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.
Cauldron boil me.
I loved this book. The second installment in Sarah J. Maas’ romantic high fantasy series; A Court of Mist and Fury is sensual, magical follow-up to A Court of Thorns and Roses. With strong, well-developed characters, an action packed plot and a sizzling, slow burning romance, it blows the first book out of the water.
This book switches Spring for Night and the world-building is something else. Maas’ writing is dazzling, thrusting the reader into a sumptuously imagined world of night skies, starry dreams and heady power. She manages to cram such beautiful detail into settings, places and objects that there is something new to be discovered each time you re-read a page, which I did quite often because I couldn’t bear to finish the book. This is one of those rare instances where over 600 pages doesn’t seem like quite enough.
Where the pacing of A Court of Thorns and Roses was quite slow, laying foundations for various characters, creatures and places, A Court of Mist and Fury lives up to its name with a furiously action-packed plot. Despite obvious romantic themes, this is a real fantasy book as opposed to a romance novel with fantasy elements. We get so much new information in this book as Maas weaves a complex web of connections between characters and packs in enough twists, reveals and political intrigue to keep you up way past your bedtime.
The characters. Oh my. These characters are some of the most compelling I’ve come across in a fantasy novel. There’s a new villain to plug the hell-shaped hole that Amarantha left, as well as a bank of new characters in the form of Rhysand’s court of dreamers: Mor, Azriel, Amren and Cassian. Although this book is very much centred on Rhysand and Feyre, Maas never neglects the detail in her supporting cast. Each of the people who appear in the novel have purpose, memorable quirks and engaging histories which left me wanting to know more.
Feyre develops into someone utterly new in this book, growing into a character which I grew to root for with the turning of each page. After the events of Under The Mountain, it would be impossible for her to remain unchanged (especially because she’s now High Fae), but what she wants from her future and from other people has also shifted dramatically. The whiny, naive girl who yearned to be protected has disappeared, replaced by a fierce, yet broken woman who longs for the freedom to heal and to make her own decisions.
“I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal.
I was a survivor, and I was strong.
I would not be weak, or helpless again
I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.”
Feyre, A Court of Mist and Fury
Considering the distinctly un-feminist vibes that I got from A Court of Thorns and Roses, I was surprised and delighted to find that one of the key themes in A Court of Mist and Fury is equality. Maas has jam-packed this novel with interesting, intelligent, capable female characters who aren’t just there to make up numbers. From fiercely loyal Amren, to vulnerable warrior Mor, to iron-willed Nesta, the way women are written is varied and wonderful and true. They have strengths and weaknesses, foul mouths and sex drives, valid thoughts and valued opinions, good days and bad days and they don’t compete with the male characters because they don’t have to.
The portrayal of romance and the way Feyre was treated by male characters in the first book left a sour taste in the mouth of many a reader, including my own. I didn’t like Tamlin and Feyre’s relationship and I felt that it was presenting something really unhealthy as something desirable. Although Rhysand was a much more interesting character, he didn’t treat Feyre in a particularly honourable way Under The Mountain either. At the beginning of the book, we know very little about Rhys other than the fact that he’s a High Lord who is as powerful as he is feared, he’s struck a bargain with Feyre meaning that she has to live with him for a period of time every month and he’s also just a tiny bit shady.
Maas’ was always going to have to do something pretty incredible with Rhysand’s character to make his actions justifiable and boy, does she give the reader a back story to chew on; divulging details about his childhood, his parents, his role in the mortal war and why people perceive him the way that they do. I finally understand what it is about her writing that inspires such crazy fandoms, because in the High Lord of the Night Court she’s created a male character who usurps Will Herondale from his YA love interest throne with just one flap of those fabled Illyrian wings.
I can almost hear people sighing about another young adult love triangle, but trust me when I say that this isn’t your average angst-y love story, but rather something much more mature and complex. As Maas slowly brings Rhys and Feyre together over the course of the book, she takes the time to expose their vulnerabilities, strengths, desires and fears in vivid detail. Both of the characters are so well-developed individually before the relationship takes centre stage that when they finally do get together it seems so natural and so right that it’s impossible not to feel the feels. If this isn’t a pairing to be emotionally invested in, I don’t know what is.
Maas has cleverly and purposefully created distinct differences between Rhysand and Tamlin. In the way that they treat women, in the way that they conduct themselves and in the way that they love, they are utterly opposite. Rhysand slays Tamlin on account of the fact that he’s witty, mischievous and fun (Tamlin is about as fun as a poke in the eye by my standards) but more importantly, he’s not afraid to show his vulnerability and his weaknesses as both as a partner and a leader. Whilst Tamlin lets his insecurities dictate his relationship with Feyre, wanting to keep her locked away in his home like a dog and stifling her spirit on account of keeping her safe, Rhys does nothing of the sort.
“And I realized—I realized how badly I’d been treated before, if my standards had become so low. If the freedom I’d been granted felt like a privilege and not an inherent right.”
Feyre, A Court of Mist and Fury
He sees Feyre as his equal in every sense, wanting her to stand by his side as a lover, friend and a partner in crime. Despite his own brokeness, he never lets his fears dictate their relationship, instead embracing her independence and always letting her make her own decisions. I adore that in so many ways. If I didn’t know better, I’d go as far as to say Rhysand is a feminist.
He’s also a total babe.
I have very little criticism to make about this book, but I suppose if held at gun point, I would say that last couple of chapters were a bit over the top. Despite loving that evil cliffhanger ending, I felt like there were a couple of unnecessary additions to the plot. Why do characters within friendship groups always have to pair up like it’s some sort of cult? Does it feel realistic? No. To me, it just feels like a contrived way to tie up loose ends. Whats so bad about being single, anyway?
Sneaky old Maas may have her reasons for this, but unfortunately we’ll have to wait until May 2017 to find out. Does anyone want to set up a special support group in the meantime?
- Author: Sarah J. Maas
- Publication Date: 4th March 2014
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
- Pages: 640
- Rating: 5/5
- In short: A dazzlingly dark and daring follow up to A Court of Thorns and Roses.