. Change is ok – change is good. The person who helps Feyre understand this is Rhysand.
I loved Rhysand. I honestly think he has become my favourite fictional boyfriend, surpassing Jace Herondale, Rowan Whitethorn and Damianos (Captive Prince Trilogy). Rhys embodies the highest standards of every perfect fictional boyfriend: he’s a bad boy, he’s arrogant, beautiful, cunning, powerful… but by far the most incredible thing about him, is that he’s a feminist. A FEMINIST! He does not treat women the way the other male faeries do – he respects them, and even has women in his personal council, which is basically unheard of.
Rhys also suffered at the hands of Amarantha, in that he was forced to sleep with her over the fifty years she had imprisoned him. When we learn his true nature, that he is selfless, nervous, frightened and sweet, I would cry a little. My favourite scene in the novel was when Rhys confesses everything: his actions in ACOTAR, his family and past, his love for Feyre… he is such a precious cinnamon roll.
The new characters in the Night Court were fantastic. Morrigan, Azriel and Cassian were fascinating characters and I look forward to Maas expanding on their strange relationship. Mor is obviously in love with Azriel, and he in love with her, and yet neither makes a move because of their love for Cassian. Amren was the most interesting character as it is suggested she comes from another universe entirely. I really hope Maas explains Amren’s history and past. What I loved most about these characters is that they are all a family who love each other very much, and so quickly welcome Feyre into their family. Despite the fact that they’re secondary characters, they are full, nuanced characters with loves, lives and feelings outside of the main plot and characters. They are the epitome of #squadgoals.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty now. The plot of ACOMAF was jaw-on-the-floor exciting. The King of Hybern plans to invade Prythian and destroy the humans living beneath the wall. He plans on doing this by reconnecting the Cauldron, the magical object that supposedly created all faerie life. The Night Court is the only Court willing to step up and stop him before he completes his task and invades. To do this they need allies: the human queens. The King plans on completely destroying the human race and by warning the humans, especially those that live at the bottom of Prythian, they could save millions of lives. The conclusion of the novel was heart-stopping, but I won’t spoil it for anyone. However, I will say this: for all aspiring writers out there, pay attention: THAT is how you end a novel. The third and final book in the series is going to be amazing.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Sarah J. Maas is an incredible author – one of my new favourites. The fact that Maas has been planning everything since the first book is astounding and I can’t believe I didn’t pick them up sooner. It is my new favourite book, and definitely the best book of 2016.
A Court of Mist and Fury was a book like no other and a wonderful sequel. The world-building expanded to incorporate history and culture. ACOTAR was a great and interesting retelling of Beauty and the Beast, while ACOMAF really shows us what is to come: war, double-dealing, spying … its epic. And the third book will be even more perfect.