Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR #2)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 624
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Review for book 1

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses was one of my top books of 2015 - possibly even my number one. I have been (not-so-patiently) waiting on A Court of Mist and Fury literally since book one ended and obviously preordered a copy as soon as I could! Upon receiving it in the mail, I quickly started reading but didn't want to read it too quickly. This is one of those books you also want to savor! Especially knowing that I'll have to wait an entire year for the final book in the series. Before I jump into this review, let me say that I do not think Sarah J. Maas can do no wrong. I read the first two books in her Throne of Glass series before giving up on that one. But THIS series... In this series she can do no wrong because every single word of this book was perfection.

This book picks up where the first left off, with Feyre, Tamlin, and Lucien back at the Spring Court working on getting the Court back to its former glory. With all that she has been through, Feyre has been left a shell of her former self. Unfortunately, everyone seems to be more worried about keeping up appearances than making sure their Cursebreaker has what she needs to heal and live with her actions. Where A Court of Thorns and Roses was a love story about a girl risking all to save her Love, A Court of Mist and Fury is a story about a girl learning to respect herself, finding out who she really is after a huge trauma, with a love story weaved in. Feyre's character growth in this novel was incredible. I said in my review of ACOTAR that she was an unlikable character who I came to really love. Now I can honestly say that Feyre is an amazing, strong female character and the kind of role model I wish teens could read more about (as opposed to the weak female characters who allow a man to define them).

As I'm sure you have probably gathered, in this book Rhysand gives Tamlin a run for his money. As the synopsis says, Rhys has not forgotten the bargain he made with Feyre under the mountain and he plans to make good on it. While I did like Tamlin in the first book, I have made it abundantly clear over the last year that I did not know enough about Rhys to choose a "team" and would have to wait until the next book was released to decide. I can now say I am firmly #TeamRhysand at this point and I don't see that changing. Rest assured, there is no love triangle in this book whatsoever, which is a huge relief considering that's what most YA fiction gravitates towards.

Relationship Spoilers
I need to just take a minute here to fangirl over the relationship between Rhysand and Feyre - THIS is what love is. I love so much that Rhys gives Feyre every single bit of room she needs to heal and then some! He allows her to be her own person from the beginning of this book. Yes, he did some despicable things in ACOTAR, but yes, they were justified in this book. Usually I cannot stand the justification of borderline-abusive behavior, but Under the Mountain was a very unique situation and I can fully forgive Rhys for everything he did, especially knowing now that he always knew that they were mated and did literally everything within his power to protect her in the long run.

Now, Tamlin... I know a lot of people have complained that he is totally out of character in this book, but is he really? I did a re-read of ACOTAR right before this came out and I can totally see his extremely controlling tendencies. I believe he had to keep it in check if Feyre was going to break the curse, but he was always extremely controlling of her from the very beginning. Does anyone else remember all the times when he said he just couldn't control himself and had to apologize for things? Does anyone else remember when they were going to have sex and he told her he couldn't stop if they went any further? Bullshit. I think that once Feyre had broken the curse and Tamlin no longer needed her help, he was able to show how extensive his controlling nature went and I, for one, am SO glad that Feyre escaped from him!

And then there's Lucien. I know there are a lot of mixed feelings about Elain being his mate, but I am super excited to see where this goes in the next book! 

I actually loved almost every character in this book, whether I loved them because they were so perfectly wonderful or horrible. The villains are just as terrible as they should be (although Amarantha is going to be damn hard to beat) and the new characters that Feyre aligns herself with grew on me as the story progressed. Surprisingly, I came to like Nesta much more than Elain, which is the exact opposite of how I felt about them in A Court of Thorns and Roses.

One of my favorite things about A Court of Mist and Fury (and honestly, there are so many) was the world building. In book one, we only got to see the Spring Court, Under the Mountain, and the human realm. This time we I got to travel with Feyre all over Prythian and, obviously, my favorite was the Night Court, which was anything but what I expected! Sarah J. Maas' beautiful writing style contributes so much to the love I have for this gorgeous world. I think a lot of other authors would have a really hard time making me care as much as I care about every single location Feyre visits. I'll admit, I usually skim when I get to descriptions of cities and such, but here I took my time to take in every single word on the page.

And then there's the story. Oh, the incredible, beautiful, heart-wrenching story. I loved every single agonizing minute of it. As I've already said, this book is about Feyre discovering who she is after Under the Mountain and she is stronger than anyone realized. There are multiple conflicts for her to deal with - mentally, in her personal relationships, and with a potential war brewing. The journey this book takes over 600+ pages is brutal and extraordinary and heart breaking and I adored it. I was actually a little worried that over 600 pages would be too much, that the story would get bogged down or that it would lag, but it didn't. There wasn't non-stop action, but everything that happened was relevant and I couldn't name anything that served only as filler.

Something to definitely keep in mind is that this book has significantly more sexual content than the first, but I'm totally okay with that. As a 28 year old lover of YA, I was thrilled for the authenticity this little bit of extra explicitness brought to this story. I mean, when characters are talking about marriage and are fighting wars, it's not out of the question that they're probably going to be having more adult relationships. But I do think it's important to point out for those readers who perhaps don't want to read steamier scenes. (I'm sure you could easily skip past them.)

As you can probably tell, I loved this book. I don't have a single bad thing to say about it, which is unusual for me, even when I rate a book five stars. I loved Feyre, I loved Rhysand, and I loved their constant bantering back and forth. I loved that Feyre learned to respect herself. I loved the gorgeous writing and world building and storytelling. I honestly cannot go on without becoming a total fangirl so instead I'll leave you with what I have dubbed Rhysand's theme song (you're welcome):