Title: A Court of Silver Flames | Author: Sarah J. Maas | Genre: Fantasy
“The road isn’t easy. It is long, and hard, and often traveled utterly blind. But you keep going.” He nodded to the mountains, the lake. “Because you know the destination will be worthwhile.”– Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Silver Flames
* Spoiler Alert * I don’t get into any specifics about the plot or characters. Still, I will be mentioning certain aspects of the book that you wouldn’t know about by simply reading the blurb. If you haven’t already read the ACOTAR series, first, read them now; you won’t regret it and, second, I don’t suggest reading this review. So, if you don’t want any spoilers at all, turn back now!
I almost feel unworthy of reviewing any book from the beloved ACOTAR series. Especially this jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching, and just overall brilliant book. Not to mention, I’m sure everyone has read at least a million of these reviews by now, but that’s okay; everyone has a unique take, so here is mine.
I usually wait until the end to give my star rating, but I will say, right off the bat, that this book got five massive and brilliant stars from me. I adore this book. Like anything else in this world, it has its faults, but this book has quickly risen to the top to stand alongside A Court of Mist and Fury as one of my favorites.
Honestly, I did not have high hopes for this book. I enjoyed the three books and novella that came before this one. But I wasn’t looking forward to hearing a story all about miserable and foul Nesta Archeron.
I know I’m not alone in saying that I hated Nesta when I started this book. And for a good reason, she was nasty, unpleasant, and took no responsibility for her actions (or inactions). I wanted to throw this book into a snowbank for the first few chapters. I couldn’t stand Nesta’s lousy attitude and felt incredibly defensive when she continued to blame Feyre and the entire Inner Circle for her problems. But, as expected – or at least as desired – Nesta’s character began to change and develop.
| Character Development |
Nesta’s growth and character development were portrayed in the most realistic lens I’ve seen in a book like this one. Not only that, but the mental health representation is some of the best I’ve ever seen, period. Nesta’s journey to find herself again, or possibly for the first time, was a bumpy ride. Her healing was not linear – as I find, it is often portrayed to be in books. Typically, when you are healing, you don’t just steadily improve until you are “fixed.” Rather, you improve and then regress and then learn from that and continue to move forward, slowly but surely. And that’s precisely what Nesta’s healing journey looked like. She would have epiphanies and then turn around and act out just as she would have a few chapters earlier. This story explored how unhealthy coping mechanisms and self-sabotage can become someone’s only defense when they are suffering. It teaches us that we need to stop judging people so harshly by our first impressions of them – that they are likely going through something we will never know about. It was a slow-going process for Nesta, but it often is for most people dealing with mental health challenges, and I just loved that realistic portrayal.
As I witnessed Nesta’s story and learned more about why she acts the way she does, my opinion towards her softened. I even realized that, maybe, I disliked Nesta so much because I saw a lot of myself in her. I’ve been researching and practicing a lot of shadow work as of late. Now, this is a book review, so I won’t get into what shadow work is. Still, I bring this up because I realized that Nesta is almost a perfect representation of my shadow self (i.e., the part of ourselves we try to repress because they make us feel sad or wounded). Believe it or not, this smutty fantasy novel opened my eyes to a whole side of myself that I need to confront. Because of that, this book impacted me in ways others have not.
One of my favorite aspects of the book is the theme of strong female characters overcoming grief and trauma. The way this topic was handled was so beautiful, and I thought it was poignant to see how different forms of trauma impacted these characters and how they responded very differently to their trauma from one another. I relished Nesta’s relationships with Gwyn and Emery. The close female friendships I have in my life mean so much to me, and I think it’s important to show women supporting other women like that. Thinking about the sisterhood and empowerment in this book will never fail to inspire me. Not to mention how badass they all were, working to become strong and powerful. Thanks to this book, I’ve worked out more and harder in the past few weeks than I have all of quarantine. If only I had a personal Illyrian warrior to train me… we can’t all be that lucky *sigh*.
| Plot |
This book is so incredibly different from all of the others in the ACOTAR series. Sarah J Maas very clearly listened to what her fans like and incorporated all of it into this book. Part of me wonders if this was a tool used to subconsciously force us to accept Nesta or just because Maas wanted to give her fans more of what they want. Probably both, and either way, I’m here for it. Nesta and her friends bonding over smutty books is BookTok personified, so we related to her on that front and had to accept her as one of our own.
On top of that, Sarah J. Maas cranked the spice level WAY up, included some more Azriel content than what was in previous books, and also finally admitted that Elain has the personality of a brick wall. All of these are topics I’ve seen all over social media before this book was released, so I have to give props to Maas for catering to her audience.
| Romance/Relationship Progression |
Okay, so now on to what we care about: the romance. I wouldn’t call the relationship between Nesta and Cassian all that romantic, but it sure was passionate. I mean, HOLY SMOKES, this book was spicy! A definite five on the spice scale, all without being too much. Sarah J. Mass went for it with this one, and I can never thank her enough for doing so. In terms of smuttiness, this book is so drastically different from the others in the series that I almost felt like I was reading some fantastic fanfiction. Funnily enough, I saw an Instagram live where Sarah J. Maas said she started writing this book as a kind of fanfiction about her characters, and that explains a lot.
A huge theme in this book is female empowerment, and it is shown in so many ways, including showing Nesta embrace her sexuality and sensuality with absolutely no shame whatsoever. Yes, she used sex as a distraction from her pain, and that is obviously not good. Still, I think regardless of her intention behind having sex, she owns her sexuality. It’s crucial to portray women enjoying (safe) sex and showing that there is nothing to be ashamed of because, unfortunately, our society still hasn’t adopted that notion quite yet.
I’m never one to complain about a bunch of smut in a book. I loved it, I loved it, I loved it, and I wish all of the books in the series had that much in them! But… I did feel that all the spice took away from the emotional connection between Nesta and Cassian. I thought that it could have used more romance and tenderness. Before anyone comes at me, yes, I know there are so many moments where Cassian was there for Nesta and helped her come to terms with things, but that felt more like it was moving Nesta’s healing forward rather than their relationship. Regardless, I love them together. They are yet another power couple that I would bow down to.
In case I didn’t say it enough, I LOVED this book. It kept me engaged on every single one of those 768 pages. I genuinely feel like I could have read 800 more pages and still would have been enthralled. I feel as if I’ll never tire of this world and these characters, and I just want to learn everything about them. I have my fingers crossed the next book is about Azriel and that it comes out quickly! A Court of Silver Flames was steamy, action-packed, suspenseful, heartbreaking, and empowering, and I really don’t know what else one could be looking for in a book.
Make sure to check out my A Court of Silver Flames– inspired Spotify playlist. I’m especially proud of this one!