Allow me to preface this very informal, unsolicited review by saying I’ve been a massive Sarah J. Maas fan for the past few years. Anyone who’s spoken to me about her books would know that I usually take things to an embarrassing, fangirl level.
As soon as A Court Of Wings And Ruin was announced, I hit the pre-order button, no hesitation. In the month leading up to this book, I could hardly concentrate on reading anything else. I just wanted it to arrive, and I watched enviously as I saw book bloggers receive their ARCs…
Anyway, my copy finally arrived and I dived right in. Usually I finish her books in a matter of days. This wasn’t the case for ACOWAR.
To be honest, I’m still trying to process how I feel about this book, but if I had to sum it up, I’d have to say I was disappointed.
As I said, I’ve been a huge fan of Maas for a while now. That’s not to say that I haven’t recognised flaws in her work, but generally, I’ve loved the overall product. I didn’t love A Court of Wings and Ruin in the same way.
I found my concentration straying. I wasn’t eager to get back to it as I had been with so many of SJM’s other books.
Now, I’m not a believer in reviews that overly focus on the negative (and yes, that may be out of some fear of my own as an author), but after all the hype and all the build up, I feel as though I’ve been left wondering – why didn’t editors say anything? Am I the only fan (and yes, I’m still a fan) who feels this way? So I wanted to position this ‘review’ as more of a discussion…
1. The pacing
What I’d loved so much about the previous two books in the series was how fast-paced they were… This in comparison, seemed slow. Frankly, the pacing felt all off to me. The first third of the book, in which Feyre is in a potentially hostile, dangerous situation, lacked tension, lacked drive.
This is an instance where I felt an editor should have stepped in and highlighted some of these issues. I felt the same way about Empire of Storms in the Throne of Glass series.
In ACOWAR, I found myself struggling over repetitive passages, and unnecessarily long descriptions.
2. The Tension
This was my main frustration. In ACOTAR the tension that drove the book was Feyre’s relationship with Tamlin and in ACOMAF, it was her relationship with Rhys. But in ACOWAR, because Feyre was already with Rhys, and she was High Lady of the Night Court, the tension just wasn’t there. At all.
It was frustrating that romance was the only factor driving the tension in this book, and that because the heroine and hero were already together… It flatlined.
Surely the tension wasn’t all in the romance? Apparently it was. I felt like there was so much potential between the different courts and their politics, with Feyre being behind enemy lines, with Nesta and Elaine now being Fae… Don’t get me wrong, there were moments I loved, but just not enough of them.
3. The Pairings
It gets a little tiresome when all the characters in a book seem to get matched up with their one true love so conveniently.
As in Empire of Storms, all the main cast in ACOWAR seem to get paired off in an insta-love fashion.
The only exception is Mor. And her characterisation is problematic in other ways…
As far as I’m concerned, SJM is a plot master. She weaves things into the first book in a series, that four or five books later, leave you gobsmacked.
I would expect the same thing of her characterisation of Mor… In ACOWAR Mor reveals that she has a preference for women. This is supposed to be a big, life-changing moment, and instead, it feels tacked on, an after thought. So much more could have been done with this, and again, it just falls flat.
Was it just me, or did all the characters start to sound the same after a while? They all had the same sense of humour, they all were sarcastic, and at some point or another they were all nudging each other in the ribs or sticking their tongues.
In fact, I think the best character development was with… Tamlin. Yep. I went there. And I’m not a Tamlin fan, I promise you.
I’m 100% Rhys all the way.
But at least in ACOWAR, Tamlin had a rich, complicated personality – he was nasty, vindictive and a lot of other things I probably shouldn’t put into writing on this blog. However, he had redeeming qualities too – he wasn’t just black and white, he went into the far more interesting grey area, and had a developing character arc. And that’s more than I can say for the other characters.
I suppose the true test of this book is whether or not I’d read it again. I’ve read all of SJM’s other books at least three times each, and although I still enjoyed ACOWAR to a certain extent, I don’t think I’ll be reading it again.
I liked that it had a happy, hopeful ending, and it was nice to be back with the Night Court gang for a while. However, it’s left me feeling a little flat. It wasn’t the rip-roaring adventure I expected.
I’m also wary of there being more books “in this world” scheduled… Who knows where it’ll all end up.
A Court of Wings and Ruin is available on Amazon now.