A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

Posted by Mrs Giggles on January 14, 2017 in 5 Oogies, Book Reviews, Genre: Fantasy & Sci-fi / 5 Comments

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

Bloomsbury, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-4088-5788-5
Fantasy, 2016

I still stand by my review of the previous book in this series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, that it wasn’t a very good book. But oh boy, the actual sequel rips apart everything I thought it would be, completely turning things upside down and even delivering an actual girl power message that I wholeheartedly approve. A Court of Mist and Fury has its shares of issues, but it is a fantastically entertaining tale that is nearly impossible to put down.

Oh, and while I do try not to get into too many spoilers, it is impossible not to spoil events in the previous book, so if you do want to read the previous book anytime soon, I strongly discourage you to read this review.

Anyway, still reading? Alright, let’s get to the juicy stuff. Oh, and if you are Team Tamlin, prepare yourself: he is not the hero you think he is. Get ready to swap for your Team Rhysand T-shirt, and it turns out that Tamlin is a misdirection all along. All the signs were there in the previous book, but silly me, I thought nothing of them then. You see, Tamlin is a creepy, overprotective, stalkerish boor who keeps his woman all “protected” in a bubble. No big deal, right, you think? Standard operating procedure of a typical new adult/young adult hero. Slap on a tattoo and Photoshop a bike behind Tamlin and you’d be hard press to tell him apart from a random hero in books of the genre.

This is not good for Feyre, because our heroine is still suffering from the horrifying events that took place late in the previous book. The physical and mental tortures she received ended when she finally killed the slut ho bag of a big bad, but it killed her. She was resurrected by the combined powers of the seven High Fae lords, causing her to come back to life as a member of a High Fae herself. What, you think a lesser body will do for a heroine? However, this comes with added bonus: she ends up also gaining an ability from each High Fae lord during the resurrection process. This can be scary as she can’t control these powers.

And more importantly, she is also drowning. Tamlin and she are getting married, but he refuses to let her do anything or go anywhere. Left to her own devices, bereft of any distractions to keep her from reliving her torment, you can imagine how fun her life is. She asks and even begs Tamlin to let her do something, anything, but no can do, Big Boss says no and please do stay hot and pretty as the Big Boss deserves no less for a wife, thank you very much.

On the other hand, her shared experiences with Rhysand during those times Under the Mountain led to the formation of some kind of mental bond between them. Rhys ends up providing some mental comfort for her, and eventually, when Tamlin actually erects a magical shield that keeps her from leaving the house, causing her to descend into a mental breakdown, Rhys sends his cousin Morrigan to break Feyre out and bring her to him.

Oh, Rhys is the High Lord of the Night Court as well as the Court of Nightmares. Sounds all bad and evil, right? Well, no. Feyre soon discovers that he is actually a benevolent leader to his people, going as far as to cultivate plenty of bad PR to keep outsiders away from threatening the peace of his people. I know, this sounds like a cop-out, but I’m fine with this, because I like how the author actually treats the whole “creepy overprotectiveness and condescending man-knows-better-for-your-own-good” thing as a destructive thing rather than a sign of true love. Rhys turns out to be the true mate for Feyre, and I’m perfectly alright with this because (a) he treats her as his equal rather than a pretty ornament to be placed under guard, (b) he breaks tradition to make her his equal mate instead of merely “the consort”, and (c) their relationship has a healthy amount of give-and-take, rather than him forcing her to depend on him in the name of “true love”. All the negative elements in the relationship between Tamlin and Feyre are presented as they are here – negative, even destructive – and I can only go “YES!” I don’t like Rhys that much, honestly, as he’s a bit too nice and hence bland for my liking, but he’s a far better boyfriend material for Feyre than Tamlin.

And yes, I admit it: as bland as I find Rhys, the way he is so free with his emotions… okay, I sort of wipe my eyes a bit when the content of his letter to the human queens is read. Just a little bit!

Even better, here, Feyre trains and masters her abilities, so in a way, she has to work to be worthy of her unearned power upgrade. Along the way, she learns, sometimes the hard way, the true meaning of sacrificing and doing less-than-nice things for the ones you love. Our heroine is still brash and impatient at times, but my goodness, she really comes to her own here as a heroine who kicks ass while still having realistic vulnerabilities to keep her from being too awesome to be believable.

There’s more to this story than just feels, of course. Feyre and Rhys are probably the only ones who fully understand the threat of the Big Bad on both the faeries and humans, as they both experienced the horrifying extent of the Big Bad’s villainy up close and personal. But they will need a lot of luck convincing the fractured High Lords and human rulers to put aside their many, many differences to unite against this threat. This story has plenty of twists and turns that keep me at the edge of my seat, and the last chapter has me gritting my teeth when I realize that the next book is months away from coming out.

Okay, the issues. The pacing of the story can be an issue, as way too many things just come out of nowhere in the last few chapters. There are still many annoying young adult tropes here – surprise, we have another slutty ho bag character as a foil to our heroine, ugh. Oh, and the heroine’s abilities mean that she will make a perfect broodmare for the High Lords, because heaven forbid we have a young adult story that does not have every hot guy lining up to love our heroine while the not-so-nice ones line up to want to force themselves on our heroine. Fortunately, the last one is only hinted at here, keeping this one from becoming some Merry Gentry wannabe, at least for now. Also, much of the story consists of exposition, although this isn’t an issue for me because the scenery and the lore are all fascinating to read about.

At any rate, A Court of Mist and Fury is almost everything the last book isn’t: it’s a very entertaining and gripping story full of exciting ups and downs that leave me feeling breathless. This is a book that I can’t stop reading until I hit the last page, and the girl power message is done just the way I like it – believable, empowering, and yet poignant and even heartbreaking as the story hurtles towards the exciting cliffhanger of a last chapter. In just one book, the author has completely reversed my opinion of this series, and now, I’m waiting impatiently for the next book.

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Cantankerous muffin who loves boys that sparkle, unicorns, money, chocolates, and fantastical stories.

5 responses to “A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

  1. amousie

    I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself. Plumbing, we have a toilet and a “cool” toilet bowl that one can retch over for inside a bathing room. Plus it flushes!!!! Who knew that the Fae were so modern?

    I’ll be back at the end of Book 1 but I couldn’t resist the modern toilet plug. Hope they have a sewage treatment plant.

  2. amousie

    Okay, I think I’m reading this book too soon after the first because I’m nitpicking the shit out of it. It may actually be a fabulous story but I’m not even to the end of Book 1 and find myself looking for stuff to take apart and it’s way too easy. Horrible worldbuilding if I actually think about it (which unfortunately I am) as opposed to just accepting it. Means something really stupid (for me, not necessarily what the author did) completely knocked me out of the story.

    Anyway, humans dressed up like High Fae. I’m on the fence about whether or not the author likes women. Yeah, I know standard YA tropes and the author uses a huge twist which is very pro-girl power. Yet, I’d really rather have a female protag story instead of a female victim story.

    Having read old skool romance in my youth, I will say it’s always been obvious to me that Rhys was meant to be the hero because she reacted with violent emotions (compared to her reactions to Tam) every time she comes in contact with him and she never judges him by his actions.

    Her first kiss / hickey from Tam happens after her first encounter with Rhys. She consummates her “love” for Tam after her first real introduction to Rhys where he probes her mind for the first time. During a 3 month period Under the Mountain, he saves her again and again and again and she never, not her imprisonment or even during her 3 months wallowing recovery reconsiders her opinion of him. Old skool romance = must be love.

    She’s that wild woman child of those romances in young adult we can’t have actual torture form. Sorry, she’s such a f***ing idiot. Perhaps if the author showed me the story instead of telling it to me I’d probably feel differently. But being so removed from the narrator allows me all kinds of room to say WTF?!?!? this is the same girl who supposedly taught herself to hunt in secret. Who can do all the woodchopping and other chores without breaking a sweat. The woman-child who brought down this major major curse. A supposed survivor and she does nothing to test out her own body in 3 months, even though doing so would exhaust her and possibly allow her to lose the torments of her mind for brief moments. Just like painting would do.

    Sorry, she just wasn’t that broken. Or rather we didn’t get to see her broken like that.

    Also I don’t buy that she can’t read. Think about the family business, the pre-industrial revolution time period, and what Feyre takes on by age of 11. Given her sense of adventure, curiousity, obvious intelligence, tenaciousness along with a full-blown martyr complex that her mother used to extract that “promise” from her, Feyre would be practically running the damn business by that point. Make her much much younger and we have the story the author wants to tell. Of course, then Feyre couldn’t be so damned naive.

    I know I know I’m thinking too much. For some reason the old skool adult romance book series Marietta Danvers keeps popping into my brain.

    Whine done for now. I’ll put the book aside until Monday or Tuesday then focus on the good stuff you said in your review and see where I end up.

  3. I really don’t think you are going to enjoy this, if you are going to reject outright the tropes of the genre. Just saying. May as well quit while you are ahead,

  4. amousie

    I’m going to try to read it because it’s been an earwig in my brain all weekend. Despite my objections, there is something there which is compelling storywise. I need to put myself into a different reading mode. Not quite there yet. Real life is well interfering.

    Here’s what I’m pondering as an aside, is a book with an outstandingly positive female soapbox message still good if the foundation / world building on which the book is built ultimately female negative?

    By this I mean, the female protag of old-skool romance were completely put through the ringer, seriously tortured in some cases, but generally it was them as individuals, not the entire female gender bound by world-building rules. Now we entire book series dedicated to experiencing female triumph fantasies again and again.

    If you really think about them, many of these tropes do have value on their own, but romance, and this book is a romance, likes to say it is so female positive and empowering. Can that really be the case when the underlying worldbuilding is so female negative, even if a special female ultimately triumphs typically only because of the power of love and the power of the male lead?

    e.g., the opening of this novel is so modern and “human.” Be a rich wife and spend his money. Trophy wife. That’s serious human soapbox stuff. Do I think the supremely positive message you describe an important one? Absolutely. But there are many problems with hamstringing the entire female gender this way in the worldbuilding. Especially when you combine it with slut shaming. Lack of female role-models for positions of power. etc., etc., While promoting the heroine as the “special one.” I think the answer is most definitely no. But I’ll have to actually read the book to see if it can transcend my initial biases.

    As a further aside, you once asked me if Kate could be Beast Lord. The answer is no. Kate already has a much much higher and older hereditary lineage plus the power that goes along with. Not once is it acknowledged that Kate completely outranks Lion-O, even before he abdicated his “republic” given Beast Lord title. Claiming the city made her “royalty status” even more front and center but again the story told by the authors never deals with that. Realistically Kate would be a female “King.” Instead she’s a consort and now a wife, dealing with no politics. She is a version of the trophy wife which Rhys talks about.

  5. amousie, this series isn’t romance. It’s straight fantasy with romantic elements and a female protagonist, so it should be judged by a different set of rules – the same ones that Twilight, The Hunger Games, etc play against.

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