After finishing the latest book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas, I wanted to do a post to delve into it a little further than I have in my recaps of what I’ve been reading and focus on this series. This post DOES contain spoilers, so if you haven’t finished the entire series you might bookmark this post for later.
According to my Goodreads, I originally started this series back in November of 2016. My friend, Heather, who also shares my love of the Fever series, kept telling me to read A Court of Thorns and Roses. Repeatedly. But, it sat on my TBR list for months, mostly because I really didn’t know anything about it. Two things finally tipped me over the edge to read it – I read a review that said it was a retelling of the Beauty & the Beast story and Heather decided to reread the book and it’s sequel and again reiterated they were the best books she has read in a long time. Now, Beauty & the Beast is one of my absolute favorite fairytales ever. So, ok, now you have my attention. It took me awhile to finally get a hold of a copy of the book from my local library. At one point I believe I creeper stalked people in the YA section to see what books they had in their hands. But finally, finally, I managed to check it out.
Heather was not wrong. ACOTAR was so good. I was hesitant at first, but it quickly lured me in. I liked Tamlin. I was glad that Feyre was finally in a place where she wasn’t having to hunt and scrape to take care of a family that wouldn’t lift a finger to help. But, as the book proceeded, I did begin to also question why Tamlin wouldn’t let Feyre in. He wanted to keep her at arm’s length when it came to what was actually going on in the Spring Court. And the more Ianthe inserted herself, when she clearly had her own agenda, the more I understood Feyre’s unease. When I first read the book, I was sad for the end of her relationship with Tamlin, but of course rereading it and knowing what happens gives you the insight to pick up on more of the dynamic between them.
A Court of Mist and Fury is my favorite book of the series. I think part of the reason I love this book so much, is that I identify with Feyre. I identify with feeling like she was the one to bear the responsibility of taking care of her family, and that after her time Under the Mountain, she is forever changed but no one can understand how it affected her. No one knows how much that broke her and how much she needed to heal. But somehow Rhys knows. He understands. And instead of trying to cage her, he sets her free. He gives her the tools to save herself, to become.
I love that Feyre realized that she could make the powers her own and she could combine them in ways the High Lords they came from could not. I devoured this book, particularly the last third of it. From the scene in the Court of Nightmares to the end, I couldn’t stop.
When I came back and read this book a second time, there was so much I had forgotten. All those little details that you might miss the first time through. And watching the transformation Feyre goes through, as well as the relationship with Rhys, is so worthwhile.
This book. This is the one that gutted me. I can’t begin to imagine the willpower it takes Feyre to pretend with Tamlin and Lucien and all of them. To pretend she is there by choice and that she suffered at the hands of Rhys. But watching the small moves she makes on the chessboard is fascinating. And when she and Lucien have that confrontation with his brothers on the ice and afterwards when Cassian and Azriel take Feyre and Lucien to the townhouse and she first sees Rhys and just sort of crumples, like now she doesn’t have to be strong anymore. I know that feeling — that feeling that you’ve been holding it together, being strong but the second you don’t have to anymore you fall apart. And Rhys just picks her up and carries her inside to their bedroom and tells everyone to just clear off.
And like most of SJM’s books, the last third of this book just ripped me apart on a rollercoaster of emotions. How panicked Rhys and Feyre are when they can’t reach the other down the bond, the battle at Adriata, the meeting with the other High Lords and what a shit Tamlin is. How he treats Feyre, and Rhys. How pained Feyre is at the way Rhys is viewed, for what he did Under the Mountain to try to save his people.
The fourth book in the series (which is sometimes referred to as book 3.5), is a novella. I basically read this in a night. But, for a novella I really think there’s a lot packed into the book.
I really liked reading Rhys’s POV in this book and gaining some insight into him. Seeing how they rebuild after the war and how Feyre begins to realize that her painting can become a way to cope with what they’ve been through, to process the losses and the grief. Especially when she goes to the weaver while shopping for solstice gifts and she asks her how she can keep creating, despite what she’d lost. And the weaver tells her that she has to create or it was all for nothing and because she has no other way of voicing that loss and that grief. To create brings hope in the void.
This book also starts to focus more on Cassian and Nesta, so when I finished this one I was oh so ready for A Court of Silver Flames. And the release of ACOSF in April was what prompted me to reread the series again. And because this is one of my favorite series ever (if not the favorite), I decided to buy the hardbacks to have in my own library. (Also, they changed the cover style with ACOSF, and I love the original covers so much I wanted those.) So, after finishing ACOFAS, I ordered A Court of Silver Flames and I immediately dug into it when it arrived.
See? New cover style. I like the covers of the originals so much better. Anyway, I loved this book. As much as I can relate to Feyre in many ways, I also really relate to Nesta. In one of the books, maybe ACOMAF, Feyre says about Nesta that she comes across as rigid and vicious but that it’s a shield. That she thinks Nesta feels everything — sees too much, and that keeping that wall up helps her from being overwhelmed by it. And that little tidbit about Nesta so completely resonated with me. I have learned to let the wall down some, and to be more open. But it is a constant struggle to not be overwhelmed by everything I see and feel. It took me a long time to realize I’m an empath, and I’m still learning how to manage it. And given my struggles too with anxiety and depression, Nesta’s story, Nesta’s journey, really spoke to me.
And there is SO MUCH to Nesta’s journey that I can’t even hope to capture it – but she undergoes warrior training which completely changes her physically, the Mind-Stilling practice which allows her to center herself and quiet her thoughts. She develops friendships and a goal she can push toward with them to become Valkyries. She’s learning about her powers and what they can do, how she can use them. And then, of course, there’s her relationship with Cassian and how it evolves as she transforms. My word for 2021 is “Open”, and I chose it exactly because I wanted to focus on allowing myself to be open and vulnerable and to not put those walls up that cut myself off from people and opportunities and growth. And so, Nesta’s journey was really meaningful to me.
I read ACOSF in a week and it is one hefty book. But, I found myself so drawn in that I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading. I even took the book cover off at one point because I found that I was carrying the book around everywhere with me just to read a page or two whenever I had five minutes. After I finished it, I spent a few days reading another book (a palate cleanser), but couldn’t stop thinking about ACOSF. So, I read it again. And it was just as good, if not better, than it was the first time around. It didn’t lose anything by me reading it twice in three weeks.
I’m so looking forward to the next book, although I think we’ll probably have a while before we get a new one. I have a lot of theories about what might be in that book and I can’t wait to find out. I’m sure it will require another reread of the series before the next book, but luckily now I have them on my shelf to read whenever I want to.