Author: Sarah J Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Genre(s): New Adult, High Fantasy, Retelling
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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.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.
Fair warning, this review has all the spoilers because I tried super hard to write one without discussing SPOILER and SPOILER and how SPOILER DID SPOILER and…you can see how that turned out.
I'm so conflicted and tumultous. It’s been three days since I finished ACOMAF but I realised today my chaotic, weird feelings about this book aren’t dying anytime soon. WHAT WAS THAT BOOK EVEN. I am feeling WAY too many things right now and I want to explore each one of them in greater detail.
I gave ACOTAR 4 stars when I first read it, 3 stars when I wrote my review, and it sagged very much in my opinion even after that. At the time I started ACOMAF, I fully expected to hate it as much as I hated ACOTAR and only read on because I thought Sarah would surprise me...which she did.
In ACOTAR, Tamlin was an asshole. The minute he denied Feyre her cake, I had my defenses up. But his spinelessness in the last third of the book was really what sealed the deal for me, and I wondered how any of what Tamlin did could even remotely be construed as romantic. Some part of me wonders if Sarah J Maas allowed this Feyre-Tamlin mess to go on for as long as it did to fully allow the readers to appreciate (in retrospect) what a tangled, tragic, abusive mess that was. Some twisted parts of me revels in the way Tamlin wasn’t painted as Bad Guy Number 1 from the beginning. Hell, he was the hero in this BatB retelling, what could he ever do wrong. But as Maas continued to distance herself from the fairy tale that loosely inspired ACOTAR in ACOMAF, it became very apparent that Tamlin was anything but Feyre’s saviour.
There are very obvious parallels to Feyre’s relationship with Rhysand, who thank god gets wayyy more face time than Tamlin. I am not going to lie, Sarah J Maas does unresolved tension and banter like no one else and I’d be flat out lying if that wasn’t a huge reason why I kept reading because I had to see that tension resolved goddammit. But now that I’ve, um calmed down, I’m just going to say it: the romance wasn’t….ideal. I appreciate Maas fleshing out Tamlin's assholery and effectively showing his possessive alpha male territorial crap for what it was exactly. It was a nuanced, subtle thing, and I love that so much of the book was devoted to exploring that. I even concede that there needed to be this level of emphasis on romance for this to be fully realized. There are so many Rhys/Tamlin parallels and many painful scenes where Feyre realizes how broken her relationship with Tamlin was, that drives this concept completely home, and I'm very glad that a book about Fae, the genre oft used to romanticize obviously pretty unbalanced and/or borderline abusive relationships depicts this.
BUT. The Rhys/Feyre romance was still not ideal. Not telling Feyre about her bond, SO NOT COOL BRO. Making her read stuff like "Rhys is the best lover you've ever had" or "Rhysand is the most delightful High Lord" was creepy and not even remotely funny let alone romantic to me. Besides this, there was some freaky S Meyer shit going down there which I was 100% not on board with? Why is “mating” a thing? Why is the idea of one perfect mate touted again and again in fae stories? Elain becoming fae and then Lucien proclaiming her to be his mate? Whyyyyyy? I am so upset that is a thing that happened and will likely be a large plot point in book 3, we need to stop romanticizing this crap like 10 years ago? Also we get it, Rhys and Feyre are madly in love but why does the stupid mating bond have to make them compulsively bang each other? Why this trope didn't just die with Breaking Dawn is beyond me. Dont? You? Realize? That 324 sex scenes? Makes it get real old? Real fast?
I know it sounds like I hated a lot of the book, but honestly I’m surprised the book didn’t explode in my hands, so chock-full of clichés that it was. Pointless secrets used as plot devices, convenient “festivals” for the mushy conversations and almost-make out scenes, weird monster names, this book literally had it all.
The pacing of this book was pretty meh too. This book should have been two books. We were robbed of so much action and intrigue and mystery solving for character development (which I'm not saying isn't important), but the book was a LOT of conversations and recovery and backstory-telling and then like ONE page of action, rinse, repeat. As much as I enjoyed the character development, thr half baked action seriously affected my liking of the book. A lot of the actiony parts were either too "easy" or rushed and details were left out and that made me very grumpy. I’d have loved to see how Az dealt with the mortal queens, I’d have liked some more struggle with the mortal queens or the Bone Carver, I’d have liked to watch Amren work with the book. I’m all for books that are more about character growth than action (Heir of Fire), but if you’re going to do the action, I need it whole-assed, not half-assed.
But okay, okay, okay, I didn’t hate the book, really. I did enjoy myself for some parts of it. Sarah J Maas does world building, prose, and banter like literally no one else that I know and watching her expand her universe beyond the Spring Court into Velaris, Adriatia, and the Summer Court was so much fun. The world in ACOMAF becomes much more layered and complex and the backstory that she dedicated, especially to the secondary characters was incredibly layered and rich in detail.
That squad kept me together through this book and I will be you anything, Maas wrote those scenes to scenes of Bellamy and co. in the rover, ha. Morrigan is possibly my favorite character of the book. We get to see more of Nesta! Prickly, steely, strong, wonderful Nesta will have a decidedly larger role to play in book 3 and I’m suppper excited to watch her come into her own. Amren is like….Manon’s soul sister. There is no other way to put it. She is cold and vicious, but there’s a lot of sorrow in her actions and character that I bet Maas is keeping from us for good reason. Secondary characters, best characters, basically. I suppose I should also mention Rhys. I was very surprised with the turn his character took this book. I knew he was probably intended as Feyre’s love interest but his internal growth and change was a lot of fun to watch. I wish this book was written in third person though, because I feel like I really only know him through Feyre’s eyes. I hope we get a Rhys POV next book.
The book ended with the biggest of cliffhangers and everything was a mess including us, as Sarah dropped the mic and walked away and I’m just wondering what I will do without my Illyrian warriors and Nesta until freaking 2017. If you hated ACOTAR or dnf’d it (and then read this sort of spoilery review, ha), I definitely encourage you to power through that crap to ACOMAF.
I cannot wait to see how my squad kills it in book 3.