It’s not often I get to read a series of books in one go, I started with A Court of Thorns and Roses mid-December, swiftly bought A Court of Mist and Fury not long after, then by not even mid January I had finished A Court of Wings and Ruin on my Kindle and A Court of Frost and Starlight came not long after that. This series was an amazing way to close one year and open up another – the intricate world building, fleshed out characters, unreal escapism, this is one of my favourite series of all time. So why not start the first book review of the year with this one! I will be chatting about each book separately – with a plot overview, likes and dislikes (if there was any!), then at the end I will sum up everything in one.
I had A Court of Thorns and Roses on my bookshelf since my birthday and for some reason I was hesitant to read. I’m really glad I ran out of other books and started ACOTAR, it exceeded all my expectations and more. Based loosely on the famous Beauty & the Beast tale, ACOTAR follows Fayre, a young and poor girl from a small village on the edge of a Fae kingdom. Desperate for food to keep her family going over the long Winter ahead, Fayre makes a life altering decision to kill a wolf.. unknown to her this wolf was a disguised Fae and killing one of these creatures comes at a price. Forced into the Fae’s world under the command of a High Lord named Tamlin, Fayre learns of the real reason behind why she is in the new land and how she can help save it.
Sarah J. Maas has an amazing skill of world building, the human realm and the Fae realm were both described so well it was like watching a TV show in my brain. Also the plot was well thought out and I did not expect all the twists and turns this title made. Her characters were quite well fleshed out too, Feyre is a great heroine.. flawed and impulsive, but she seemed very real and brave. Lucien was the comic relief, at first I didn’t think too much of him but he turned out to be a great right hand man for Tamlin. Rhysand was by far the biggest surprise character, introduced as a self-absorbed asshole, but soon you find out that everything he does is for a reason (and I might have a slight book crush him..). The big bad of the book wasn’t a disappointment, she was literally evil incarnated, however I do wish she was around more in the book. The only character that was a bit bland was Tamlin, introduced as a dream-like, handsome, golden haired and skin High Fae.. but that’s all he ever was. He didn’t seem to have as much character development as the other characters, sometimes coming off super perfect for no reason. However I’ve never been a fan of the prince-like male characters anyway, I like the more edgy men (explains my weirdo crush on Rhysand haha), so maybe it’s just me being judgemental! There is a few sex scenes in this book that were described as quite raunchy, but I thought they were pretty tame for a book not quite labelled as YA but not quite Adult Fantasy. Hoping for some more nitty gritty scenes in the next book!
“We need hope, or else we cannot endure.”
A Court of Mist and Fury had me crying, laughing and totally absorbed in this fantasy realm. Following the fairy tale retelling theme, ACPMAF was loosely based off of the Greek Mythology tale of Persephone and Hades. Fayre survived her harrowing time under Amarantha’s rule and is back in the Spring Court, but she is not the same girl that went Under the Mountain. Now a Fae with the powers of all the High Lords, Fayre is struggling with the acts she had to commit to survive and free Prythian. Just as life in the Spring Court gets fractured, Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court cashes in on the bargain he made with Fayre and whisks her to his lands – leaving Fayre to choose what she really wants and how she will save herself and her new life from the evil that awaits.
Normally sequels are never as good as the first, but this second book in the series blew the first off of it’s pedestal. Sarah J. Maas pulled out all the stops for this novel, we get to see more of the other courts and it’s inhabitants and loose ties were flattened out. One of the best things about this book was the new characters that were introduced – fierce Morrigan, mysterious Amren, hilarious warrior Cassian and reserved Azriel. How they all interact together and with Fayre and Rhys was beautiful to read. We get to meet some of the High Lords properly, mostly the Summer Court high lord Tarquin, which made me want to holiday in the Summer Court, it sounded a lot like a city on a beautiful Greek island. The biggest surprise was how stunning the main city in the Night Court, Valeris, was written, it sounds to me like a mix between Amsterdam and bigger towns in England – utterly breathtaking, I want a one way ticket there please. The one thing that will keep you reading though, is the interaction between Feyre and Rhys, oh my, it had me on the edge of my seat with anticipation! ACOMAF did what other fantasy novels don’t, it didn’t glorify controlling relationships. *SPOILER* Fayre ends up with Rhys, not Tamlin, and thank Sarah J Maas for that. Fayre is Rhys’ equal, as he specified many a times in this book and the next, not his subject. Rhysand is everything you want in a male character and more, on the outside he is beautiful, a bad boy and horribly misunderstood. But underneath is a heart of gold, unrelenting loyalty to his friends and court and his selflessness will have you swooning –sigh-.
I moaned about the sex scenes in the last book and hoped for better ones next time, and oh my, did this book deliver. The sexual tension between Fayre and Rhys was unbearable, then it did not disappoint when the moment finally arrived, oh my, it was something else!
“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.”
A Court of Wings and Ruin unfortunately was not as good as it’s sequel, don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fantastic novel but with the whole ‘will they, won’t they’ mystery gone the book is a bit more focused on politics and war.
ACOWAR showcases Prythian on the edge of war with Hybern and to get a foot up in the war Fayre returns to the Spring Court to keep tabs on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings. The war challenges loyalties between each High Lord, their courts and unexpected allies.
I’d say around 40% of the book was mostly filler, the stakes only really got ramped up after 50% of the book had already been read. The final battle was the best part of the book, it was heartbreaking to see how war affects people (even mythical faeries) and to what lengths people will go to win, even if it means sacrificing everything. However, although this part of the book was the best, it didn’t go on long enough, everything happened way too quickly. Also, the stakes didn’t feel that high, there wasn’t that many losses and there didn’t seem many consequences to the character’s actions – which makes the book quite unrealistic – even for a book full of magic and faeries.
It’s not all doom and gloom though! The character development of all the main characters is amazing, you really get to see all parts of their personality, backstories and life. It’s amazing to have a book full of strong male leads who don’t overshadow the woman, the woman fight just as well as the men in the battles, the woman get involved in politics and when one male tries to shut a woman down, everyone shuts them down instead. It’s nice to see some progress in YA novels, woman CAN do most things a man can do, and vice versa. We also get to see all the High Lords together, we get to meet some of their families and courts, and hear some of their backstories – this is what I’ve been waiting for from the last two books. Also, douchbag lord Tamlin *ahem*, I mean High Lord Tamlin, had a nice ending in this book. The ending of the story showed that he isn’t a complete ass, he just has a lot of issues that he needs to sort out and ultimately, he wants Fayre to be happy.
“Light can be found in even the darkest of hells. That kindness can thrive even amongst cruelty.”
Last but not least, A Court of Frost and Starlight. I didn’t think I’d like this book as it’ not as nitty gritty as the previous instalments, but actually, it was really nice seeing what normal life is like for Fayre, Rhys and the gang.
A Court of Frost and Starlight carries on right from where A Court of Wings and Ruin left. After the intense battle with Hybern, Feyre, Rhysand and their circle are back in Velaris trying to rebuild the Night Court. The Night Court’s biggest holiday, the Winter Solstice, is finally upon them, but with a big holiday brings a whole lot of drama which High Lady Fayre is determined to overcome.
It was finally so nice to see Fayre interact with the inhabitants of Valeris, we get to see and hear about shop keepers, the Illyrian warriors and the normal civilians of the city. It really brought Valeris to life, and I certainly would want to live there if this story was real life. The best thing about the book, and what made it so real, was how Nesta’s trauma was handled. Nesta seemed to fall in to a deep depression, shutting herself off to her family and drinking herself in to oblivion – which is what can happen to a lot of people.
ACOFAS could have been made in to a proper book rather than a novella as there was so many loose threads still not tied by the end of the book, however Maas included a snippet of the next book at the end of this one that looks like it will tie up some of the story – exciting!
I’m giving this instalment only 3.5 stars as it wasn’t as long as the other novels so it didn’t seem fair to give it a high rating as not much happened.. but it was still a good read and has got me exciting for the next book which seems to focus more on Cassian and Nesta.
“You make me so very happy. My life is happy, and I will never stop being grateful that you are in it.”
I really did love this series, it brought me back to the fantasy/supernatural genre that I’ve been avoiding since I read the Mortal Instruments series a couple of years back. It was action packed, full of character background and the world building was perfect, I felt like I was right there in Prythian with everyone.
Fayre is a strong lead character who had growth throughout the series, she is a great role model for the younger generation and she makes me want to keep fighting the injustices in our world. Rhys is the male lead that all YA novels should strive for: he is loyal, strong willed, fun and ultimately didn’t treat Fayre as a trophy wife, she was his equal. All the secondary characters were interesting in the own way and the author really showcased their back stories and made them real, I am very much looking forward to finding out more about each character in the other novellas she is releasing in the future.