Welcome back for another book review, and what a beautiful book this was to review. As this is book two in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, there may be spoilers if you haven’t read the previous book, but also a few key facts that need mentioning about this book that you might not know if you haven’t read this one, but are unavoidable in a review. I always try and keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible, but there might be a touch of them here.
Having survived Under The Mountain, or rather, having been brought back to life after dying, Feyre has returned to the Spring Court with Tamlin, ready to live that happy ever after dream that sustained her during all the days that she struggled in a cage. But things start to go badly wrong from the moment they return. Tamlin, already with a tendency for control and aggression, becomes more so, not allowing Feyre to so much as leave the manor. They have been back at the Spring Court for three months, and although engaged to be married, things are far from harmonious. Ianthe, a high priestess who will be performing the marriage, has moved into the manor to help Feyre in her adjustment to the new body and life she now has.
Feyre cannot escape the events of Under The Mountain, and neither can she escape the fact that something just doesn’t feel right. She wakes nightly with nightmares, vomiting violently and terrified. Tamlin sleeps – or pretends to sleep – through these nights. She looses weight, and retreats into herself, with no desire to do anything. She wonders secretly why the mating bond hasn’t formed.
On the wedding day, dressed up like a doll, Feyre feels beyond desperate, and mentally begs anything or anyone for help. The next second, Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court appears, ready to claim Feyre for the first time; they made a bargain Under The Mountain. In exchange for him saving her life, she must live with him one week out of the month. And he turns up for the first time as she stalls walking down the aisle.
There are reflections of the story of Hades and Persephone within this bargain, with Rhysand representing all things made of dark and night, the very opposite of Tamlin, who is supposed to be springtime. And from the moment Feyre goes with him, the entire story changes.
When we first meet Rhys in A Court of Thorns and Roses, we are very much given the impression that he isn’t someone to be trusted; that he works for Amarantha, serves only his own interests, and runs the mysterious Night Court, about which Feyre has only heard terrifying things. And yet we come to see Rhysand for who he really is, and he is a far cry from the monster even he portrays himself as.
With the first book being as engaging as it was, it was hard to see how that could be topped. And yet this book blows it out of the water. With twists and turns, plots woven and torn, it’s a stunning piece of modern literature. Fantasy series are becoming more popular, and while this is still a work in progress (thankfully,) and the second of the three series that Sarah J. Maas has written, there is a reason this is a bestseller.
I was originally told this was a young adult series, but given the sex context, personally I feel that might be a mistake. On that note, however, it is brilliant to see representations of positive sex in literature, whether they are being read by teenagers or adults; there are so many books that give young women especially the wrong idea to what to consider acceptable.
Rhysand is a character I easily fell in love with, the more he reveals who he is, and the rest of the court inner circle is just as engaging. Creating a group of friends who all have individual quirks and traits, and support each other without question, made me want to drop into the book and become part of it. As the events of the book unfold, the skills of the group are tested, both together and apart, but they always have each other – even at the very worst.
The dynamic between Feyre and Rhysand is one that is beautiful and perfect in all its imperfections. Two damaged people, learning how to function in a world after the Mountain, with their own demons and nightmares to contend with, and the empathy to understand one another. It’s a relationship slowly built on sarcasm, sexual tension and swear words. And everyone deserves a relationship like that.
This is one of those books that you love so much you are prepared to read on repeat, that stays in your head, and that you can picture so clearly, you fall in love.