Book: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)
Author: Sarah J Maas
I honestly put off reading this book for the longest time, firstly because I wasn’t overly keen on ACOTAR, secondly because it got such insanely good reviews that I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype and thirdly because there has been so much controversy around the problematic elements of Sarah J Maas’ books that sharing my opinions on them makes me a little nervous! Still my friend Nicola absolutely loves this book and has been insisting that I should read it for months, and I really dislike leaving series unfinished, so I thought I’d give it a go and to my surprise, I actually genuinely enjoyed it, far more than ACOTAR. I did still have my problems with it, but overall, it was an enjoyable book to read and I’m looking forward to see how she wraps everything up in the last book. Here is a short synopsis of the book (though I’m sure most of you know what it’s about by now!):
Feyre is immortal.
After rescuing her lover Tamlin from a wicked Faerie Queen, she returns to the Spring Court possessing the powers of the High Fae. But Feyre cannot forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people – nor the bargain she made with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court.
As Feyre is drawn ever deeper into Rhysand’s dark web of politics and passion, war is looming and an evil far greater than any queen threatens to destroy everything Feyre has fought for. She must confront her past, embrace her gifts and decide her fate.
She must surrender her heart to heal a world torn in two.
I liked Feyre a lot better in this book than I did in the first one, she seemed to have more of her own agency in this book than she had in ACOTAR, and she grows in confidence and I just generally felt like I could connect to her more in this book than the last book, she felt very bland to me in ACOTAR, but in ACOMAF, she felt like a more well rounded character and I loved seeing her grow from the broken shell that she is in the start of the book, to the fierce female she comes to be by the end. I loved that Sarah J Maas did not shy away from showing the effects of what happened in the last book on Feyre and that we really got to see her go on an emotional journey in this book.
I liked the mix of longer and shorter chapters, in such a long book, it really helped in getting through it as I tend to get a little bogged down if I’m reading a long book that also has super long chapters!
I want to get the elephant in the room out of the way first, as this seems to be something a lot of people had a huge problem with in this book and that’s the character development of Tamlin. I saw a lot of reviews that said SJM pulled a total bait and switch with Tamlin in this book, but I really don’t see it that way. I said in my review of ACOTAR that Tamlin’s behaviour towards Feyre was abusive and that I didn’t like how possessive he was of her, so it didn’t surprise me at all the way he was with her in this book. I think Feyre was simply blinded towards Tamlin’s flaws because she was in love with him, and she merely saw in this book what I had already seen in the last one. It wasn’t just SJM making Tamlin possessive and abusive in order to have Feyre with Rhysand, he was already showing these traits.
Whilst we’re on the topic, I want to talk about Rhysand for a second. Yes he offers Feyre choices, and seems to care for her and helps to build her up after Tamlin, this is all well and good, but he is not solely the charming hero, he is incredibly possessive of Feyre, and he does several things which put her in danger in this book without telling her why, plus just because he treats her well in this book, doesn’t erase his behaviour from the last book. I didn’t like that SJM was trying to make him seem perfect, because quite honestly, he’s kind of an ass, but of course, he has to be the most powerful, attractive High Lord of ever. I think I put it best when I talked to my friend about him, I liked his arrogant, cheeky behaviour as a book character, but if he was real I would totally punch him. I just felt like SJM went a bit overboard on trying to make him seem perfect in this book, when honestly, his appeal in the first place was his imperfections! Basically I’m still not totally on board with Rhys yet, yes he does some good things in this book, but that doesn’t erase his previous bad behaviour. Faes generally just don’t seem to treat women particularly well!
I still wasn’t keen on the sex scenes in this book. Part of it is me, I’m not the most comfortable reading those kinds of scenes, but I also feel like SJM writes them really awkwardly? It just doesn’t feel natural to me at all. She’s perfectly fine when doing flirty banter, in fact I really enjoy that, but when things get more steamy, it just feels very awkward. Does anyone else feel like this? Or is it just me? It bugs me that this book is still labelled as YA because really, it’s not suitable for those at the younger end of the YA spectrum, it’s more NA.
I loved seeing Feyre’s new magical powers, we didn’t really get enough Fae magic in the first book, so I was glad to see much more of it in this one, and through that we also got a little bit more of an insight into the other courts which was good.
I felt like Lucien kind of got the short straw in this book? He’s been just as trapped by Tamlin as Feyre was and yet no one cares enough about him to rescue him. I don’t know, I just liked him a lot in the first book and wished we’d got to see him more!
Velaris as a setting was completely incredible and I loved it so much, it sounded so beautiful and was so vividly described by SJM that I felt like I was there!
I loved Rhys’ inner circle, they had such great chemistry as a group, their back and forth banter was awesome and I loved how they all felt like family. I particularly loved Mor, there was something about her that I instantly connected with. I liked that this book finally gave Feyre some more female friends as well, that was great. I also really liked Cassian, he was cute and cheeky and sort of reminded me of how Lucien was in the first book.
As with all of SJM’s books, it was pretty slow moving, it wasn’t until about halfway through or so that we got any decent action scenes. The action scenes when they happen are great, I really was on the edge of my seat, particularly when Amren and Feyre are retrieving the Book, but SJM could really use working on her pacing so it’s more even, at the moment she seems to always do first half slow, second half fast, which doesn’t really work in a 600+ page book. Honestly, it probably could have done with some cutting down, I really don’t think 600+ pages were needed, the important details could probably have been fitted in less.
It also bugs me that everyone has to be mated, even Feyre’s sisters! I get it, SJM likes romance, but I wish not every single character had to have a mate and she just focused on the one main pairing. That might just be me and my cynical heart, but I prefer to have one believable ship than have everyone paired up but not have it be believable. Also in a group of people, there’s bound to be at least one single one right? And no male has a male mate or female has a female mate? I mean I’m pretty sure it’s been established that Fae can have same sex mates, so why haven’t we had one yet?
The whole thing of Rhys (and Feyre) being able to go into other people’s minds made me incredibly uneasy, it just feels wrong to be able to go into people’s heads and manipulate their thoughts.
I liked that we got to see a few more of the different courts in this book, The Night Court and the Summer Court, it was nice to see more of Prythian beyond the Spring Court, though it is still a very white world, aside from Tarquin and the Summer Court, there aren’t any POC characters, which again, doesn’t come across as very believable. The worldbuilding in this book was so much better in the last book, we really get to learn more about Prythian and it’s history and the other courts and their powers and everything which was great and as always, I loved Sarah J Maas’ writing, especially in the Starfall scene, I thought that was particularly beautiful.
I really hate Hybern, I think he’s almost close to tying with Maeve as to my most hated SJM villain, though Jurian was pretty creepy too.
I also don’t love that everyone is made to seem lesser if they aren’t Fae, the humans are less beautiful, less strong etc and so must be worth less than the Fae and I hated that, particularly what happened to Feyre’s sisters, that really bugged me.
The ending! OMG that ending was mean! I need to see what happens in the next book now (although is it me or was the ending to this book and the ending to Empire of Storms kind of similar?). I did find the brief switch to Rhys POV at the end kind of jarring, but I understood why it was necessary.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, I loved the introduction of the new characters, I loved that we got new settings and new villains and the stakes have definitely been raised from ACOTAR. I’m still not entirely convinced of the romance between Feyre and Rhys but I’ve come to accept that I don’t love SJM’s romances and there was enough other good stuff in this, particularly with Feyre’s character development that I didn’t mind so much. I can’t wait to see what happens in the final instalment of the series!
My Rating: 4/5
My next review will be of the second Trials of Apollo book, The Dark Prophecy, by Rick Riordan.