My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beware, there are mild spoilers in this review!
Honestly, this book was a rollercoaster ride. It went a way I never could have predicted, but it was perfect. Maas gave me everything I did not know I wanted, and more. I really loved 'A Court of Thorns and Roses', don't get me wrong - but it pales in comparison to this masterpiece of a book.
'A Court of Mist and Fury', above all else, was a book about Feyre's recovery from a traumatic event and how she grows as a person as a result of this. Her descriptions of depression were alarmingly accurate and really made me feel the extent of Feyre's suffering:
I was glad for the silence - even as it became a weight on me, even as it filled my head until there was nothing inside it beyond... emptiness.
Eternity. Was this to be my eternity?
Eternity. Was this to be my eternity?
As I watched Tamlin suffocate Feyre and ignore her wishes in place of his own paternalistic way of dealing with problems, I genuinely felt sorry for her. I connected with Feyre to a much greater extent than I ever did in 'A Court of Thorns and Roses', and this made me feel personally invested in the outcome of the story.
While I am on the subject of Tamlin - I am so happy with how Tamlin and Feyre's relationship ended up. Why do women in YA fiction always have only one lover for their whole lives? It's entirely unrealistic. The people I dated when I was in my teens are certainly not people I would want to end up with forever. Sure, there are some people who have been together that long and are very happy - but I would not say they are the majority. Anyway, Tamlin and Feyre's love reminded me of a strongly burning fire - beautiful and strong to begin with, but eventually, it consumed all the kindling and there was nothing left to sustain it.
Rhys and Feyre, on the other hand, had the kind of love that develops over time. The kind of love that is respectful and considerate, never putting one person's needs over the other. While Tamlin locked Feyre up and told her "I know best", Rhys never forced Feyre to do, well, anything she did not want to do. Even when it made his plans more difficult, even when it would have benefitted him, and even when he genuinely thought it was the best thing for her. He never presumed to know her better than she knew herself. That's true respect, an absolutely necessary precursor to true love.
Also, regardless of their relationships with Feyre, Rhys is a much more complex and interesting character than Tamlin. He just had more to him. Tamlin was all macho masculinity, but Rhys was cunning, political, loving, protective but not overbearing, kind, generous, and above all, genuinely compassionate to his people, friends, and family. He had layers, not all of which were pretty, but which made him a much more believable and sympathetic person.
I have talked a lot about Feyre's relationships because they hit me really hard, but the romance is not that prominent in this book. It focuses much more on the political and mystical side of life in Prythian. From the water wraiths that are clearly analogous for a racially oppressed group, to the Summer Court who have a lot to show for their political neutrality over the years - this was a world well-imagined and well-written. We also meet some amazingly complex new characters, who enrich the story; indeed, I fell in love with Amren, Mor, Cassian, and Azriel, and what they meant to Rhys, and eventually, to Feyre.
The ending of this book is completely and utterly soul-crushing. Throughout the book, I was predicting how it would end (as you do), and I was extremely far off. 'A Court of Mist and Fury' has Sarah J. Maas written all over it - beautiful world-building, complex and interesting characters, and a plot that will destroy your soul beyond recognition.
Overall, this was an amazing novel full of beautifully woven characters in an intricate and lovely world. I would recommend you read this, even if you did not love 'A Court of Thorns and Roses' - it is by far, my favourite of Maas' novels, and I have loved them all.