Bloomsbury, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-4088-5788-5
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.