Warning this review contains big spoilers for A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first book in the series, and minor spoilers for A Court of Mist and Fury. You have been warned!
So, now that you’ve finished A Court of Thorns and Roses, we can talk about the reveal about Tamlin’s court and why he brought Feyre to Prythian. I had one problem with the first book that I didn’t bring up in my review because of spoilers. The book keeps Feyre and the reader in the dark about the fae realms outside the Spring Court.
Turns out there was a reason for it. The curse forced Tamlin and Lucien to keep Feyre in the dark . I loved the twist, but as someone who wanted to know as much as I could about Prythian, I still felt irked at being kept in the dark.
Because Maas kept Feyre and the reader in the dark most of the first book, I wanted the second book to show me more. If you felt the same way I did while reading A Court of Thorns and Roses, boy do I have a book for you! A Court of Mist and Fury delivers on so many levels, but as someone who wanted to see more of Prythian outside the Spring Court, I couldn’t be happier.
While reading A Court of Mist and Fury, I felt like Sarah J. Mass was personally texting me Jon Snow memes. A Court of Mist and Fury looks you straight in the eye and says, “You think you know what’s really going on? You don’t.”
The Stuff I Loved
I want to talk about A Court of Mist and Fury as a continuation for the characters in the overarching series story. Following the events of A Court of Thorns and Roses, Feyre and Tamlin could have lived happily ever after in eternal spring. However, Maas resists the urge to turn A Court of Mist and Fury into a Disney style love story. Instead, she turns everything on its head.
A Court of Mist and Fury also allows its characters to work through the traumatic events of the end of the first book. Feyre goes into a spiral of depression and begins to waste away. At the same time, Tamlin willfully ignores her condition and makes it worse by refusing to listen to her or consider her needs. In the first few chapters of A Court of Mist and Fury, Maas upends many roles characters play in the first book while keeping each character consistent.
Without giving too much away, let’s look at Tamlin’s character for a second. In A Court of Thorns and Roses, Tamlin plays the role of protective High Lord. He loves Feyre and wants to protect her from harm. However, because Amarantha stole most of his power, he felt like he couldn’t fully protect her. With Amarantha gone and his power restored, Tamlin can be the protector he wants to be.
Tamlin tries to protect Feyre by keeping her locked away in the Spring Court. He wants to hide her and her new powers away from the other High Lords. His reasoning is they might want to kill her or use her against him. In Tamlin’s mind, since he is the High Lord, it is his job to project the strength of the Spring Court. Feyre is a weakness his enemies might exploit if he lets her use her powers.
Tamlin treats Feyre like a comic collector treats a mint condition first printing of their favorite comic. He tries to shield her from the corrupting influences of the outside world by locking her away inside a metaphorical glass case. Tamlin tells himself he’s doing it out of love for Feyre, but he is treating her like a painting only he can marvel at. He even starts to lash out at Lucien when he concludes that his second in command is getting too friendly with his possession.
Unfortunately for him, Feyre is not his to possess, and she has already been changed irrevocably by the outside world. Feyre has changed from the relatively defenseless human woman who entered the mountain. She was reborn as a high fae, and her new powers begin manifesting. She no longer needs to be protected as much as she once did, but Tamlin refuses to listen to her needs or consider her opinion on what her role should be in the Spring Court. This makes her life in the Spring Court a living nightmare in the wake of her trauma under the mountain.
One of the surest signs of a great book is its ability to evoke powerful emotions in the reader. A Court of Mist and Fury evoked a range of powerful emotions almost every chapter for me. Whether it’s a newfound love for one character or an all-consuming hatred for another, this book made me feel intensely. Part of the reason this book is so powerful, at least to me, is its visceral portrayal of depression and how relationships can easily become prisons.
Maas’ portrayal of depression through the aftereffects of Feyre’s trauma is heartbreaking and real. The reader experiences her pain as she wastes away, barely able to function through her day to day life. What makes it worse is that Tamlin makes it worse by isolating her, keeping her from spending time with people outside of his direct supervision. And yet, Feyre feels obligated to stay with him because she loves him and they saved each other under the mountain. Even as she wastes away, it is always her fault in her mind.
This is what abuse looks like. Tamlin, in his obsession with keeping Feyre safe from his enemies, becomes the monster he always feared would hurt her. In trying to protect Feyre, Tamlin stifles her and convinces her to repress her powers. Tamlin’s obsessive need to protect Feyre ultimately puts major strain on their relationship and keeps her in a spiraling depression. But this all starts with his love for her and the need to protect her. Tamlin hasn’t changed; his role in the narrative changed from lover to warden.
Maas shows how hard it is for victims of abusive relationships to escape or reach out for help. While Feyre is stronger in her new fae body than she was, Tamlin is much stronger than her. She knows that if she defies him he could rip her to shreds. And Tamlin makes sure that she doesn’t train to use her powers and get stronger. He wants her to remain weak enough to need him so that she can’t leave him.
Also, Tamlin is the High Lord of the Spring Court. All Feyre’s friends are his subjects and bound by loyalty to him. They all fear his wrath and enable his treatment of Feyre. Feyre has no one in the Spring Court she can go to for help against Tamlin.
It also serves as a reminder that your first love doesn’t have to be your last. It’s a big world out there and I have a feeling Feyre can do better than Tamlin. She needs someone who will treat her as their equal in every way. Someone who will never stifle her growth or what she wants to do. Tamlin can’t face the fact that Feyre’s her own person and not his possession. Her true love is out there somewhere: outside the Spring Court.
Which brings us to another great aspect of A Court of Mist and Fury: the glorious world-building. We finally get to see Prythian outside the Spring Court. Maas does a great job of introducing new characters, fae beasts, and settings, and reintroducing one major character.
That’s all I’ll say about that. I don’t want to spoil anything.
But I will say that I texted a lot of all caps reactions to Alexandra, which she found quite amusing. I hear that she screenshotted them and might make a post of them someday.
The Stuff I Feel Could Have Been Improved
Like in A Court of Thorns and Roses, the ending of A Court of Mist and Fury feels rushed. Maas takes her time with the characters and world-building. That is great, but the bad guy only shows up in the last few chapters. The reader barely sees Hybern. I’d like to take more time expanding on him and the conflict of the series.
Imagine if Darth Vader only showed up when he meets Obi-wan for their duel in Star Wars: A New Hope. Would we care as much about the duel if we hadn’t seen Darth Vader force choke his own officers, or enter the rebel ship and kill the rebel who lied to him? Probably not because the movie wouldn’t have shown us how scary, and awesome, a villain Darth Vader is.
With King Hybern, we don’t see how cool of a bad guy he is until he shows up in the end. Until then, Feyre and the reader are told by several characters how evil Hybern is. But showing us would be better than telling.
That’s the only problem I had with the book. I loved every second of reading A Court of Mist and Fury. Whether it was real portrayals of characters attempting to work through their trauma, unexpected role reversals, or the powerful emotions the book made me feel. A Court of Mist and Fury is even better than the first book, and I would recommend you read this book right now!
After you read A Court of Thorns and Roses of course.