Book (and Audiobook) Review: A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury

Details:

Title: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (book), Recorded Books (Audiobook)

Release Date: May 3rd 2016

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 624 (hardcover) 670 (paperback)

Narrated by: Jennifer Ikeda

Read time: 23 hours and 17 minutes

Synopsis:

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.

My First Thoughts:

I was pretty surprised by how much I liked the first book, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and I was intrigued by how Maas would continue the tale. In the previous book she left things pretty wide open, Feyre with new possibilities and a few loose strands that never got tied up. I think that made me the most excited, and willing to read this book, was one of the final scenes in the previous one: the odd departure of Rhys from the balcony before everyone left the mountain. That scene alone made me want to read the sequel.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

Boy am I glad that I decided to listen to this sequel! The first book wasn’t terrible, not my favorite from the author, but the world and characters were interesting enough to keep me reading (or listening in this case). As sequels go, Maas did a fantastic job with A Court of Mist and Fury! Everything that I loved in the first book, the characters, the world, the history, the intriguing new species, all appeared in this book and were expanded way beyond my hopes.

The book is over 600 pages long borderline 700, the audio is almost 24 hours, and I never got bored once. Sometimes, especially when it comes to long fantasy stories, that’s really hard for an author to pull off. But Maas was able to spin a story full of romance, intrigue, history, character development, and action that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time!

A Court of Mist and Fury was full of so much creativity that I marvel and wonder about how strong her imagination is and what it’s like to be in her head. If you thought her other series or the previous book had a lot of description, then you’ll be in for a surprise. I would have to guess that about 30% of the book is pure world building, either with physical descriptions, various clothing styles of the courts visited or visiting, various new species, and history, so much history. While some people find all of that to be boring, I absolutely loved it! If an author creates a new world never thought of before, then I want them to describe to me what they created and what they see. I find the story more enjoyable if I can submerse myself in the history, either of the lands or people, or of the characters themselves, so that I can truly understand the reasons behind their various actions. Maas also does a fantastic job of making the various mentioned courts unique, and even some of the cities and places visited in each. She makes each place memorable and easy to create within your own mind, which can be difficult for some authors or some just don’t bother. And sure, there were several paragraphs dedicated to clothing description, especially when the characters dressed up, but I actually enjoyed that too. I enjoyed “seeing” what various courts wore, or what the various characters wore as well, and in some ways Maas used the clothing descriptions as foreshadowing or used them to show character growth. And don’t get me started on her fae species, I could talk for several more sentences or even paragraphs about that part. But in short, Maas doesn’t really use a lot of the more common Fae in her stories, sure a few of them show up, but she also uses some of the more obscure ones or even creates some of her own, which I believe is a mark for her creativity.

As much as I love Maas’s descriptions and world building, I love her characters even more. With this installment of the series you get a whole new cast of characters. Some are brief but still impressionable, while others are more lasting and surprisingly quirky. I didn’t know how I felt about some of the new characters, I disliked some at first and by the end there was only one that I still disliked, and for good reason apparently! Each new character is not quite unique, but memorable. They each have their own little quirks, the things that get them riled, and their own history, even if it is brief. But the interactions between the various characters was the best part. Maas used their interactions to really show who each of them were, and even used it as growth for some of the main characters from the previous book. They were funny, some were rather snippy, angry, or sad, but all the interactions seemed realistic, not forced, but natural and smooth.

In my review of the previous book I talked about how much I enjoyed the character development in the story, especially of the more minor characters. Well, Maas did it again and absolutely delighted me with the great and small character development of both main and minor characters. I could really see how the characters felt for each other and how their relationships changed as they went through more and more together. And it was the little things too that added to the development, not just big scenes or action or events. Sometimes the little things played a bigger role in the change than the larger ones.

In the first book I liked Feyre, but I didn’t love her as much as I hoped I could. In this book, I grew to love her more than I ever thought I could. I think she had the most development in this book and her character tickled me pink! I’ve seen other authors put their heroines through traumatic experiences, ones that would totally change and damage a person, but then in the next book their completely fine, no mental damage, not change in personality, nothing. Maas doesn’t do that with Feyre. Instead, Maas shows you a broken, beaten young woman who did everything she could for those she loved, and still lost so much of herself that the repercussions were great. Maas shows the consequences to Feyre’s psyche do to her trials at the end of the previous story and it’s the first time that I feel like an author portrayed PTSD beyond the stereotypes and quick Google searches. And it’s because Maas understood how broken her heroine would be, that I grew to appreciate Feyre, especially when she realizes what has happened to herself and she tries to change it. Because of her PTSD, which is never actually named in the story, Feyre had the biggest character development of all and one that I felt wasn’t forced either. Even broken, Maas showed her heroine to be strong and not in a butch or bitchy way.

I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal. I was a survivor, and I was strong. I would not be weak, or helpless again. I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.

The last thing that I will talk about here is the story itself. If I could rename the book it would be either A Court of Plot Twists and Drama or A Court Internal Squeals and Fangirling, either would be perfectly fine, in my opinion…Anyways, this book has so much drama that it’s dripping off the pages. Now, that’s not a mark against the book, on the contrary. A Court of Thorns and Roses, in my opinion, didn’t have a lot of action or real plot for most of the book, it read more like a collection of experiences within a few months. It was a set up book, fine. A Court of Mist and Fury, however, was the book I was hoping the other one to be. There was so much action and tales of adventure that actually lend to the plot of the story. When there wasn’t action there was drama, so much drama, but it was fun and interesting, it sounded so real and I could actually understand where the drama came from and why. And the plot twists, most of them I didn’t even see coming until right before it happened or not at all. Now, I normally pride myself in figuring out big reveals and twists before they occur, that’s why I get really excited when I’m bested by an author. Maas is a worthy opponent, and her twists had me squealing and screaming to the point that I believe my family thought me mad. Some of them were small, others colossal, but none of them made me sit there and question why they occurred. Once they revealed themselves I was able to go back and actually see the clues, the subtle signs, and the reasoning behind the characters’ actions. All in all, this story was fantastic from the little details to the big scenes, from the minor, small characters to the main characters, from description and history to the big and small reveals.

Final Thoughts:

I would recommend this book to those who loved, or even liked or barely liked, A Court of Thorns and Roses. This story is so much fun and much, much better than the previous.

I do have to say though, while the story was 30% descriptive, I’d say it was also 60% plot and 10% sex. Yea, there’s a lot of sex and sexual tension in this book, or at least, more than I was expecting for a ‘Young Adult’ novel. And it went into much more detail than I was anticipating as well, it wasn’t briefly mentioned, no there are actual scenes within the book and they went a bit more beyond than what they did in the previous novel. However, the scenes are not quite on the same level as Adult novels or the famed ‘Adult Romance’ novels. So for anyone with younger children, don’t let them read this book unless you’re comfortable with that. I don’t believe that books have specific ‘ages’ but they do generally target a specific audience, and if you’re an adult with a child that wants to read this book or series, seriously think on that. In reality, this book belongs in the New Adult category with a target of older teens and 20 somethings, but it can be read by anyone comfortable with the violence, gore, and sex.

Rating(s):

Story: 5/5

A Court of Mist and Fury is bloody fantastic! I had so much fun listening to it and it kept me up late at night, on the edge of my bed. It was everything I wished its predecessor was and so much more. It’s 600-700 pages, or 24 hours (listening time), of pure fun, drama, romance and intrigue. And with the ending, which wasn’t really a cliffhanger more like a bookmark in a longer story, I’m already dying for the next installment. I can’t wait to see what Maas does with this story or her characters, and I can’t wait to see what hell Feyre will bring to the world.

Narration: 5/5

As before, I absolutely loved the narration by Jennifer Ikeda. She might have been the first to narrate a story to me as an adult, but she is by far my favorite. I loved how she brought the characters to life, and even her male voices weren’t too bad. She was able to craft her voice in such a way that their various personalities showed through as she spoke for each character. Her reading was neither slow nor fast, but it never kept the same rhythm. If the story demanded action then she read a little faster than normal, if the characters were thinking then she drew out there thoughts a little, giving time to appear as if they were slowly putting the pieces together. All in all, she did a fantastic performance of the book and she will always be the voice of Feyre, even if I may read the book myself.

Related Reviews/Books:

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Book Review: Queen of Shadows

Queen of Shadows

Welcome to October! Even though this is the first review of the month, I’m still counting it with September, just because I finished the book in the last week and had to wait until now to post it. Enjoy!

Details:

Title: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Release Date: September 1, 2015

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Paranormal

Pages: 648

Synopsis:

The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

My First Thoughts:

The. Cover. Is. Gorgeous! I loved this cover when I first saw it released and I love it now as I hold it in my hands! And my word it is heavy! I think that with more than 600 pages, I would classify this book as a doorstopper, and don’t get me wrong, that’s not an insult. I’ve waited so patiently for so long and I’m so ready to read what Aelin does next!

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

Honestly, I don’t understand why so many people had issues with this book. Yes, the characters changed. They went through a lot of challenging trials and traumatic events, so it’s no surprise that their personalities changed, it’s called character development, and they don’t always change for the better. Yes, Aelin has always been a bit full of herself, so if you give her immense power and a responsibility that not many have, then it’s not that hard to see her still being full of herself, she’s just a bit more mature now. Just because a fan doesn’t like the different changes doesn’t mean that the characters went OOC or the author was just writing fanficition, that’s just no!

And I will admit that Choal’s behavior at the beginning of the book was a bit harsh and annoying, but honestly he was still grieving and trying to cope with what was happening. His actions were a bit understandable. Sorry, rant over. Don’t read the comments to a book you’ve been looking forward to for a while, it can ruin the experience and paint a false picture.

On a different note, holy gods, was this an adventure! Demons, and witches, and warrior Fea, oh my! The different character interactions just made me giddy and stole my heart! And was it just me, or does it seem like Sarah J. Maas is turning up the heat on the more romantic side of things? While it doesn’t quite read like an Adult or New Adult book, it does read like the author is trying to get the book to age and change with the audience it started with. I loved some of the ways that she creatively had her characters curse without actually cursing; it was rather amusing to fill in the words myself. On this note, I would say that this book is definitely more on the 16+ side of Young Adult fiction!

I know that this isn’t the first book in the series to do this, but I have really enjoyed reading through more than just the main heroine’s perspective. It was fun and informing to read from both sides of the playing field, and it gave readers a much wider view of what was going on. Honestly, it reminded me of some of the higher fantasy series that deal with a large cast of characters and multiple perspectives. It was nice to read about the internal conflicts of the other characters, and the opposite side, that you wouldn’t get if the story was strictly told through Aelin’s point of view. Reading about the smaller story arcs that involved the other characters was so much fun, and really heart breaking. Don’t get me started about Manon’s growing arc! All of this makes the story, and the world that it was in, much rounder and flavorful and attention grabbing.

Sarah J. Maas has definitely spent a lot of time building this world. Not only does she have varying countries and habitats, but she also has varying people and cultures. It isn’t easy creating more than one culture, making them completely different but somewhat similar at the same time. And she also has a nonhuman culture too that she spent time fleshing out, which was enjoyable to read and piece together.

I do have to say one thing that I did not care for in her world and character building, and that was her excessive use of midnight and night. I’m not sure why she used those two words so much, but most of the time she used them outside of their literal meaning. They replaced the color black, they were used to describe emptiness and silence, especially how quietly something moved or spoke, and other actions. It got really old to say the least. If I had a penny for every time that Maas used either midnight or night, I would have enough money to buy another stack of hardcovers.

Final Thoughts:

I can’t stress this enough, but don’t read other people’s comments, and if you do take them for a grain of salt. This book was almost ruined for me because a lot of people who got an early copy of the book flung crap at it for not being their dream child.

Anyways, if you enjoy a fantasy series that is similar to Game of Thrones, except without all of the really gory stuff and the raunchy flavor, then Throne of Glass is for you! If not, well this series is becoming increasingly like other popular fantasy novels, and may not be your cup of tea.

If you don’t mind more characters being added to the already beloved cast, then this book won’t let you down. If you don’t mind reading more about these newer characters, or even some of the older ones, then you’re in luck because there’s character development to go around, including a nice helping of backstory!

And if you’ve been waiting for some of the story’s arcs to finally close for good, then you’re in luck! However, that doesn’t mean that the series is over, oh no, it’s far from over. As the saying goes, as one door closes another opens, and Maas throws open a pretty hefty door by the end!

And I do have to warn you, some ships sink, while others are built and set sail…

Rating(s):

4.5/5

This book was definitely worth the wait, and one of my favorites! It was nice to finally put a face and personality to some of the names that were just thrown around for the longest time, and it was nice to see some of the story’s arcs come to a close. While some doors were nicely closed, a few of them may have been slammed, others were open wide to make room for the next few books. The book kept my attention and stole too much time away from my homework and sleep, I always had to read the next page. I actually looked rather goofy caring this doorstopper of a book around campus from class to class.

Maas definitely knows how to handle and write a pretty lengthy cast of characters, keeping them separate enough to make them distinguishable from the others. She did a good job fleshing out her old and new characters by adding more character development and background story. It was really interesting to read how a lot of the characters were linked together, and guess at how some will be linked in the future. Sometimes it felt like I was looking at this giant tapestry that told several different stories that came together at certain points, but diverging again.

The reason this book doesn’t get the full five stars is because of her excessive use of midnight and night. They can be good words to spice up your descriptions, but they were a bit overused and ended up annoying me every time I read over them. The only other mark against the book is that I found a lot of simple mistakes that should have been caught by an editor. There weren’t so many mistakes that it appeared unprofessional, however there were enough to catch my attention and pull me out of the reading from time to time. While Maas’s storytelling is improving, I think her writing style needs some finer tuning and a better editor!

Related Reviews/Books:

Here’s another fantasy, while not quite like the Throne of Glass series, it’s still a dark fantasy to read!

Sea of Shadows