Review: A Court of Mist and Fury

Anyone else have a love/hate relationship with unfinished series? Cliffhangers should practically be illegal. I didn’t love the first book in this series by Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses, but after reading the second book, A Court of Mist and Fury, it’s going to be a long and difficult wait until the next book comes out in May. Check out my thoughts on ACOTAR here, or read below to find out why ACOMAF is so much more appealing.

acourtofmistandfuryAbout the book: After Amarantha pushed Feyre and Tamlin to their breaking points, the two returned to the Spring Court only to discover that more thorns are apparent there in the aftermath than roses. Still, Feyre can’t forget that her life and relationship were hard-won and remains loyal to the dreams of the girl she was before; Tamlin is more determined than ever to protect her at any cost–even if the consequences are further damaging to Feyre. Rhysand, however, steps in to call in his bargain and removes Feyre to the Night Court just in time to disrupt an event that Feyre cannot be sure whether to call a colossal problem or much-needed solution. At the Night Court, Feyre meets Rhys’s Inner Circle and begins to realize there are aspects of life she’s been missing: friendship, most importantly. As the threats from Hybern grow more worrisome and Feyre spends more and more time with the prominent men and women of the Night Court, she becomes once again entangled in a plot to save Prythian and, to her surprise, learns to love all over again.

” ‘And then–then I learned your name.  Hearing you say it…it was like an answer to a question I’d been asking for five hundred years.’ “

A comparison: I love a good retelling, and I love Beauty and the Beast, but I think the expectations between that familiar fairy tale and A Court of Thorns and Roses held that first book back. The characters felt like they’d been dropped into roles that didn’t quite fit them, making their actions and emotions clash at times. But in A Court of Mist and Fury, Maas doesn’t bother trying to fit Feyre’s story to any tale that’s been told before, which allows the characters to develop individually and strengthens the plot. The series has changed from a pre-arranged story laid over bland characters to an exciting cast of strong characters who use powerful voices to make their own story heard.

(Update: I was wrong. I’ve realized that A Court of Mist and Fury is based on the mythological story of Hades and Persephone, but even after seeing those overlapping elements I stand by my opinion that ACOMAF eventually veers off the fairy tale path to find its own strong voice.)

In this book, the reader is given all but one chapter in the familiar first person point of view from Feyre’s perspective. That one chapter comes way at the end, and gives the reader a brief glimpse of Rhys’s mind. There were so many points in this book that I thought would have been fabulous to see from another character’s point of view, and then to have that one chapter dangled in the reader’s view toward the end was beyond frustrating. Clearly Maas knew how to make the story work through other perspectives. Clearly she knew it was needed. Why didn’t we have that richness of multiple perspectives earlier in the book? That, and the resolution of some of those sentence fragments would be the only possible way to make this story stronger–and any more strength might truly destroy ACOetc’s readers. All of the emotions are here. They surge to immense proportions in the last third of the book, and then cut the reader off completely as he or she is abruptly forced to wait for the publication of the third book to resolve some of those dangling, heart-throbbing plot threads. Maas’s characters shout their devastation and love into the reader’s very soul with beautiful prose and unshakable power.

“We were a song that had been sung from the very first ember of light in the world.”

My reaction: 5 out of 5 stars. By the time I reached the final hundred pages, I just knew there were too many plot threads to be resolved neatly by the end of the book, and the end would leave me hanging. Sure enough, as soon as I finished the book I had to rush online to find the release date of the next book, silently cursing myself for neglecting to time my adventures into A Court of Mist and Fury closer to the expected publication date of A Court of Wings and Ruin (May 2, 2017 for anyone who’s curious). I’m so much more invested in all of the characters–even the evil ones–now than I was at the end of the first book, and I suspect that there will be several more impatient waiting periods for me before all six books of this series have been finished. This book renewed my faith in Maas’ writing, maybe even enough that I’ll try picking up the Throne of Glass series. That one, at least, is closer to completion, and if I time my reading better, I could manage to reach its publication date at just the right time to finish the series without all this bottled anticipation that I’ll have stewing now until May. I’ll just have to read more books to take my mind off the wait. I’m looking forward to delving into some other fantasy sets soon. I have a couple of things in mind, but…any suggestions?

P.S. A Court of Mist and Fury just won Goodreads’s 2016 award for best young adult fantasy!

Further recommendations:

  1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown is another great new series that walks the line between YA and adult. It’s borderline sci-fi/fantasy, but if you love Maas’ world building, you’ll certainly enjoy Brown’s. The characters, of course, are to die for. Follow Darrow, the lowly Red, as he seeks freedom from the dangerous hierarchy of Golds on Mars, or learn more in my complete review of this book here.
  2. Reading ACOMAF really reminded me of how I wanted to reread and finally finish Cassandra Clare’s books. Clary must learn all about the magical world that’s been hidden from her before it’s too late for her old and new friends to escape the broad cross hairs targeted broadly over Clary’s life. If you like well-spun tales of monsters and romance, start with Cassandra’s City of Bones and check out the rest of her fantastic Shadowhunters books in publication order.

Coming up Next: I’ve already finished Fairest by Marissa Meyer, but it seemed more like a novella and I really didn’t like it, so I think I’ll give it a mention when I review Winter rather than write an entire bad review. Bad reviews feel unfair–someone somewhere probably likes that book, but it isn’t me. So I’m currently reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater, the third book in the Raven Cycle. I am on a roll with my reading this month, so I should have a review ready shortly. Check back soon to find out what new excitements this series reveals as I near the end!

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

Update: Check out my thoughts on the next book in these series, A Court of Wings and Ruin!

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