I was skeptical when I first started this book. I’d seen enough comments on Goodreads and Instagram to know that some serious relationship changes occur. Based on what happened in the first book and the fact that I didn’t really love A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR), I thought I’d hate the changes. I was ready to feel rage.
I could NOT have been more wrong. A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMAF) might be SJM’s best book. SJM wrapped me around her little finger for the entirety of ACOMAF, and I loved every manipulative second of it. She can play with my emotions all she wants when it comes to Rhysand.
Warning: Spoilers about the romantic relationships in the series are below, but there are no other plot spoilers.
After escaping from Amarantha, Feyre returns to the Spring Court to live her new immortal life with Tamlin. Life isn’t easy for her - she lives in dread of Rhysand calling in their bargain, Tamlin doesn’t understand her need to recover from the trama she faced, and the magical world is still under threat. Feyre can save the world, but first she must control her gifts and discover the truth about her bond with Rhysand.
It’s been awhile since a book mentally consumed me like this.
ACOMAF focused on Feyre’s PTSD and how Rhysand, not Tamlin, helped her heal. The plot was secondary to the romance. Pretty much everything that happened was designed to build up the tension between Feyre and Rhysand, so I’m not going to bother discussing the events of the book except to say there were plenty of entertaining twist and turns. It also ended in a typical Maas cliffhanger that took me by surprise.
There was a little bit of the asshole Rhysand from ACOTAR, but slowly the other sides to his character came to the surface. The more I learned about him the more I wanted him to get with Feyre, and SJM finally delivered. Their relationship had such an emotionally satisfying buildup and conclusion that I was mentally squealing…a lot.
To compare this to Throne of Glass, Rhysand was to Rowan as Tamlin was to Chaol. Sarah J Maas enjoys creating a ship only to gleefully catch it on fire and wave as it sinks. I liked Rhysand the best of those four characters, though. Rhys didn’t drool over Feyre constantly like Rowan did Aelin; Rhys and Feyre had a much more mature relationship. Rhys was beautiful, strong, sarcastic, and even though he was essentially perfect he didn’t get on my nerves. He had just enough of an edge to keep him feeling real.
Don’t get me wrong, it does frustrate me that Maas can only end relationships by having the ex become a complete asshole. She butchered Tamlin in this novel and left nothing good about him. I know many people hated the Tamlin to Rhysand switch, and believe me I get it, because I knew that would happen and I mentally steeled myself to hate it...but I didn’t. It’s not like Feyre fell for the complete asshole Rhysand. She fell for the full picture of Rhysand that we didn’t see until the second book. (I do wish ACOMAF had addressed the arm twisting thing Rhys did in ACOTAR. I may have missed the explanation, but to me that was the one action he couldn’t excuse.)
So, I happily accept the relationship change but because it’s Sarah J. Maas, there were a couple things that bothered me or made me roll my eyes a bit:
1) The whole “mating” concept wasn’t very well defined in the first book, but here Maas went into more detail and overall I didn’t have a problem with the concept. I do have to say that the whole suddenly territorial-upon-mating Fae male thing was a bit much. Stop beating up your friends and just be happy you found your mate already. Don’t make it weird, bro.
2) Maas also introduced a concept called winnowing - think apparating from Harry Potter. It’s the exact same thing. I kept expecting Dumbledore to apparate into the party and drop some sage wizard wisdom. Winnowing was a painfully convenient plot device that made some of the story’s events almost too easy...but as long as #Feysand are together, I don’t even care and my rating stays the same.
This quote...this made me melt:
“Those dreams - the flashes of that person, that woman...I treasured them. They were a reminder that there was some peace out there in the world, some light. That there was a place, and a person, who had enough safety to paint flowers on a table.”
Note: this book contains several sex scenes. Any parents who might be reading this review should make sure ACOMAF is appropriate for their kid, based on said kid’s maturity level.
I give this 5 glorious, smutty, emotionally-manipulative-and-I-don’t-even-care, Rhysand-take-me-away! stars. If you like emotional rollercoasters, magic, sexual tension, and fangirling over fictional couples like you’re fifteen again...this is about as good a book as you can find.