Hi Friends! For those of you who may not know, I’m a late book-bloomer. I took a 5-year reading hiatus while I was in university to focus on my studies and to sort out my mental health. But now that I’m back—as in me, the bookworm—I’m desperately trying to catch up on ALL THE BOOKS i missed! I’m slightly ashamed to admit that the name Sarah J. Maas was completely foreign to me, but her books seemed right up my alley. So, come June I decided to finally see what these supposed weapons of Maas destruction* were all about… and boy was I NOT ready! Rather than write three separate posts I figured I’d go ahead and combine them. Below you’ll find three brief, SPOILER-FREE not-a-reviews to give you the gist of what I thought of each book, followed by a more in-depth review of the series as a whole.
*I take NO credit for this… I got it from pinterest/tumblr… and it is 100% legit, so I’m going to use it! Whoever came up with this, Cauldron bless you!
“My prison or my salvation—I couldn’t decide which.”
Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Genre: YA, fantasy
Page count: 421
Originally published: May 2015
Beauty and the Beast meets fairies… and death and destruction. Feyre Archeron kills a fae sentry while hunting to feed her starving family. As payment, her life is forfeit to the very beings she fears and hates. She is dragged into a political and romantic whirlwind that blindsides her as she tries to figure out which of the stories she’s heard are true and which are false.
Entertainment value: Rereader [ ★★★★ ]
Did I enjoy this book? Yes
Do I think the read a waste of time? No
Would I read it again? Yes… BUT only to reread the series
*The only reason I bumped this up from 3 to 4 stars is because I know without a doubt that I will reread it, probably many times, so that I can reread the entire series.
Title: A Court of Mist and Fury
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy
Page count: 626
Originally published: May 2016
Beauty and the Beast takes a turn. Sarah J. Maas flipped her own table with this one. Take the romance of the first book, turn that fast boil down to a slow, agonizing simmer, and add in a heist! Not to mention that she turned the character and world development up to max, all while managing to perfectly balance all the action with that serious sexual tension! Count me in, 10010%! (so I typed that while saying “one hundred and ten percent!” in my mind… but ten thousand and ten percent works too) ACOMAF finds Feyre dealing with what happened Under the Mountain and a role at court she doesn’t want. This is the story of someone putting themselves back together only to find out the pieces don’t fit back together in quite the same way. On top of trying to find out how and where she now fits in, Feyre must also face the bargain she made under the mountain on top of the task of preventing war.
Entertainment value: YAAASSSS!!! [ ★★★★★ ]
Did I enjoy this book? YESYESYESYESYESYES!!!!!
Do I think the read a waste of time? Never!
Would I read it again? Can I read it again now?
Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin
Genre: YA, fantasy
Page count: 699
Originally published: May 2017
“high lady quote” I feel like the first part of this book is a hit or miss with most people. Personally, it was a hit for me. Feyre is back in the Spring Court and ready to f*** some s*** up! This book is really seriously character driven. Feyre is again tasked with trying to prevent war descending on Prythian and we get some serious pay-offs in this book! ACOWAR gives us more sass, more scheming, and yes…more pain.
Entertainment value: YAAASSSS!!! [ ★★★★★ ]
Did I enjoy this book? YES!
Do I think the read a waste of time? Absolutely not!
Would I read it again? YES!
If you’re looking for something a bit more in depth, a bit more personal, feel free to keep reading. If not, congratulations! That’s it! You’re done! Now, go read a book—or three (or not)!
***If you’ve come this far, but have not read the series or are only part way through, proceed at your own risk! SPOILERS DO LIE AHEAD, like tiny dragons waiting to snatch all of your golden innocence away to add to their treasure trove. ***
If you want a spoiler-free review of each book, click the links below to be redirected to my spoiler-free goodreads reviews:
Feyre! Rhysand! Court of Dreams! Nesta! So much love for so many characters! Okay Jessica, slow down… start at the beginning, break it down.
“He’s playing a dangerous game, though,” Lucien said, slipping out the door. “We all are.”
Feyre > Right off the bat, I REEEAAALLLYYY wanted to like Feyre, but there was something that just didn’t connect with me. I still can’t put my finger on what that was. Maybe it was her shaky relationship with her family—that’s something that always nags at me. Whatever it was, I very quickly came to love her and empathize with her as a character. The stronger she got and the more obstacles, physical and mental, that she overcame, the more I loved her! The end of book two was when I knew I absolutely adored her! She’s been through so much by the time we meet her in book 1 that she isn’t much of a person. At that point, she’s kind of just a shell of horrible memories and empty experiences. But she grows into such a strong and independent woman who loves every aspect of who she is—the good and bad.
Rhysand > Please excuse my drooling here. I haven’t fangirled so hard over a fictional character since shadowhunters came into my life eight years ago! I mean, we’ve got a depiction of an actual healthy relationship, complete with sarcasm. I love his character so much because, besides the obvious, he’s a rarity in YA books. His character shows that you can in fact change and grow as a person and fall in love with someone else, AND THAT’S OKAY!
Tamlin > I knew that he was the main love interest of book one, but he (and the way Feyre romanticized him) REALLY irritated me, pretty much right from the start, all the way up until the meeting between courts in book three. At that point I was a bit disappointed when he disappeared. What! I know, but hear me out—in ACOTAR, Tamlin was made out to be this infallible god-like male and it actually made me happy—after I got over the pain—when he turned out to be a bad guy.
The Dream Team > So. Many. Ships. Each of these characters (including Nesta, Elain, and Lucien) are so broken in their own way and deal with their struggles with such unique strengths. On top of that, they have such a great dynamic as a group. I could easily—and happily—read a book that revolves around these characters that had zero plot. Kind of like how we all want sitcom-esque depictions with superheroes…that’s what I want with these characters in book form. As usual, I don’t think I’ll get it.
Can’t contain the feels, so again, I’ll go in parts.
“We need hope, or else we cannot endure.”
ACOTAR > I loved the idea of a Beauty and the Beast reimagining, and Sarah definitely delivered! It is a really interesting spin on the classic fairy tale we all know and love— if you don’t love Beauty and the Beast, you’re wrong. Sorry. I found the first half or so of ACOTAR to be a slow build up that was a really weird contrast to the tense ride that was Feyre completing her tasks Under the Mountain. It’s like this switch was flipped and suddenly I was reading a VERY different book. The task-completing, while fantastic, was not what I expected. The first book works great as a standalone— the plot of ACOTAR is it’s own beast… ha, see what I did there. That being said, that plot folds in nicely with the expansion of books two and three.
ACOMAF > Who really cares if there’s a plot in this book? The characters are fantastic enough on their own. Just give me my Dream Team sitcom! Seriously though, the plot of this book was fantastic! I mean:
A great idea in a great setting (ACOTAR) + new and amazing characters^293 + romancey drama + political drama + realistic depictions of mental struggle and healing + A FREAKING HEIST!!! + weapons of Maas destruction = one HELL of a book!
If you haven’t been able to tell, heist novels hit me in all my warm and fuzzy spots—I love the character composition of them and it just feels like you’re getting SOMEWHERE every step of the way. In the case of SJM, that SOMEWHERE was absolute torture and heartbreak!
“Tell me what you see.”
“A world divided in two.”
ACOWAR > All that happened in Hybern is forgiven because part one of this book just spoke to my soul! I know this part annoyed some people, but I personally loved every word. Never have I loved a main character’s manipulation of other characters SOSOSO much. After Tamlin’s betrayal in book two it was so satisfying to see Feyre tear his court apart—even if it didn’t quite go as planned. If book two is any indicator of how horrible things can get, prepare your feels for book three. There are hints dropped throughout ACOWAR about Rhys’s tendency to sacrifice himself to save others. That, along with how he pushes Feyre to be her own type of leader rather than just a conduit for his leadership (can you tell I just finished the book…I don’t think I’ve ever used that word in a sentence before) brings us to maximum emotions at the climax of book three. Feyre’s growth as a leader, and Rhys’s prompting of said growth, actually had me terrified that the heartbreak was permanent this time and that I’d never recover. Thank god Sarah J Maas has a heart.
The world of Prythian is wonderfully imagined. Even though it was great, I wanted SO MUCH MORE worldbuilding from the first book. I felt like a lot got left behind in the making of that “epic” Feylin romance. I kept finding myself going back to that giant map with the two islands and the huge continent and thinking, “okay, why is there a ginourmous map when we only go here, here, and here? Three places—that’s it! Why isn’t this map just of the lower half of Prythian?” As a standalone, the worldbuilding doesn’t work so well. But, luckily this is a series, and ALL THE WORLDBUILDING is thrown at you in books two and three. We thankfully go beyond the empty walls of Tamlin’s estate and the shadowy, evil court of Amarantha to see more courts, more cultures, more history, more politics, and more magic! I loved the tie-in of the Weaver and the Bone Carver in book three!
“To the people who look at the stars and wish, Rhys.”
Rhys clinked his glass against mine. “To the stars who listen— and the dreams that are answered.”
ACOTAR > For me, this one was a little slow. Right from the beginning, it took a lot longer than I thought for anything to come of Feyre killing the wolf—not that it took long, just longer than my impatient ass wanted to wait. Things didn’t really pick up at the spring court or when Tamlin sent Feyre home—things ALMOST picked up when Rhysand discovered Feyre at the spring court, but her time back with her family dragged the story back down a little. For me, the turning point of this book, from slow to HOLY S***BUCKETS, was when Feyre decided to go back across the wall.
ACOMAF > This book, by far has the best flow of this series. There’s just so much going on—action, character and setting introductions, character development, political stuff. With everthing Sarah put into book two, it would’ve been almost impressive if it had been a slow ride. The flow of book three was more on par with the flow of book one, but it was SO much more enjoyable because I was so much more invested in the characters and their relationships with each other. That was probably the big thing lacking in book one for me; it’s definitely what made the difference in the flow of the books. I just didn’t find myself invested enough in any of the characters besides Feyre (and Rhysand) in ACOTAR.
“What we think to be our greatest weakness can sometimes be our biggest strength.”
ACOWAR > I know some people found the start of this book slow with Feyre at the Spring Court, but as I said, I loved this part. So I found this book t be a great ride, until the middle when we were back in Velaris. For me, things slowed down a bit there. I mean, how long does it take to read a damn book? But once you get to that point in your reading where you notice there’s only so many pages left and still SO MANY THINGS—that’s exactly when this book picked up and didn’t let up.
As a whole > I’d say it’s pretty darn good. If you read through the series back to back, you get to ease into the pain. So maybe it’s a good thing that book one gets into things a bit more slowly. Revel in the innocence.
Everything about these books—the plot, the characters, the worldbuilding, the heartbreak—grew exponentially with each installment. It’s no wonder Sarah J Maas wanted (or maybe needed) to continue to series. And I’m not complaining. I LOVED this series as a whole, it was entertaining from start to finish. Not to mention I’m a sucker for having my heart broken. If I’m sitting there screaming at my book like a pterodactyl while reading it, it means it’s GOOD. ACOMAF was without a doubt my favorite book of the three, and the only reason I’ll probably reread ACOTAR is simply to reread the series… and to look for all the Feysand hints—who am I kidding.
“It’s a rare person to face who they are and not run from it – not be broken by it.”
I was going to add in my favorite and least favorite things from the series-but I think I’ll save that for another post, perhaps after a rereading. In the meantime…