REVIEW: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

The sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses took me by surprise, even when I was already expecting something better than the original, I wasn’t expecting anything to hit quite so close to home.  I read the A Court of Thorns and Roses series after they were recommended to me by a friend at university. She spent a decent half hour before lab class gushing over the second in the series, assuring me of something I’d never found to be true – that the sequel was better than the original. Of course, I had to read them. If you haven’t read my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses, head on over and give it a read.

About

Following the events of A Court of Thorns and Roses, Feyre has been impacted in a severe mental, and emotional way – and Tamlin is no help at all. Locked in the Spring Court manor house for her own safety, Feyre needs out, but when that escape comes, she’s in for a ride of surprises.

Review

If I thought I devoured A Court of Thorns and Roses quickly, I had another think coming. Weighing in at a hefty 626 pages, A Court of Mist and Fury is no small book, but I couldn’t put it down – I had it read in a day. And in the end, my heart was reduced to mush.

Flaws

You all know that I like to start my reviews off with the flaws, in the structure of things it means the flaws are sandwiched in the middle and the review ends on a high note, not a low one. Having said that, there aren’t many flaws for me to discuss in this book – but of course, I found a few.

Lack of Diversity

As with my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses, it must be noted that some members of marginalised communities have objected to the portrayal of (and lack of) LGBTQ+ and people of colour in these books. Although the problematic representation is not unique to this series it’s important to be aware of these issues. As I’m not a POC or a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I can’t personally speak on this issue, but there are many great discussion on this topic throughout the bookish community.

Erotica

I’m not the worlds biggest fan of erotica. To be honest, I prefer if books don’t have it. I understand that relationships are integral to the plot of A Court of Mist and Fury, but I personally prefer a leave-it-to-your-imagination fade-to-black kind of scene. Having said this, including erotica by no means makes the book bad, it’s just a personal preference.

Problematic Aspects of Relationships

This is something that’s brought up a lot in the discussion of A Court of Thorns and Roses as a whole. There are, without a doubt, problematic relationships (hello, Tamlin – more on that later), and some relationships do have problematic aspects. There are events that take place in A Court of Thorns and Roses between Rhysand and Feyre that are totally not healthy and not okay. In A Court of Mist and Fury, these events are explored and explained, and I personally can understand the reasons for some character actions, but some readers may have difficulty.

Highlights

A Court of Mist and Fury has a tremendous amount of highlights for me, so, for the sake of this reveiw, I’m going to choose my top three highlights from the book, and my overall favourite thing.

The Treatment of Tamlin

Readers who adored Tamlin in the first book may be in for a nasty shock during A Court of Mist and Fury, but I was in for a surprise delight. I never liked Tamlin. I thought he was controlling, domineering, and wildly insecure. As I said in my A Court of Thorns and Roses review:

Tamlin’s controlling tendencies were disguised as legitimate concerns for human Feyre’s safety in a world of stronger, magical Fae. I would have rather seen Tamlin encourage Feyre to grow and to equip her with knowledge, instead of locking her in his charming mansion and hoping she’ll be okay with it.

Tamlin reminded me of so many YA love interests whose behaviour is rarely ever called out in the book for being so controlling and domineering. Maas plays on this so well in A Court of Mist and Fury having easily drawn you to Tamlin in the first book, knowing you’re desensitised to this behaviour, and fully aware you’ll accept Tamlin and Feyre together, then in the sequel, she slowly begins to show exactly what is wrong with Tamlin’s actions and treatment of Feyre. Though I pity Tamlin, somewhat, I was thrilled to see this turn of events.

Characters

A Court of Mist and Fury is filled with brand new characters, and the banter between friends is by far some of the most realistic dialogue I’ve come across in books recently. There’s something about the way that Maas writes these characters, despite being physically perfect and evidently too good to be true, they feel real. They are complex, flawed and always striving to see past their dark pasts and forge a future filled with hope. They each have their flaws, and they know it – this makes them far more loveable, and relatable.

Pacing

Where A Court of Thorns and Roses was predominantly character driven, A Court of Mist and Fury manages to find a perfect balance of plot and person. I couldn’t find a single dull moment during the story, and I thoroughly enjoyed the speed at which events unfolded and progressed, yet I didn’t feel as though the character’s individual arcs were in any way dwarfed or cast aside by the plot. I was very impressed.

Overall favourite thing – PTSD Representation

This was likely the most surprising aspect of A Court of Mist and Fury, one I never knew I needed until it was there. If you don’t know (which you probably don’t), I live with PTSD. I won’t go into the details, because this is a book review and I don’t owe anyone my story,  but I can tell you this, Sarah J Maas does a fantastic job at PTSD representation. Of course, everybody’s PTSD manifests in different ways, and Feyre’s is very different to mine, but one thing I appreciated incredibly was that Feyre’s PTSD didn’t go away, it didn’t heal itself, and it always reared its head when she needed it least. There is no magical cure. It lingers. Even if it’s potency is decreased by time, it comes back. Maas described the lonelinesses, the suffocation and the fear of the condition so well, I was blown away. It’s not something I ever expected to find in a romance/fantasy novel.
When my friend told me that A Court of Mist and Fury would blow my socks off, I didn’t believe her, but now I know I should have. I thoroughly enjoyed the second book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Overall Rating

I gave A Court of Mist and Fury a full five stars. It was hands down my favourite read of 2016.


Official Blurb:

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.

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REVIEW: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

It’s hard to spend a decent period of time on YA bookstagram and avoid encountering A Court of Thorns and Roses or any one of its sequels – A Court of Mist and Fury, A Court of Wings and Ruin and A Court of Frost and Starlight. I read the A Court of Thorns and Roses series before I discovered bookstagram, after they were recommended to me by a friend at university. She spent a decent half hour before lab class gushing over the second in the series, assuring me of something I’d never found to be true – that the sequel was better than the original. Of course, I had to read them.

About

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, following Feyre, the daughter of a merchant who has fallen on tough times. After accidentally hunting and killing a shape-shifting Fae male she is whisked away to the Spring Court, where she learns of a dangerous enemy threatening the Fae.

Review

I first read A Court of Thorns and Roses before the third in the series, A Court of Wings and Ruin was released. After borrowing the first two novels from the library, I sat down one night and devoured them, like I hadn’t devoured anything since The Hunger Games in high school (I read all the Hunger Games books in one night while I was reduced to lying on my bed trying to ignore the awful stinging of a bull ant that lasted all night). While A Court of Thorns and Roses was an entertaining and relatively quick read, I intentionally sped through it to the sequel, because I was promised to be in awe.

Flaws

A Court of Thorns and Roses has peculiar pacing. It’s relatively character driven for the first two-thirds of the novel, which can often feel like it’s moving at a slow pace. Though marketed as a young adult fantasy, A Court of Thorns and Roses is heavy on the romance, which I didn’t mind, even though I’m not particularly fond of romance, but it’s something I make a point to avoid, so in a way it was almost refreshing, and definitely a novelty.
I did have some issues with the romance, however – the main love interest, Tamlin, exhibited some problematic behaviour that’s all too familiar in the YA world. Tamlin’s controlling tendencies were disguised as legitimate concerns for human Feyre’s safety in a world of stronger, magical Fae. I would have rather seen Tamlin encourage Feyre to grow and to equip her with knowledge, instead of locking her in his charming mansion and hoping she’ll be okay with it.
Also, it must be noted that some members of marginalised communities have objected to the portrayal of (and lack of) LGBTQ+ and people of colour in these books. Although the problematic representation is not unique to A Court of Thorns and Roses it’s important to be aware of these issues. As I’m not a POC or a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I can’t personally speak on this issue, but there are many great discussion on this topic throughout the bookish community.

Highlights

A major highlight of A Court of Thorns and Roses was the purely entertaining nature of the book. I think this is one of my favourite things about fantasy novels, especially when they’re well done, though they might provide commentary on the world, and have moral and ethical worth, they are, at their core, fantastical, entertaining stories. I found it easy to get lost in the world of Fae, and the few Beauty and the Beast elements that popped their head out here and there were refreshing and enchanting. Mass writes villains in a decadent and enthralling way, they’re dangerous, witty, and awful – best of all, they know it.
Throughout A Court of Thorns and Roses I spied a few things that I hope will be explored in the rest of the series, some characters I once thought ill of seem to be more morally grey than I first assumed, and I feel like there’s a whole, deep backstory that’s itching to weave its way into the narrative. Overall, I felt that A Court of Thorns and Roses was a solid beginning, laying an intriguing foundation for a promising series.

Overall Rating

I gave A Court of Thorns and Roses 3.75 out of 5 stars.
3.5 stars


Official Blurb:

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

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Mikaela | The Riverside Library