After the defeat of King Hybern, we are back in Velaris, this time with a story centering on Nesta Archeron. After being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae, Nesta must face her haunted, traumatic past in order to move forward and begin living again. As she trains with Cassian and seeks out magical artifacts that could turn the tide in a battle with the human queens, Nesta and Cassian find comfort and strength in each other.
This book, of course, is blowing up on Bookstagram and Goodreads. Sarah J. Maas is a beloved writer with an excellent talent for creating authentic, lovable characters. ACOSF has everything I would expect form her: gripping action, drama, snarky wit, and SUPER steamy romance. I think this is the sexiest book in the series; Nesta and Cassian have a fiery chemistry. That said, though I loved much about the book, there were a few things I found disappointing.
First, what I loved. I was surprised to find that I really did enjoy Nesta’s perspective. I didn’t care for her character previously, but being in her head and hearing more of her past allowed me to feel much more interest and compassion for her. I loved the way that she built friendships, first with the House of Wind, and then with a group of women she inspired to start training. She built a strong relationship with Emerie, an Illyrian female, and Gwyn, a priestess in the library that was so fun to watch grow. It is always exciting to me to see strong female friendships at the heart of a story, and it made me happy to see Nesta striking out on her own and finding her people. Additionally, each of these women had survived profound trauma, and it was heart wrenching to watch them find the strength together to share their stories.
I loved the alternating perspectives between Nesta and Cassian, which allowed us to see new characters and revisit characters from previous books. The action of the story revolves around the human queens, Briallyn specifically, and that action took us all over the faerie realm. I found Nesta and Cassian’s search for the Made artifacts exciting and thought it helped to advance the plot when it started to lag.
Now, to what I did not love. I have very strong feelings about the way mental health is portrayed in books, particularly in books with young adult appeal. I think this book covered the pain and lasting effects of trauma compassionately, but I was disappointed in the way Nesta was treated by Feyre and the Night Court. More than once characters say “they’ve tried to be understanding/give Nesta time,” when what they really mean is, they’ve stood by while Nesta drank, gambled, and slept herself into oblivion. As Feyre experienced trauma herself, I would have expected a better, more supportive response from her. There does not seem to be any sort of mental health care in this world, so the solution is to force Nesta from her own home, her only place of comfort, and into training at the House of Wind. They even go so far as to have the apartment building she lived in condemned because it was “embarrassing.” I found this to be really degrading and insensitive. As someone with severe depression, I would honestly not survive if my family ever treated me in this way.
Likewise, though I love Cassian, I also found myself disappointed in their romance. They suffered so much from a lack of communication. At first, Cassian tries to speak to Nesta, but she shuts him down so he slowly stops trying. He does everything on her terms and they both suffer for it. I think this is meant to be seen as Cassian being supportive and taking things slowly for her, but I would’ve preferred to see him constantly communicating. If you’re going to love someone with mental illness, communication and support is crucial, even when (and especially when) it feels like that person is deliberating pulling away.
So, I ended up having mixed feelings on this one. I imagine it must have been incredibly cathartic for Maas to write, and the strong female bonds were really powerful. I just wish that compassion and emotion could’ve translated into the other characters as well. Still, this book made me love Nesta and I was rooting for her the whole way through. I love Maas’ writing and still look forward to reading future installments of the series.
I feel like I am in a very small minority with my opinions on A Court of Silver Flames. Have you read it? What did you think? Tell me in the comments!