Thursday, May 19, 2016
Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Title: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 4 Stars
Note: There are mild spoilers for A Court of Thorns and Roses in this review but there are NO SPOILERS for A Court of Mist and Fury (the current book). Only brief spoilers of the last novel. You can read my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses HERE.
I didn't expect to enjoy this novel. While I thought A Court of Thorns and Roses was a vast improvement over Maas's debut, Throne of Glass, I wasn't a die-hard fan. The former was a re-telling of "Beauty and the Beast" with a romance that was simply too easy. Tamlin never charmed me, despite his kindness towards Feyre, but I'll admit to being curious about A Court of Mist and Fury, if only because I was fascinated by the after-effects of Feyre breaking Tamlin's curse. This sequel is darker and far more mature than A Court of Thorns and Roses. Feyre isn't a human girl trapped in a faerie court; she's Fey herself, powerful beyond measure and terrified of her past.
I always find that there is a fine line between fantasy and realistic fiction. So many circumstances which are serious and deeply worrying in realistic fiction can be explained away by magic or otherworldly nature in fantasy and I've always been wary of this. Feyre and Tamlin are both suffering from PTSD, of sorts, following their escape from Amarantha's court. While they are very much in love, their fears of the past manifest themselves in different ways. Essentially, this means that Tamlin refuses to let Feyre leave his court, trapping her within the walls of the Spring Court and keeping her in the dark regarding the war brewing outside their borders. After killing innocent lives to save Tamlin, Feyre knows that she is capable of unspeakable things and Tamlin's behavior--his refusal to see reason and give her freedom--causes her to spiral. Their relationship is volatile, full of emotional abuse and depression so if you're a fan of Tamlin, likely you'll hate him by the end of this novel. It's hard to watch and it often made me uncomfortable, if only because it's difficult to discuss issues such as PTSD, depression, or abuse within the context of a fantasy novel with egotistical males and magic free-flowing.
Thankfully, Rhys arrives to whisk Feyre away to his court, making sure that she upholds her side of the bargain. And Rhys is an absolute sweetheart. You can tell that he cares for Feyre, deeply, and as the two spend more and more time together, we grow to see that Rhys is a far different being than who we met in A Court of Thorns and Roses. I want to make it clear that though the synopsis hints at a love triangle, there is absolutely not one at all. Feyre breaks ties with Tamlin when she joins Rhys's court and their romance is a slow-burn. It isn't the main purpose of the plot and I appreciated that, but nevertheless the growing relationship between Feyre and Rhys is important and beautifully written. I fell hard for their love story and will admit to have been converted to a die-hard shipper. Oops!
Rhys's court is complex and stunning. Readers are in for a series of surprises when it comes to this High Lord and I enjoyed uncovering all his layers, not to mention meeting his close friends and becoming attached to them, as well. The secondary characters are all well-developed and Maas effortlessly expands her host of characters. It is often difficult to develop a love for more than a couple of secondary characters after their absence in the first novel but Maas doesn't struggle with this at all. We also re-visit Feyre's sisters and I enjoyed witnessing those relationships grow and change, shift and be re-built.
The plot of A Court of Mist and Fury is fascinating and edge-of-your-seat worthy. The Fey lands are on the brink of war and Amarantha's court was only the beginning. The world-building is vastly expanded upon in this novel as we travel beyond the Spring Court, not only to visit Rhys's court but others as well. Moreover, as Feyre tests the extent of her new powers, she makes new friends (and enemies) along the way.
This novel is just so good at striking that perfect balance between characterization and plot--I've come away from this utterly in love with all of the characters but also unable to stop turning the plot points in my mind, searching for clues I might have missed. Truly, this is an incredible improvement upon Maas's previous novel in this series and I am so glad I gave this series another shot. The romance is butterfly-inducing, the plot is complex and compelling, the characters are well-developed and deep, and the ending is a torment but not in the same way a cliffhanger is. All I know is that I'll be pre-ordering the sequel when it becomes available because I just have to know how this is going to end. A Court of Thorns and Roses may not have impressed but this sequel more than made up for that--tenfold.