fairytale retelling · fantasy · review · young adult

A Court Of Mist And Fury – Sarah J. Maas

“You want to save the mortal realm?” He asked. “Then become someone Prythian listens to. Become vital. Become a weapon.”

 

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Blurb: “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 politic, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms – and she might be the 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.”

This is the sequel to the New York Times best-selling book A Court Of Thorns and Roses. The story opens with Feyre recovering from the events of the first book and dealing with how she’s going to tell her lover, Tamlin, about the deal she made with Rhysand; the High lord of the Night Court. Feyre and Tamlin’s wedding approaches and Tamlin becomes increasingly more protective of her, demanding that she only stay within the house, and occasionally extends this to the grounds. But it’s been more than a month, and Feyre knows that Rhysand will show up soon to cash in on their deal: having her for one week, of every month, for the rest of their lives. And now Feyre is immortal, this is a deal that will last a very long time.

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and I don’t think I’ve ever been so let down by a book.  This book is over 600 pages long and there didn’t seem to be much plot or substance to it at all. I’ve noticed recently with Sarah’s books is that (despite me being a fan of her work) they’re just getting longer and it feels like they’re long for the sake of being long; most of the content could easily be cut down.  So it felt like a long-winded book anyway and I just couldn’t connect to any of the characters like I had in the previous book, I just found myself resenting most of the characters throughout my reading experience. Character motivations seemed all over the place.

I honestly can’t really tell you what the plot is about because there just didn’t seem to be any and it just appeared masked by roaming around different places to open up the world, endless conversations and a lot of very very graphic sex scenes. (I note that while this is a YA book there was no “mature content” warning on the book itself) I’m all for sexual liberation etc but it was just out of place and thrown in there to create something a little steamy to keep the readers interested.

The only thing I really liked what the process of Feyre discovering her powers and learning to control them, but with Rhysand being the one to train her it just felt creepy and made me quite uncomfortable. Another thing I noticed was that Rhysand was constantly referred to by two names: “Rhysand” and the shortened “Rhys.” While this could just be me being a little picky, the constant interchanging on the two names made me feel like there were two different people there. And Feyre, for the most part, wasn’t comfortable around him so her resorting to nicknames again felt out ofplace.

In Sarah’s latest newsletter she talked about this book and how she actually wrote this series before Throne of Glass and how A Court Of Thorns And Roses had just been gathering dust on her computer. After reading this book, I really wish it was just a stand-alone and had stopped at the first book.
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book event · discussion

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas Signing

**This post is spoiler free on ACOTAR and TOG series**

On one uneventful day I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a tweet from the wonderful Sarah J Maas. Three words in this tweet made my heart jump into my mouth: UK book tour. I quickly grabbed my phone and sent a text to my writer friend Jenny telling her that the possibility of us not going simply wasn’t a option. We booked tickets and the antagonising wait began.

I have to hang my head in shame here because despite getting A Court of Thorns and Roses the day of release, I hadn’t made it past page fifty (life just gets in the way sometimes). So the hour long car journey to Birmingham became half catching up with Jenny as I hadn’t seen her in a while, half reading the book. We arrived to Birmingham with no issues and went on a little adventure to bow down to the Waterstones store that was the venue for the signing. I got so excited by the “queue here for Sarah J Maas event” sign that I fell off the pavement and hurt my ankle. With an hour to go before it started, people were already queuing.

Jenny and I left enough time to eat so we went to my favourite eating place Wagamamas which again was a chance for us to catch up but quickly spiraled into trying to multi-task using chopsticks while reading the book (“Just one more chapter, I promise!” was uttered several times). I ate my Yasi Chan Han so fast due to the mixture of nerves and excitement I was feeling that soon after we paid the bill and made our way back to waterstones where the queue was now stretching around the side of the building. We joined the back and began reading again.

This was my third time at a book signing and honestly if you’re an avid book reader, nothing can compare to the feeling of being surrounded by people, all clutching copies of the book, who love it just as much as you do. Not only that but getting to meet the person behind the words, who strung those beautiful sentences together and created these characters that make you wish it were possible to jump into the book and hug them, is a feeling that there just simply aren’t enough words to do justice. Also, it provides a platform for you to talk to strangers about the book when talking to someone you don’t know might be unfathomable to you in any other situation.

When everyone took their seats the atmosphere was so intense as we stared at the stage where Sarah J Maas would soon make her appearance. When she did, she was greeted by applause and screams. The very timid looking Sarah said a quick hello and then took her seat for the interview part of the signing. I just want to point out that this was Sarah’s THIRD signing of the day and she still looked utterly flawless!

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For those who don’t know, ACOTAR is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a faerie lore twist. The interviewer asked Sarah what other fairy tales she would like to retell to which Sarah responded with The Little Mermaid but wasn’t down for ocean world building or figuring out how mermaid reproduction works (Sarah loves her sexy scenes).

Questions were asked over how Sarah came up with the character Celaena in Throne of Glass. She launched into a story about how in seventh grade (year 8 to us English people) she felt that you could either be a girly girl or a nerdy tomboy, but you couldn’t be both. She chose girly girl because she thought it was the cooler option and she stopped reading, pretended she was an airhead, and that she hated things like Indiana Jones until one day when she went “hang on, why can’t I paint my nails while watching Indiana Jones?” She liked the idea of creating a character who was badass but also had that “stereotypical” girly side. The idea for Celaena came from when Sarah was watching Disney’s Cinderella and laughing at the Duke’s over-the-top reaction to Cinderella leaving the ball. She thought about what would make the Duke’s reaction valid and joked that maybe Cinderella was an assassin and had left the ball because she’d just tried to kill the prince.

When the topic turned to her writing process she started off by saying “I write the boring shit to get to the sexy stuff” which resulted in several minutes of laughter from both Sarah and the audience. She said that she always has to write linear (beginning – middle – end) and that she has a playlist for each character and listens to that when she needs to get into their heads for a scene. She revealed that she has a mirror behind her computer so that she can act out her scenes using a batman voice, which led her on to say that she could never write in coffee shops or any other public place because she’d probably get thrown in jail.

Her advice to aspiring writers was “write as often as you can but remember that it’s important to go out and live your life. You can’t spend it shut away in a room, you need to get out there and talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. Also, there are going to be people out there who tell you that writing isn’t realistic and you can’t make a career from it. Fuck them. Don’t listen to them.”

She then told a really touching story about how her parents were very against her writing and frequently told  her it was more of a hobby and she’d never make a living from it, yet when she rung her mother to tell her that Throne of Glass had made it onto the NY Times bestseller list, her mother said “I regret ever saying those things to you.” I found this so relatable because as a writer myself, I’ve had pretty much all of my family say these things to me, and despite finishing a degree in Creative Writing and English, working on a novel and trying to get a job in publishing, they still think writing is a silly pipe dream for me. So having an author like Sarah who is my total inspiration for writing YA Fantasy and seeing how far she’s come and that some people had traveled over three hours to see her, filled me with hope. And I actually had a little cry after meeting her because I got to tell her how much she inspires me.

I urge everyone who hasn’t yet, to read all of her books because they are just so rich and beautifully written that seriously, you’re missing out if you don’t. And if Sarah ever does an event near you, go to it. Meet other fans of the books, make friends, see how funny, charismatic and almost other-worldly Sarah is. You won’t regret it.

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Check out Sarah J Maas on Twitter

Check out Throne of Glass on Goodreads

Check out A Court of Thorns and Roses on Goodreads

Check out Jenny on Twitter