Review: ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’ by S.J Maas

Blurb from 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.

Review:

Ok, so I really loved the first book in this series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, with all its allusions to the Beauty and the Beast fairytale and the Labours of Psyche legend, and its at-times gorgeously sweeping, swooning romance. (I loved it so much, I even made Lucien from ACOTAR my ‘Book Boyfriend of the Month.‘) So I was more than eager to read the sequel- A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMAF.)

I have to admit, though, this book left me a little disappointed at times, so much so that I actually struggled to even finish it. (It’s hardly a short book, either.) I wasn’t sure about the beginning- with Feyre preparing for a wedding to Tamlin that she clearly didn’t want, and then being rescued by Rhysand just after she walked down the aisle. Just the idea of her being penned in by Tamlin, controlled by him (not really realizing this is such an awful thing until the very last moment,) and then being literally swept off her feet and rescued by a High Fae/prince struck me as really Disney, and not very feminist. The beginning part also didn’t have a lot of action, and for me, far too much description of how Feyre was so traumatized by the events in Evil Faery Queen Amarantha’s court that she couldn’t bring herself to paint. I felt sorry for Feyre, and liked her character evolution, but to be honest I found a lot of the description of Feyre’s painting a bit dull. Maas also uses a heck of a lot of ellipses and hyphens (really jarring,) and keeps on repeating the same phrases OVER AND OVER (e.g. ‘my muscles barked in protest’ ‘my legs barked in pain’- the ‘barking’ description kept on being repeated, sometimes even in consecutive chapters, and for me it didn’t work. Barking? Wouldn’t you just say aching/groaning?)

For me, ACOMAF didn’t have as strong a plot as ACOTAR- even its title feels a bit weaker to me- it meandered at points, and Feyre took too long to get the hell out of the Spring Court. There just seemed to be too many characters- e.g. Ianthe (or as I called her, Irritating Ianthe.) What exactly is the point of Irritating Ianthe? Other than to irritate with her simpering scheming-ness?

All the impossibly beautiful, young-yet-ancient queens Feyre meets struck me as also kind of yawn-some. I  felt as though predominantly heterosexual characters were being introduced just so they could be paired off like Noah’s Ark (e.g. SPOILER– Mor/Azriel, Nesta/Cassian,) which is something that annoyed me in Cassandra Clare’s ‘City of Heavenly Fire’ (read my review here.) I’m saying that, and Clare is one of my all-time favourite writers.

And did I mention the HUGE amount of sex in this book? And swearing? (‘Prick’ is repeated about seventy thousand times.) I have no problem with sex scenes in books, but although I loved the heady romance of it, this felt pretty graphic at times, and it got a bit purple prose in parts, so definitely not one for younger readers.

YET, having said all that, there were many, many things I enjoyed:

1. I love the way Prythian, the land of the Fae, is split up into different ruling courts (e.g. Spring, Day, Night, Autumn, etc.) It was good to get more of a sense of this.

2. I felt Rhys was kind of domineering/hard to read at times, and that he sometimes used Feyre as a bit of a sexual pawn (e.g. when in the Court of Nightmares (no spoilers.) That part was just ewwww for me. It set my feminist alarm bells ringing- I get that they kind of ‘had to do’ such a thing on some level, to keep up appearances and suchlike, but I’m not sure what kind of message it sends out, especially to younger readers.) However, I had really warmed to Rhys by the end, and I enjoyed hearing his side of the story, and how it humanized him- which I think is a testament to  Maas’s characterization.

3. The City of Velaris- the City of Starlight within the Night Court- was so gorgeously described, I want to live there!

4. Tamlin as a baddie, woohoo! (Never particularly liked him even in ACOTAR.)

I am firmly #TeamRhys!

5.SPOILER– Lucien finally has a mate! Ok, so obviously I’m gutted it’s not me, but still… *happy dance*

6. The descriptions of Rhys’s wings, and his flying, were often swoonsome.

7. I liked the growing chemistry between Rhys and Feyre, and how Feyre turned into more of a complex, aloof character.

8. I liked strong-willed characters like Mor (Morrigan) and spooky-scary Amren.

9. I also loved how (SPOILER) Feyre is now a ‘child of all seven courts’ and a pretty badass Fae in her own right. Go Feyre, you summon those water wolves girl!

10. The return of the Suriel! (not to be confused with the Return of the Mack, but still just as cool!)

11. The scene where Feyre fights the Weaver- I was on the EDGE OF MY SEAT! OMG!!

12. DID I MENTION THERE ARE WARRIOR FAERIES? I LOVE FAERIES!!!

13. The scene with the Attor-like warriors swooping down on Velaris- gripping!!!!

14. THAT scene with the Cauldron! no spoilers, but…OMG!!

15. Overall, this feels like a far more developed, mature, thought-provoking series than Maas’ previous ‘Throne of Glass’ series, which I approve as, as to be frank Celaena’s character got on my nerves a lot. (Feel free to check my earlier reviews of ‘Throne of Glass’, ‘Crown of Midnight‘ and ‘The Assassin’s Blade‘ for further analysis.)

In conclusion, because of these ‘pros’ I enjoyed ACOMAF, but I also feel it could be better in parts, and there are some parts I didn’t agree with. I’m still excited for the third book, A Court of Wings and Ruin, and interested to see where it will leave Feyre and Rhys. Down with Tamlin! Long live the Night Court! And more Lucien please!

Overall rating: 7 out of 10

Read this book if you enjoyed:  Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (you can read my review of Melissa Marr’s ‘Ink Exchange’, a novel of the Wicked Lovely series, here.)

This Book in Four Words: Complex. Romantic. Mythical. Mixed.

Favourite Character So Far:  A tie between lovely, tortured Lucien and the Suriel

Diversity Checklist: There are characters of different races and backgrounds within this novel, but as far as I am aware, no LGBT characters, which feels like a missed opportunity

 Images via rykesmeadow on Tumblr
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