Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Reading format: Kindle e-book
Content warnings: gore, sex, suggestions of rape, fighting, trauma
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This book was a slow, exquisite burn. It teased me and left me longing for more. There was sorrow, desperation, longing, questioning, soul-searching, relief, and betrayal. The second book in Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, A Court of Mist and Fury returns us to the Spring Court after Feyre has endured three terrible trials and defeated Amarantha during her time spent Under the Mountain.
Feyre has broken Amarantha’s curse and restored the High Lords’ powers. She died in the process only to return as a High Fae granted by the powers of the High Lords. However, the trials Feyre endured have taken their toll and broken her spirit. As her marriage to Tamlin draws nearer she finds herself torn between fulfilling her fairy tale romance and upholding the bargain she made with Rhysand, the feared High Lord of the Night Court. As Feyre tries to navigate her life in the aftermath of trauma, she finds solace and rebirth in the one place she least expects. However, an evil greater than Amarantha looms. Realizing she might be able to stop it, she must first heal her broken heart and soul, determine where her loyalties lie, and rediscover her strong sense of self and independence.
While I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury left me preoccupied after I finished it. It’s been a long time since I found a fantasy book that I couldn’t stop thinking about after finishing it. I love that we’re privy to Feyre’s thoughts as she navigates through life after death, struggling to reckon with the horrible deeds she committed to save Tamlin. We see her slowly synthesize and accept, as much as she can, what happened Under the Mountain.
I also love the story line of this book because it made me feel so many different emotions. I appreciate that Feyre didn’t just “bounce back” after enduring such hardship Under the Mountain. Maas did due diligence to exploring Feyre’s (and others’) emotions after their ordeals. As with writing about trauma, Sarah J. Maas also does a phenomenal job at building and holding the tension between characters. She does it so well I wondered if she just might wait until the next book to fulfill our romantic wishes.
Another aspect of this second installment that I really enjoyed was the world-building of the fae lands beyond the wall. Without giving away too many details, we learn the history of some of the High Lords and what their roles were during the war, visit new courts, and are introduced to new characters who help Feyre learn to enjoy life again.
I give it a solid four stars out of five, only because I think the writing needs to be a little more sophisticated. While the writing style is not elaborate or elegant, it has improved since A Court of Thorns and Roses. I personally would prefer to see less colloquial phrases used. I noticed Maas tends to use the same adjectives when describing similar scenes, and the same insults. But overall I recommend this book, especially if you’re looking to switch into a different genre/world for some time.
For more of my thoughts on A Court of Misty and Fury that contain spoilers, keep reading below!
More Thoughts (not spoiler-free):
After I finished this book I perused through some of the reviews and comments about it on Goodreads. I noticed that some readers felt like Maas completely steamrolled Tamlin to satisfy fans’ desire to see Rhysand and Feyre together. I picked these books up several years after they were originally published, so I don’t know what readers’ initial reactions were to A Court of Thorns and Roses (e.g., Team Tamlin vs. Team Rhysand) and/or if that had any influence on Maas’s decision to write Rhysand permanently into Feyre’s life.
That said, I don’t think Maas necessarily “did Tamlin dirty.” While I didn’t mind Tamlin in A Court of Thorns and Roses, I distinctly remember thinking to myself that I didn’t 100% like him because of his temper and unwillingness to listen to advice. He already had some qualities that made me cautious about him. Then, throw in all of the trauma associated with Amarantha (a 50-year curse, Under the Mountain) and I understand why Tamlin acted the way he did in A Court of Mist and Fury.
I’m not a psychologist, but there are many different ways people react to trauma. There’s Rhysand, who didn’t come out unscathed, but who kept trudging valiantly along, the love for his family and people keeping him going. Then there’s Tamlin, who became paralyzed with helplessness Under the Mountain and, after it was all over, that feeling manifested itself into controlling Feyre because it’s something he had power over. Was I frustrated with Tamlin’s lack of action Under the Mountain? Yes, but I understand why he did it. And finally there’s Feyre, who’s also dealing with post traumatic stress (like Tamlin) and, after she’d been confined for three months, couldn’t bear Tamlin’s controlling behavior. She needed to be in a freeing environment, whereas Tamlin, who also needed time to heal, was smothering her.
Sure, Maas could have written a subdued, but understanding Tamlin in A Court of Mist and Fury. But Tamlin already had some frustrating qualities (e.g., easily angered, stubborn, unwilling to listen). I think events Under the Mountain enhanced these attributes, as well as his passion and drive to protect those he cares about, resulting in a controlling environment.
Personally, I happened to really enjoy the development of Rhysand’s and Feyre’s relationship. Rhysand gives Feyre her space, but also engages with her to make sure she’s ok. He always emphasizes that she has a choice and will never force her into anything. Ultimately their relationship ends up built off of trust, friendship, good communication, and respect. I found the scene where Rhysand tells Feyre his whole backstory in the cabin very touching. Maybe sometimes I enjoy a little trope of destiny, if done well.
If you want to discuss more, leave a comment!