Title: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA – Fantasy
Published by: Bloomsbury in May 2016
Synopsis on Goodreads:
“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.”
My Thoughts (Will contain SPOILERS – beware!):
Overall I really enjoyed this. It was a vast improvement from A Court of Thorns and Roses and it in no way suffered from second book syndrome. It built and expanded upon the first instalment and had some decent world-building and character development. That being said, I still found myself having one or two issues with the book. But I’ll start with the good.
The world-building was wonderful. Maas is very good at making places and settings come to life. I love how she focused more on the histories and the lore and, to be honest, I found the world fascinating. I would happily pick up some short stories detailing different Fae Courts or maybe even a novella about the war that took place 500 years ago. I think that would be so interesting, to read about Rhys and his Inner Circle when they were still only young. And it’s quite rare that I find myself wanting to consume a fantasy world like that. Where I want to know absolutely everything. Maas has created an intensely compelling world that I could read and read and never get bored of. It felt like fantasy at its most convincing.
I also liked the kind of story it was. A story of self-discovery and growth. At the beginning of the novel, Feyre is suffering with PTSD and trying (and failing) to deal with the events that took place towards the end of ACOTAR. She’s so lost and lonely and doesn’t know how she fits into the world anymore (or if she even wants to). But over the course of the book, she grows and develops and is able to find her strength. And boy does she.
“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.”
I loved the message of this instalment – I felt so empowered whilst reading it. And I felt very proud of Feyre. For going through what she did and coming out of it stronger than ever: she is a true survivor. I really wasn’t keen on Feyre in ACOTAR – she made very stupid decisions to say the least – but Feyre is wonderful here. Truly, a great heroine.
“The power did not belong to the High Lords. Not any longer. It belonged to me-as I belonged only to me, as my future was mine to decide, to forge.”
I also really liked how this book normalised outgrowing people when your needs and desires have changed. And the way Feyre handled these changing needs felt natural and human. She was very self-aware and would evaluate how she was feeling, how she was thinking quite often and I think this in itself shows how far she has come since ACOTAR, specifically how much she has matured and grown. Now she knows exactly who she is and what she stands for and is so driven that she will stop at nothing to fight for what she believes in.
“No one was my master—but I might be master of everything, if I wished. If I dared.”
Feyre’s relationship with Rhys was another high point of this sequel. I absolutely loved the dialogue between them. Their bickering and their flirtations had me snickering throughout. And the mutual love and respect they had for each other was admirable. They were very well equally matched and complimented each other nicely. Obviously, this in no way excuses Rhys’ behaviour in ACOTAR but I do understand the reasoning behind his actions. And he does start to redeem himself as he tries to help Feyre realise not only her potential, but that she is a strong woman and that she should bow to no man. Especially not to him.
“You are no one’s subject.”
“You might be my mate but you remain your own person. You decide your fate-your choices. Not me. You chose yesterday. You choose every day. Forever.”
Their relationship always felt very natural and I appreciated the pace of it. Nothing was rushed – it was a nice, slow build-up of hate turned to love. And it was done in the best of ways. Their banter was always very playful and a lot of fun. I think they’re very well suited and I’m glad that Feyre & Tamlin together is no longer a thing.
“I was a lonely, hopeless person and I might have fallen in love with the first thing that showed me a hint of kindness and safety. And I’m thinking maybe he knew that – maybe not actively, but maybe he wanted to be that person for someone. And maybe that worked for who I was before. Maybe it doesn’t work for who-what I am now.”
Speaking of, Tamlin drove me up the bleeding wall. I felt entirely indifferent towards him in ACOTAR but in this? What a possessive, self-righteous jerk. Clearly he had no respect for Feyre at all and I’m glad she managed to get out of that unhealthy situation quite soon-ish.
“A protector – that’s who he was, and would always be. What I had wanted when I was cold and hard and joyless; what I had needed to melt the ice of bitter years on the cusp of starvation.”
The new characters introduced in this instalment were all incredibly well-rounded, realistic characters with their own distinct personalities and backstories. It felt like a real crew banding together, rather than just Feyre and Rhys up against the world. They each had their own strengths and played well off each other. Their respect, love and loyalty for one another was lovely to read about. Azriel and Morrigan are my new faves.
Lastly, the writing in this book was so unbelievably good. I’ve always been a huge fan of Maas’ writing style and this book in no way disappoints.
“To the people who look at the stars and wish,” – “To the stars who listen—and the dreams that are answered.”
And now for the not so good.
First of all, the sex scenes. Oh God, they were terrible. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading a well-written steamy scene from time to time and I liked the dangerously flirty scenes between Rhys and Feyre. Right up until the last 200 pages that is. Maas can definitely write a swoon-worthy scene and I think her strengths lie in writing about the subtlety of the romance – the back and forth between the characters, the lingering eyes, the tension and the obvious attraction, etc. But when sex was added to the mix, that’s when I started to feel second-hand embarrassment on behalf of the characters involved. They’re just so weird. And really overly-dramatic and unrealistic. I mean, has anyone ever thought the following during a sexual encounter:
“We were a song that had been sung from the very first ember of light in the world.”
Barf. I mean I actually burst out laughing when I read that. Your bodies mushing together isn’t a freaking song Feyre, it’s just sex. Please stop. You’re embarrassing yourself.
What I will say though is that it is definitely nice to see sex explored so openly in a YA (NA?) novel. And Maas definitely doesn’t hold back on any of the extremely vivid (ew) detail. But, that being said, if you’re not 100% sure you can write a good sex scene, here’s a tip: don’t write one. Or several in this case. I’m sure there will be a lot of readers that will enjoy these scenes though and won’t find any problems with them. So it’s definitely a personal tastes thing here. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. At all.
The other thing that kind of bugged me was how, at times, the book felt a little too contrived. I already knew roughly what was going to happen before I’d even started reading it: Rhysand and Feyre would somehow end up together and Rhys would turn out to not be such a bastard after all. I mean, who didn’t see that one coming? We all knew. But I guess I’m just nitpicking now 😂
Overall, a top-notch sequel that prides itself on character development and world-building. A compelling story of self-discovery and strength with a twisty turny plot and gorgeous writing. Very eagerly anticipating the final instalment of the trilogy!