A Court of Mist and Fury
Sarah J Maas
I read until 4.30 in the morning to finish this book, from about halfway through when I realised that there was no way I was putting it down again until I knew how it ended. Even if I had to be up at 8.30. Even though in reality all I got was three hours of disturbed sleep, and had to drive for an hour to get to the expo I was supposed to attend, to buy the new summer book releases for my bookstore. Because when I went to bed, and when I got up, and even now that I am on the verge of collapsing (at 18:00), I look at my bleary eyes in the mirror and say to myself. Worth it. Full-on worth it. I have never not loved a book by Sarah J Maas, the kind where you wordlessly press it to your chest because you can’t let it go and you have no words. It’s why it is taking me so long to write this review.
I grew up loving fairytales, and I still have a fair collection of them at home. When I transitioned into reading books (in just about any genre), I missed them a bit. So as I encountered Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest, a retellng of the girl with the swan brothers, I dove into its story. And I remember fondly how pivotal that experience turned out to be. Because I saw reality behind my once-beloved fairytales. Consequences that did not vanish when it ended. Where there was no true happy ending, only partly, only for some. The truth in the fantastical, how they do translate to our own world, our own feelings, it propelled me into fantasy reading and into studying it during my Literary Sciences degree. For me, Sarah J Maas revisits the same thing with this series in a way that continually blows my mind, in such fresh and new ways that is blows my mind even after I put down the book five days ago.
Sarah took the story of Beauty and the Beast in A Court of Thorns and Roses and showed us how real and gritty it can be made. Even if it is still lovely, waking a girl up from her ice cold slumber in perpetual spring, and lifting the curse of the beast to free magic once again. But there is the second half, packed with action and questions on who to trust. You follow Feyre’s love for Tamlin, and you see everything she does and sacrifices for that love. To the point where she herself questions: was it truly worth it?
That is what A Court of Mist and Fury is all about. Her experiences changed Feyre, and she is not the person who thought that this particular love could conquer all. She needs different things in the wake of what happened, different than she would have had had it never happened. And it is brought to us in such a real, believable way. Feyre changes profoundly, more than most characters in books do, but it is remains very true to nature. That is what I love about Sarah J Maas’ books. She is exceptional in this sort of thing. When I started reading A Throne of Glass, I am a bit ashamed to admit I wasn’t really into it. I liked the ending enough to continue with the second one, and then it grew on me. Now, after having finished the fourth novel in that series, I want to climb into it and live there. As I want to with A Court of Mist and Fury. The journey Aelin makes is very different from that of Feyre, and the women too are not alike. I doubt they would be friends. Yet both are fascinating and compelling, and they grow in similar ways.
It does not end there. The other characters are as well drawn. The interrelations make every pairing compelling, if it are just two of them or the entire group. And those quirks radiate from who a person is, rather than devised to propel the plot forwards. A character, of course, is a choice by the author, but what I mean to say is that Sarah J Maas’ characters are so well put together, that what they do flows naturally from how they were created. Nothing anyone does seems out of character, no matter how different it may be from what we have come to expect. I mean Tamlin, of course, but also Chaol in A Throne of Glass. I never felt his hang-ups about Aelin were meant to put up roadblocks in the story. Rather that it was just his personal journey to plough through despite the storyline wanting him to do something different.
And I wanted to be friends with all of them. Rhysand’s Inner Circle made me feel like home as much as they did Feyre. Authors with a strong, female lead character usually have difficulty writing in other strong female characters. They are usually friends with men or in a men’s world, and women are mostly enemies. You find none of that here, with Mor and Amren. I think Sarah J Maas learned how to do it when she put Lysandra into A Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), and continues it in A Court of Mist and Fury. I especially want to hang out with Mor for a night on the town very badly.
Although I wrote about loving fairytales and how A Court of Thorns and Roses brought me that, A Court of Mist and Fury takes us beyond, having claimed the story entirely for itself. And what a story it is. I usually consider the second book weaker than the first, but here, I love it more. I love how they can be very different if you want to describe them to an outsider, but also how they just work together as two halves of one whole. You understand that this is how the story must go, and without knowing it, this was how you want the story to go. And the ending. I did not see it coming, but I loved it all. The sacrifice Feyre once again makes of her own accord shows that she isn’t broken anymore, and still believes that love makes the difference. And I am seriously jumping up and down with excitement to have Nesta forced to spend time with the Inner Circle. I have always adored Nesta, her unapologetic ruthlessness. It promises so much for the third novel, which will unfortunately tie up this story.
I must resign to the fact that authors need at least a year to complete a new book in a series, and the wait is worth it, but when I read books this good, I want to stay with them. So although I have a lot to read, I am seriously considering throwing everything aside and reading not only both books in A Court of Thorns and Roses, but also the Throne of Glass series. I don’t want to leave these people, nor this superb writing. Sarah J Maas, after being only somewhat into A Throne of Glass, you are now one of my three favourite authors. Because you can never have just one, I found, when you fangirl about fantasy novels.