“To the people who look at the stars and wish.”
If you read my A Court of Thorns and Roses review, you’ll have seen that I had some mixed feelings about the first book in this series. Despite the hit-and-miss romance and my disliking of Tamlin, on the whole, the first book was enjoyable, and towards the end, I found it hard to put down. After the emotional rollercoaster of going from feeling very indifferent towards the book to being borderline addicted to all the cool and creepy fantasy elements (ok, and Rhysand too, I suppose), I was eager to see where the series went from there.
And… I was kind of disappointed. The first book had been on such an upward trend in terms of my enjoyment that I hoped the second would fully win me over. And whilst there are some great moments in this book, the plot just didn’t manage to grip me – which was a big problem, considering that this was a pretty big book at over 600 pages.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for the first book – A Court of Thorns and Roses!
“When you spend so long in the darkness, Lucien, you find that the darkness begins to stare back.”
This book picks up on Feyre’s story after escaping Amarantha’s court under the mountain. She’s settling back into her life with Tamlin, who’s grown even more over-protective (read: controlling) of Feyre since their return, and is keeping her hidden away from the outside world. Tamlin isn’t the only one who’s changed after what they’ve been through, as Feyre is haunted by the memories of her trials and of the containment she suffered, leaving her feeling broken and trapped. To add in an extra complication to Feyre’s newly immortal life, she is forced to face the deal she struck with Rhysand, which means she spends one week of every month at the Night Court.
In this book, we really see Feyre become a part of the fae world, and open her eyes to the other courts of Prythian. It also casts a new light on her relationship with Tamlin, which of course, is at least partly due to Rhysand. It’s a book about Feyre finding her place and her power in this strange and magical world, and learning to overcome the horrors she’s experienced.
“He thinks he’ll be remembered as the villain in the story. But I forgot to tell him that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key. He was the one who let me out.”
I’ll start with the positives about this book. I really like that this book explores more of Rhysand’s character, showing that there’s more to the mysterious and powerful High Lord of the Night Court than we saw in the first book. Rhysand is a character who interested me from the start, and became an instant highlight of the first book, so I’m glad he’s so prominent in this one.
Another thing I like about this book is the romance. After being uncomfortable with some of Tamlin’s actions in A Court of Thorns and Roses, the fact that this book addresses those issues was a big relief to me, as I’d been concerned that the highly problematic aspects of Tamlin’s characters were going to be glazed over – or worse, romanticised. In contrast to the unpleasantness of Tamlin in the first book, I like the slow-building sexual tension between Feyre and Rhysand, and the dynamic between them feels much healthier than anything previous.
Unfortunately, the plot of this book just didn’t particularly grip me. There are some great underlying themes of recovery, abuse and discovery in this book, but the actual plot feels flimsy. Very little happens in this book, and while I’m usually happy about a slow-burner, this just didn’t quite do it for me. The pacing just doesn’t feel quite right, and honestly, I can’t help but think this book would have benefited from losing a couple of hundred pages.
I also feel like I have to mention that I don’t really get the way Sarah J Maas writes her sex scenes. There are some that I’ve enjoyed, but others have just made me cringe or roll my eyes. Honestly, I never want to hear anyone use any variation on the phrase “considerable length” again.
“And I was not a mouse. I was a wolf.”
What I did like about the book, however, is that Feyre has undergone some character development, and seems to have found her power again. I like how she goes from being a powerless mortal under the rule of the fae, to being at least as powerful as her previous captors.
I think there are some really great elements to this book, and I can see why a lot of my book-loving friends like it. There’s something addictive about the way Sarah J Maas writes her romances, and this book rights a lot of wrongs from the first book, which has gone a long way towards winning me over. I just wish the plot had been more exciting and fast-moving.
I’m not sure how soon I’ll be reading the next book. While the cliffhanger at the end of this book has piqued my interest, I’m just not sure if it will be able to keep my attention if the pacing is anything like this one. I’ve also heard criticisms of the next book, particularly involving diversity and harmful representations, so that’s going to be another factor that puts me off. We’ll see if I find myself in the mood for more of this story.
“I was a survivor, and I was strong.”
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve read this series! I’d love to know your thoughts on it – and feel free to disagree!