Oh, Queen Maas. You’ve won my loyalty. In a captivating second installment to A Court of Thrones and Roses (ACOTAR) I can’t help but wonder if this is one of the most riveting pieces of feminist new adult fiction literature that exists. This is my review of A Court of Misty and Fury; I will be giving my opinions on the characters, the love story and the sex but I will mostly be discussing gender, the patriarchy and abusive relationships. This review does contain spoilers.
“I smelled jasmine first—then saw the stars. A sea of stars flickering beyond glowing pillars of moonstone that framed the sweeping view of endless snow capped mountains. Welcome to the Night Court.”
How could you not ache to travel to the Night Court whilst reading about it? The way that Maas describes the sights, sounds, smells, tastes of each Court, but especially the Night Court... I almost feel like I can really book my flight. Even the architectural details (like that bathtub, where can i get one of those amirite?) left me wanting for nothing. And then there’s Starfell, how sublime was reading about Starfell?
I feel like it’s possible that I could ramble on forever about Rhysand. I don’t think I’m alone in that. We could feel the pull of him in ACOTAR, but here, we fall. A dreamer, someone who has felt deep, guttural pain and still, he dreams, and loves. Oh, does he love. But more on that later. It’s true of all the characters, but especially true of Rhys, Maas has shown that wholly unique characters can still be brought to life, and that Prince Charming rarely comes in the form of someone like Tamlin.
Feyre is both feminine, sexy and soft and also strong and fierce. You don’t have to be one or the other, you don’t have to fit inside the box that society laid out for you. I appreciate this so much, Sarah J Maas.
Feyre admits to Rhysand, “I’m thinking I was a lonely, hopeless person, and I might have fallen in love with the first thing that showed me a hint of kindness and safety.” And that right there is such a powerful lesson to teach women. Humans, really. That we all are deserving of authentic love, kindness and connection. That you don’t have to settle for less than what you deserve.
On page 533, I almost felt as if Feyre was giving her vows to Rhysand, and I felt emotion well behind my eyes, press at my throat. They reminded me of my own wedding day.
“My friend through many dangers. My lover who had healed my broken and weary soul. My mate who had waited for me against all hope, despite all odds.”
The female characters in this book are varied, but all strong. They are complicated, they have depth. Mor, especially, highlights how Maas has painstakingly included such backstories, so much attention to detail. Feyre, about Mor, “a special strength in enduring such dark trials and hardships...and still remaining warm and kind. Still willing to trust—and reach out.”
GENDER ROLES, TOXIC MASCULINITY AND ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS
I begin to hate Tamlin with such simmering rage. He represents all that is wrong the patriarchy. The ways that men believe they own women, the way they believe they control them, have a right to them. The ways in which they tell us what we can wear, what we can say, where we can go and with whom we go. The control that they seek above all, in order to protect their toxic masculinity. When Tamlin imprisoned Feyre, when he began to forbid her comings and goings, stopped including her in conversation, when he lost his temper so completely that Feyre had to cower in fear for her life...my heart ached for every survivor of abuse at the hands of a lover. That is not love, it never will be.
It is interesting to note that during Feyre’s time at the Spring Court how women are permitted to being sexually active. They are permitted to have multiple partners and yet, still held to the rules of the patriarchy, or traditional expectations as Lucien would called them, at being a “good bride”.
Freedom is a topic woven throughout this book. It begins early on when Feyre is discussing how, in the human realm, even wealthy women, who one would assume to be more free, actually have their freedoms and roles restricted the most. Under The Mountain, freedom was but a dream. And to be expected of that tortuous, terrible place. But in her own home? From the man she thought she loved and that she thought loved her? I love that Maas juxtaposes Rhysand next to Tamlin in this way. Rhysand makes it a point to have Feyre know with a conviction that she is free. That freedom is a relationship is an inherent right, not a privilege.
One major critique of mine, though. I do find it upsetting that Rhysand and Feyre resort to this whole “you’re mine” thing. I’m a little disappointed that Maas wrote the story in this way. I understand the concept of the mates, I’m as hopeless of a romantic as the next. But, after talking so much about freedom, to have those two characters then repeatedly claim their right to the other? It felt contradictory and strange. People are not possessions. Individuals don’t belong to anyone, as Rhysand said, freedom in a relationship is an inherent right, so I just felt it was really off to include the “you’re mine” thing.
A WORD ON SEX
ICYMI this is not a “young adult” book. This is some new kinky adult trip, feel me? I’m talking Fifty Shades of Gray type of orgasming. Let’s just say that I noticed there were 69 chapters, and I don’t think that was a coincidence.
Speaking of orgasming, I get that it’s a book but do you think just ONCE we could get a woman that is too distracted by the enemy/concerns about her body/the laundry that needs folded/her ex that she is unable to reach completion? I won’t hold my breath.
Don’t get me wrong, this book has its steamy moments. I appreciated that Rhysand and Feyre didn’t rush into the physical aspect; Rhysand put her pleasure before his own. AND to make my conviction about this being an excellent piece of feminist literature, Rhys and Feyre even discuss birth control.