Just out of respect for this publication, I feel compelled to go through a period of mourning, take a little more time with this story, and let it simmer instead of rushing on. I can’t even begin to express how much of a rejuvenating reading experience this was. It had all the hallmarks of Sarah J. Maas, including fantastic relationships, a strong emphasis on found family, excellent character development, and more intense romance.
A Worthy Sequel
I would call this Part 2 of A Court of Mist and Fury. It resonates with that book, exploring topics such as severe anxiety and the complex process of healing from trauma, which is never a linear journey.
She had every right to be angry (anyone who has carried so much anger and anxiety knows how heavy it weighs you down and debilitates you), although I initially disliked how her anger would lash out at anyone who showed even the slightest hint of care. But circumstances shape you. Injury leaves its mark. Hurt people hurt people. She was trapped in a vicious cycle of self-loathing, hatred, and pain, and it took a toll on her mental health. All because of her dysfunctional upbringing, her body violated without consent, and being thrust into a world she was conditioned to despise.
The Remarkable Journey of Nesta’s Character
I could write essays about Nesta’s character. I absolutely adore what Sarah J. Maas has done here. The attention to detail regarding Nesta’s emotional well-being is incredible and contributes greatly to her growth and healing. It became about the little things, celebrating small victories, accepting setbacks, and moving forward in her own way and at her own pace.
A Character-Driven Book
This is unquestionably a character-driven book, and that’s probably why I loved it so much. I’ll take character development over plot any day, especially when it’s executed so well. However, there is still a solid plot present. Am I the only one who found the world-building in this book even more epic? It felt much more substantial, building upon the foundation of the previous books in the series. That House? I want one!
I didn’t want this book to end—it could have been longer. It felt like a comprehensive beginning. We only glimpsed the full extent of Nesta’s abilities, and I’m craving more of her. It was incredible to see her character emerge and shine through, shedding all the layers she had hidden behind for so long.
Mixed Feelings About Rhys and Feyre
My biggest issue with this book revolved around Rhys and Feyre. Honestly, I no longer care about them. They had their time to shine, and they did… so can we please move on? The moment I read about Rhys guarding Feyre’s scent so no one else could find her, I was 1000% sure she was pregnant. I was incredibly annoyed because I knew somehow it would circle back to them.
Disappointments in the Love Story
Next, and almost equally disappointing, was the love between Nesta and Cassian. I have loved them since day one and was eagerly anticipating the development of their love story. On one hand, I enjoyed the physical aspect of their relationship. Sarah J. Maas definitely turned up the heat in this one, but that’s where it ended. There was something significant missing between them, leaving me feeling indifferent towards them. The tension that existed between them in the previous books was nowhere to be found. It was truly disappointing, and the “friend” reveal was utterly underwhelming.
Thirdly, Nesta’s growth. Just as I loved Nesta and Cassian together, I loved Nesta’s individual journey. She has always been one of my favorite characters in this series, even when she was at her worst. So, I was eagerly awaiting the day when we would get Nesta’s story because she needed significant growth and development. Generally, Sarah J. Maas excels at crafting strong character arcs. However, this fell short. Most of the growth felt physical rather than mental. I was ready for this ship to sail, and now that it has, I must say, I’m disappointed. I wanted more, although I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly. I think I hyped it up so much in my mind that it couldn’t possibly live up to it. I wasn’t consumed by the romance the way I had hoped. I wanted an epic love story, and it didn’t deliver. The whole romance felt ‘meh’ to me, which is unfortunate because it was the main reason I read this book. I wanted the angst, the yearning, the pining! You know what I mean, fellow romance lovers. Instead, I got a lot of sex scenes. And while I don’t mind them, I wanted more romance than sex. It didn’t meet my expectations.
I both liked and disliked the characters. I used to love Nesta, and while I appreciated her growth and seeing her overcome her trauma, she didn’t feel like the Nesta I adored in A Court of Wings and Ruin. Maybe it’s just my disappointment, but she and Cassian felt off to me. Their actions were slightly out of character compared to what I had seen before. But people change depending on the perspective you view them from. Having experienced everything before from Feyre’s point of view means we got a biased, not necessarily accurate portrayal of who they are.
The Inner Circle’s Evolution
That leads me to the fact that I actually liked the Inner Circle more in this book than before. I still don’t love them and think they all have their own flaws, but I was more accepting of them. Perhaps it’s because, unlike Feyre, who saw them as perfect beings who could do no wrong, Nesta isn’t afraid to point out their imperfections. Unfortunately, Cassian is blind to the fact that Rhys isn’t flawless. It bothered me how furious and borderline violent he became whenever Nesta expressed her dislike for Rhys. I also hated how unbothered Cassian was when Rhys threatened to kill his friend. I kept waiting for Cassian to defend Nesta against Rhys. It never happened. I don’t understand why everyone in this series feels the need to treat Rhys like he’s the best thing since sliced bread.
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