Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: February 16, 2021
Series or Standalone:A Court of Thorns and Roses #4
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
CW: suicidal thoughts, pregnancy, difficult birth, discussion of past sexual assault, flashbacks to sexual assault, PTSD, depression, death, violence
I wasn’t planning on reviewing this book at all while I was reading it. However, it gave me so many emotions that I felt like I needed to process some of them on paper. When it comes to the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, better known as ACOTAR in the book world, it seems you either love it or hate it. I fall more on the love side, though I definitely don’t think these books are perfect.
A Court of Silver Flames shifts the focus over to Nesta Acheron and Cassian and dealing with the fallout of the war with Hybern. Nesta has a lot of trauma to work through, and after her friends stage an intervention, she’s forced to confront her inner demons. Meanwhile, peace is fragile in Prythian, and the human queens are up to some mischief that news to be stopped.
Was this book too long? Yes. Were there parts of this book that could have been edited out? For sure. Do I care? No, not at all.
My feelings towards Maas as a writer are a bit complicated. She BADLY needs an editor who will help clean up the writing and tighten up the story. Many of her books are unnecessarily long, with miscellaneous scenes that could be cut as they add nothing to the story. She has weird phrases she likes to overuse. And yet…I find I don’t care that much as the stories and plots she pulls together are amazing. In every book, she ends up sucking me in with the plot and all the twists and turns that she weaves in. And she also writes some pretty great characters.
One of the things about A Court of Silver Flames that made this book so special to me was Nesta. I’ve always been fascinated by Nesta in the original ACOTAR books – she was always way more interested than Feyre. A lot of people don’t like her, and I can see that, but I love Nesta. She is one of Maas’ most flawed characters, which makes her feel incredibly human. What makes this book so special is the journey that Maas takes Nesta on. It’s so raw, painful and real. She was hurting so much at the beginning of the book as she deals with multiple mental health issues, including PTSD, depression and alcohol abuse. She’s closed herself off to those close to her and lashes out at everyone. Nesta has learned to cope with her personal demons by the end of the book and is physically stronger with a core group of friends and family who have her back.
The exploration of PTSD and depression was fascinating. It’s not something I was expecting to happen in this book, but it felt so authentic. My heart was hurting so much for Nesta throughout this story. The grief and anger were palpable. When she finally broke down to Cassian, I cried with her. I thought Maas handled the mental health issues very well as it wasn’t glorified or dismissed. She showed the struggles of dealing with it on the daily and how much strength it takes to live with mental health issues every day.
Another thing I loved about this book was the female friendship. Nesta has a complicated relationship with her family, and I was so glad she ended up finding a found family of sorts with the Valkyries. Truly, what a badass group of women they end up becoming. They all needed the training and to build their outer strength to help deal with their inner demons. I totally wasn’t expecting the ending of this book where Nesta, Gwyn and Emerie basically end up in a Hunger Games-esque setting.
Now onto the romance. I loved Nesta and Cassian together. I loved how he was there for Nesta when she was hurting and let her hurt but wouldn’t let her sink into the despair that could destroy her. They bring out the best in each other. I’ve also always found Cassian a way more fun and entertaining male lead than Rhys. Rhys was a bit too overbearing for my tastes (and he got WORSE in this book), but Cassian knows how to step aside and let Nesta make her own choices and mistakes. HOWEVER. This book had a LOT of sex scenes. I hate the phrase “smutty books,” but this book felt like that. I read a lot of romance, so I’m not shy about sex scenes, but this book almost felt like it had too many?? Not all of them needed to be included, as only a few really added to the story or moved the plot forward. All the sex scenes almost took away from the romance a bit as it seemed like they were just hot for each other’s body when the feelings for both of them ran much deeper.
A few other things I quickly want to hit on. First, Rhys really frustrated me in the book. I liked him in the original series, but I didn’t like how he acted towards Nesta or Feyre in this book. Speaking of Feyre, I wasn’t the biggest fan of her storyline and characterization in this book. I didn’t like how Feyre’s storyline ended up with Nesta giving up some of her power. Finally, I’m very interested in seeing what will happen in the next book as the plot wrapped up a bit too nicely even though I’m sure more important things are at work.
A Court of Silver Flames is a beast of a book, yet I devoured it incredibly quickly. While it’s not perfect by any means, I cannot help but love it. I cannot wait to see where Maas takes this story and the characters next.