Thursday, April 8, 2021

Book Review: A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses #4)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: February 16, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 757
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Reviews for book 1, book 2, & book 3

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she's struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can't seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre's Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta's orbit. But her temper isn't the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other's arms.

Welcome to another edition of Tracy's unpopular opinions! It isn't a secret around the blog that A Court of Wings and Ruin was my least favorite of the ACOTAR series, at least until A Court of Frost and Starlight. I couldn't even finish that one. Then I tried and failed to read Crescent City. It shouldn't be a surprise then, that I was a little nervous about A Court of Silver Flames. Still, I was excited to see how Nesta and Cassian's story came together. Big yikes. 

This book picks up not too long after ACOFAS, with Nesta drinking away her sorrows and bringing home a new fae male (cringe) every night. I think we can all agree that she needed therapy, but the whole set up for this book - that Rhysand and Feyre gave her an ultimatum of either leaving Prythian or training with Cassian - was kind of gross to me. I understand the concept of tough love, but something about this didn't sit right. This really outlines one of my big issues with Silver Flames: what happened to Super Feminist Rhys? In this book he's constantly threatening women, making decisions for them, keeping secrets to protect them... This ain't it. But I digress. 

I've seen a lot of people say that this book has no plot and is all romance, but honestly I felt like the romance was lacking too. I totally bought Nesta and Cassian in Wings and Ruin, so their love story shouldn't have been a stretch, but something about the way it was written did not work for me. While I did love Cassian, Nesta continued to be a raging bitch throughout the entire book, both to Cassian and those around her. I really could not see what Cassian saw in her.

Then there was the smut. There was so much of it and it wasn't particularly well written, which is surprising because SJM did it pretty well in Mist and Fury. It seemed as if she got clearance to write an adult book and decided to cram as much sex as she possibly could into the second half (because there wasn't much in the first, which was just Nesta moping). She also seemed to think that Nesta and Cassian enjoying things a bit rough was super scandalous, when it was actually just a bit cringeworthy. Although, maybe a lot of her readers would agree based on the shock and awe I've seen over Nesta's one sentence super scandalous fantasy. :/ 

Before this review gets ridiculously long, let's jump into the speed round. I hated the plot set up with Feyre and Rhysand. It was stupid and out of character and created unnecessary drama. I hated the entire ending to the Nesta's training plot point and found it to be utterly nonsensical and required way too much suspension of disbelief. I hated that Nesta was essentially given a free pass for being such an absolutely horrible person to everyone around her. I hated that SJM brought in a paper thin villain and random new mythology that didn't need to exist. I'm also not impressed with Tamlin becoming a literal animal and no one staying to help him overcome HIS trauma. 

It may sound like I totally hated everything about this book, but I honestly didn't. I did really enjoy the treasure hunt feels I got from Silver Flames. I liked the new female characters who befriended Nesta and the further exploration of the library under the House of Wind. Seeing Nesta overcome her trauma was satisfying, although I do wish she'd given a better apology at the end. I really, really loved getting to know Cassian and his backstory better. The House itself was also a really cool addition to the story.

I know that Sarah J. Maas has it in her to write amazing stories and I just don't understand what happened here. There was obviously a lot of potential for a great story in A Court of Silver Flames. Here is an established world and established characters that we already love and I really wish she had done more with it. Instead, her writing style has completely changed from the beginning of the series and the plot has fallen to the wayside to make room for more cringeworthy sex scenes. 

Will I continue the series? Yes. But from here on out I will go into SJM books with low expectations and the understanding that nothing will top the first two.