Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dating & Sex, Depression & Mental Illness, Epic, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, High fantasy, Love & Romance, New Adult, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon // The Book Depository
Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
sarah j maas has proved that this is more than “just another great fantasy series.”
the ending of ACOTAR was very conclusive, so if i hadn’t had a copy of this book after finishing the first, i don’t think i would’ve picked it up. which is to say, i’m REALLY grateful for the timing i’d decided to read this series. everyone was hyping it and my expectations were already over the moon, but somehow, sarah j maas still managed to surpass them. if you thought ACOTAR was good, ACOMAF is on a whole new level.
i don’t think i’ll be able to stop saying this, but WOW this book is phenomenal. it’s kind of amazing to see how much maas has grown as an author because the plot and writing flowed SO well thought out. there were parts of TOG series where it felt as if things were decided on a whim, but it’s clear that this series is not the case. the characters go through an extensive amount of development; the plot unfolds and we go beyond the “happily ever after”; the themes are stronger than ever, and the writing itself improves so much. everything kinda clicks into place, but since it’s only the second book, i know there’ll be more connections in the finale.
“To the stars who listen – and the dreams that are answered.” (pg. 337)
i would highly HIGHLY recommend reading this series for anyone who’s a fan of high fantasy. the first book was kinda an intro to the story and situations, but ACOMAF is when things really start to happen. although if you’re uncomfortable with really intimate and sexual scenes, i’d maybe pass. (that’s my only so-called complaint? sometimes i’ll be like “okay okay skim”) but yes, absolutely phenomenal and i can’t stop talking about it. go read it if you haven’t already!
spoiler filled discussion beginning! please do not continue reading unless you’ve finished ACOTAR and ACOMAF. consider yourself warned. but seriously, DO NOT read this unless you’ve finished the book.
the themes and messages are so powerful
my favorite aspect of this book is the quiet contemporary issues that are so powerful. this is obviously a high fantasy novel, but feyre is dealing with depression, PTSD, and an abusive relationship. she is so physically strong, but she is not by any means the Typical Strong YA Heroine™ and the other characters aren’t predictable and “average” either.
feyre’s internal struggles are so raw. in the first half of this novel, it’s so evident that she’s suffering with depression. it actually started at the end of ACOTAR, but i didn’t realize until i went to reread parts and we actually see feyre dying. while you can say it is from her physical injuries, i’m sure the emotional distress is much more powerful. and in situations like this do we really see how some characters truly are (look @ u, tamlin. but more on that later.) feyre is emotionally wrecked at the beginning of this book.
“I want them to hear your story. And know there is a special strength… A special strength in enduring such dark trials and hardships… And still remain warm, and kind. Still willing to trust – and reach out.” (pg. 239)
sarah j maas showed how unlikely and costly mental illnesses can be through a FANTASY NOVEL. i can’t stress how amazing it is because this topic is so important and often overlooked in genres that aren’t labeled with “depression.” it completely reshapes the characters, story, and relationships in the book and isn’t shown as a “side effect” for what happened under the mountain. however, it’s not really about how tragic things are; it’s about overcoming the obstacles and becoming stronger. it’s about admitting what’s bothering you, accepting help when you need it, showing yourself that you deserve better, and letting go of things that are holding you back.
initially, i didn’t realized feyre’s relationship with tamlin was abusive. we (meaning me) often have a set mindset that a relationship is only abusive if the person is literally physically hurting one another. if sarah j maas didn’t so obviously point out the wrongs between feyre and tamlin, i probably wouldn’t have caught it.
i think feyre felt the way tamlin treated her was more than what she ever asked for and/or deserved. it’s obvious in ACOTAR that she has some issues with self-love, so i can see that she’d fall for the first person who treats her nicely (especially when she expects him to be this horrid beast) (stockholm syndrome?!). it was only after tamlin repeatedly ignored her pleas, following what he thought would be best for her, and literally LOCKED HER UP did she finally snap. but if she hadn’t experienced the bit of freedom in the night court (which i know technically was a prison for her), i’m unsure if she would’ve noticed the wrong signs.
“And I realized — I realized how badly I’d been treated before, if my standards had become so low. If the freedom I’d been granted felt like a privilege and not an inherent right.”
but even after all that, feyre was still convinced she loved tamlin. half of herself was saying NO NO NO to him (ex. the almost wedding scene, whenever he disregarded her, that moment in ACOTAR when he literally bit her neck because she didn’t follow his orders) but the other half was still not over it. (maybe because she STILL thought it was more that what she could ever ask for?) she was in an abusive relationship without realizing it and i think this speaks so strongly in YA because, again, it’s not something you see often. it’s really eye-opening and i love how sarah j maas executed the whole ordeal. another point that was very important: your first love may not be your true love.
some can say rhysand was abusive towards feyre in ACOTAR, but he’s meant to be playing the villainous role. he is the bad guy and there’s no denying it. their initial relationship isn’t meant to be romantic or friendly or good. but even when he was the “bad guy,” rhysand forced things on feyre but still gave her space. tamlin played the heroic role and believed he was doing good when he clearly wasn’t. in doing that, i think his actions were much worse.
side note: this tumblr user wrote a great discussion on pregnancy and the females’ choice and i would definitely recommend reading that. it also follows the whole abusive/toxic relationship ordeal.
these relationships and characters give me a lot of feelings.
while we’re on the topic of abusive relationships, let me just continue by ranting about tamlin and his overall character. i’ve heard some people complaining about how “sarah j maas destroyed tamlin’s character!!!!!” and that “she pulled a 180 on him just so her ships would work out!!!!” but i disagree because, if you read carefully, there are so many clues and hints left in the first book if you pay close attention. (and speaking of foreshadowing, this tumblr user pointed out how well placed this paragraph is. ANYWAY.) i mentioned the biting scene from ACOTAR earlier, but there are also parts where he repeatedly ignores her and traps her up. i think at the time i found it normal because we’re expecting him to be her captor but as a romantic interest???? that’s not okay. while yes, he gives her materialistic needs, feyre isn’t a trophy wife. and let’s not forget that in ACOTAR the one chance he could see feyre, he decided to strip off half her clothes instead of help saving her from death. i could go on about his character for HOURS but i think this tumblr post does a good job elaborating some more. (as you can tell, i clearly stalked the #acomaf tag for a bit; people have fantastic analyses) this twitter thread is also relevant:
Havining finished ACOMAF I want to touch on the controversial subject of Tamlin's character development. Proceed w/ caution SPOILERS.
— liz (@herondarIing) May 19, 2016
now i’m going to straight up compare rhysand’s relationship with feyre because THAT’S THE WAY TO GO. rhysand and feyre’s dynamic was much more natural because the whole “falling for each other” was much longer than the “oh wait, i actually love you” part. and i think that’s really important because before they were even reaaaaaally attracted to each other, they were friends. they acknowledge each other as people who will always have each other’s back no matter the sexual relationship. feyre clearly says that rhysand is her friend and i think that makes their relationship so much stronger than just “love.” if you think about it, feyre loved tamlin, but was she ever friends with him?
the most prominent aspect of their relationship is how it’s a mutual understanding. feyre is rhysand’s EQUAL in every way. he respects her choices; he doesn’t underestimate her ability***; he’s always challenging her and hoping she’ll get better. and that’s something that simply DID NOT EXIST with tamlin. (i don’t want to compare the two but I CAN’T HELP MYSELF) and it’s all complete when we read the last chapter that announces feyre as high lady of the night court, which is something that has never been done before in this world because GENDER ROLES. (i am cackling at tamlin who was all “there’s no such thing as a high lady psh) (this awesome tumblr post also explains the equality of feyrhys’ relationship!!)
***”Amren,” Rhysand drawled, “sends her regards. And as for this one…” I tried not to flinch away from his meeting stare. “She’s mine,” he said quietly … “And if you lay a hand on her, you lose that hand. And then you lose your head.” … “And once Feyre is done killing you,” Rhys smirked, “then I’ll grind your bones to dust.” (pg. 444)
notice how rhysand says, “…once FEYRE IS DONE KILLING YOU.”
more things about feyrhys that i’m going to point out:
- he gives her space!!!!!
- he’s not a possessive beast
- he cares more about HER happiness than what HE THINKS would be her happiness
- he respects her choices even if he disagrees with them
- they are the reason why i will probably never be in a relationship because of overly high expectations sigh
but i’m going to openly admit that i wasn’t always “team rhysand.” i was always a little wary of him and i’m glad of it because it just distinguishes the theme of not everyone is who they seem to be & everyone has a backstory. it’s ironic because i just realized that rhysand is “the beast” in this BEAUTY AND THE BEAST retelling; he even mentions how he knows how the stories will be told (girl is “kidnapped” by dark high lord from the perfect fiancé) (i cry at this). but he is actually such a perfectly complex character with a blend of secrets, sass, darkness, insecurities, dreams, and ALL THE GOOD THINGS. i love this character way too much ;—;
some little things i’m really happy we learned about in regards to rhysand:
- rhysand was the one who send the music to her cave in ACOTAR (i had a theory, but it’s so nice to have this confirmed)
- he dreamed about her before they even met (this whole explanation makes his thoughts and actions much more sense!)
- along those same lines, his first words towards her – “there you are. i’ve been looking for you.” – is actually something true.
- he said in ACOTAR after amarantha’s second task that he would make her read when feyre visited the night court and he literally made her read when she first arrived in the night court
another thing i LOVE in relation to rhysand is the way his true court functions. the inner circle is literally the DREAM team. i love how both his second and third are females, but the group of them are all relatively equal. they are each so individually particular but also fit together so well. they have this perfect understanding and bond of protection for each other that i one day hope to experience in my own life. although they each seem tough and hard on the outside, i don’t have an ounce of doubt for the strength in their friendship. no back stabbing, no bull sh!t. literally SQUAD GOALS.
my favorite of ~the squad~ is probably mor/morrigan. i admire the way she keeps going despite all that has happened in the past. the way she connects with feyre, encouraging her from the beginning to keep her head up, is so admirable. she’s been through SO MUCH and she doesn’t let it destroy her, instead using it as an opportunity to make herself stronger. *sings what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger*
“You do what you love, what you need.” (pg. 178)
okay, i must rant about the whole LUCIEN IS ELAIN’S MATE thing. i found this aspect to be so unrealistic and random because:
- WHAT ARE THE CHANCES??????
- is it normal for one’s mate to be human??
- then is it normal for humans to turn immortal and go frolicking around??
- is there something special about feyre’s family??? because i’m pretty sure nesta’s mate is cassian let’s be real (and if not, there’s SOMETHING going on) (not that i mind)
- and it’s such a fantastic coincidence that these are all the high fae/high lords in relation to feyre
- again, WHAT ARE THE CHANCES????
but anyway, i’m curious to see how that plays out in the next book because it’s implied that lucien knows about feyre’s act. i absolutely LOVE the way sarah decided to end the book because she could’ve easily left it with a cliffhanger of feyre being separated but SHE DIDN’T. now we know feyre is high lady and she’s still rhysand’s mate and they are likely to SLAY in the next novel. i’m happy to be excited for ACOTAR3 instead of “I NEED THIS BECAUSE WHAT JUST HAPPENED.” i feel confident that that it will be fantastic and i can happily await its release.