Last week, I did a guest post on Imaginary Book Club with a review of A Court of Thorns and Roses and discussed my general impressions of the book. This week, with my review of the sequel I thought I might do a little list because lists are fun. Or I think so anyway. And I’m sure all the people with short attention spans will enjoy this.
Overall, I enjoyed A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMAF) but there were definitely some things that irked me, or tainted the experience somewhat. So even though I have a four-star rating, I think it’s good to give an equal interpretation and so I have a list of 10: 5 pros and 5 cons.
10 Things I Loved and Hated about A Court of Mist and Fury…
The book in which Feyre becomes extra badass
In the first book, it took a long time for Feyre’s badassery to come out. It was pretty cool when she killed the wolf in the beginning, but from then on it’s just a lot of her being wary and mistrusting. And nothing particularly badass occurs until she’s Under the Mountain.
But in ACOMAF, Feyre starts to take control of her life and becomes more assertive. And more than just being assertive, she also comes to realize when she’s being treated poorly and tries to take control of her life. She’s not super successful in the beginning, but she gets better as she goes on. And by the end of the book I was nodding with satisfaction at just how cool she became.
Intro to a cast of characters with actual back bones
Lucien is… well… I feel badly for him, but he’s kind of terrible as a friend because he constantly has to worry about upsetting Tamlin. As so it’s fantastic to see the cast of characters at the Night Court because they’re indepedent and while they serve Rhysand, they aren’t his subjects. They don’t ever have to worry about being punished because they go against his word to help Feyre. They’re free to be real friends to her in a way that Lucien can’t. So it was good to see her make friends with people that could whole-headedly have her back.
Getting hot and steamy…
Remember the occassional sex scene in the first book? Now there’s more. And I suspect they’ve gotten more graphic. But honestly, I’m eating them up. I don’t typically read books with erotica scenes in them since I mostly read YA (and honestly I don’t want to read about underage kids getting down and dirty so I’m happier for it), so it’s kind of refreshing to read a book that does.
I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m appreciative of it. I also felt like there was a good mix of crudge and romantic language. Sometimes books romanticise sex scenes to the point where you want to roll your eyes. Or otherwise it can be so graphic that you want to hold your hand to your heart and say “oh, my.” But I think ACOMAF had a good mix of both.
Depiction of mental illness and coping
There’s a few things the characters struggle with in this book. Feyre, Tamlin, and Rhysand are all recovering from what looks very much like post-traumatic stress in their own ways. For Tamlin, this means becoming more controlling. For Feyre, it’s drawing into herself and burying her feelings. And for Rhysand, well… to be honest, he kind of seemed to be doing alright. Which seemed due, in large part, to the support system he has around him. Something that both Tamlin and Feyre lack.
I liked seeing the different ways the terrible events Under the Mountain affected the characters in their own way, exactly the way that the same mental illness can affect people differently. On top of that, I would also say that Feyre seems to be going through some depression regarding her relationship with Tamlin after coming back from the mountain. The events have changed things between them, and that’s hard to come to terms with.
You see a lot of instances of Feyre blaming herself for Tamlin being angry or frustrated which I found harrowing of real situations. Victim blame isn’t just something that people do to each other, it’s often something someone does to themselves. And I liked seeing Feyre move from that to understanding that she was mistreated.
Exploring the world
We get to see sooooo much more than the Spring Court in this book. They go to different places within the realms, and even to the human one. I loved seeing all the descriptions of the places, even if it was difficult to follow sometimes. I especially liked seeing Feyre interact with people from other courts and the common/lesser faeries. I think it’s a very rich world that’s been built up and I’m excited to hear more about it in the future.
That Rhysand never apologized
I spoke about this before, but while Under The Mountain Rhysand is rough with Feyre (twists her injuried hand when he gets frustrated) and binds her in a contract. The contract is a plot point and wasn’t upsetting to me. What was, was the way Feyre was dressed up scantily, paraded around, and drugged night after night. But as a reader, you’re supposed to be okay with this because he’s doing it all to help her. And I SOOOO wasn’t.
In ACOMAF, Rhysand admits to a lot of guilt about those times and what he did. After all, he was raped/forced into sex himself and paraded around by Amanantha on a daily basis for years. And yet, he never outright apologizes to Feyre. He implies an apology, but it never happens. And Feyre is just fine with that and forgives him no problem. I wasn’t cool with it.
Rhysand is meant to be a feminist character because he encourages Feyre to make her own choices and never forces her to do anything she doesn’t want to. Which is great, better than Tamlin anyway. But an implied apology isn’t enough. And I don’t really like the message that sends to readers. I think it should have been made explicitly clear, by Rhysand, that his behaviour was wrong and that he was sorry for it.
Tamlin had to be a villain for Feyre to move on
One thing I loved about this book was how it showed that your first love doesn’t have to be your forever love. I think there’s a lot of YA romance that paints a picture where the first person you seriously date is the person you’re with forever. Which just isn’t true. And it’s unrealistic.
The difficulty I had with ACOMAF is that Tamlin had to be made into a villain for this to be okay. Would the idea of Feyre just falling out of love with him have been so terrible? It almost seems to suggest that you need an excuse to lose interest in someone you loved before. And I kind of felt annoyed that a well-loved character struggling with some of the same issues of loss as Feyre was painted as a villain.
Why? So we wouldn’t judge her for being ‘flighty?’ Because that would be our immediate reaction? It was a great opportunity to present the ‘radial’ idea that people can fall out of love with each other, even if they’re both good people, and it was lost.
Unrealistic Special Snowflake Syndrome
This book started to feel like fanfiction after a bit because of how super special everyone was. Every main/supporting character introduced seemed to have a special skill that made them extra impressive. And then things that were supposed to be rare, started popping up all over the place. It felt like they would solemnly say “this is a special magical gift not seen in years” and then suddenly 3 main characters had it. Like… what?
And don’t even get me started on Feyre. She’s the most special snowflake of all. To her credit, she’s not amazing at everything, still needs help, and isn’t perfect at everything she tries. For me, she just had too many powers, abilities and special things going on. It started to feel awfully God-mode.
The mysterious case of the disappearing plot
Plot? What plot? They spend the entire book getting ready to fight the King Hybern, or at least very nearly the entire book. I got maybe 90% in, and they still hadn’t gotten to his castle. This is a massive book. This book has 640 pages. Ruminate on that for a bit. 640 pages. And they only actually meet the enemy they’re fightining in something like the last 5% of the book.
And let me tell you, the meeting is painfully anti-climatic. That’s what 600 odd-some pages of build up were for. And the King’s forces attack them a few times but it’s never particularly threatening. The book is great, even without much connection to the plot, but if you were looking for an epic show-down, it’s not in this book. Maybe in the finale?
A world where everyone is beautiful and young
I have heard from other people complaints about the lack of diversity in this book. I thought there was a bit more diversity in ACOMAF as the high lord of the Summer Court is black (I think?) and they explored the lesser faeries a tiny bit more so you could learn about how cool they look. I still can’t tell if Rhysand is just tanned or if he actually has dark skin. Otherwise, it seemed like everyone was fair skinned. It would be nice to see more racial diversity, hopefully in the second book.
I was upset somewhat about the amount of value placed on physical appearance in general. What annoyed me especially, was that some fae were beautiful DESPITE their scars, instead of beautiful, period. Lucien is still handsome despite his eye. Azriel is beautiful despite the scars on his hands. And the lesser fae are lesser because they have ‘strange’ appearances. I wished Feyre fought against this more and made friends with a lesser fae. They have talks about how they want them to be equal, but no one seems to practice what they preach. I just wanted some appreciation of different physical appearances.
What’s something you loved and/or hated about A Court of Mist and Fury? Do you think you’ll read this if you haven’t gotten to it? Or if there’s any points you agree or disagree with, feel free to share.