Trappings of the Night Court || A Court of Mist and Fury Review

Initial Thoughts: 

I hereby apologize to all you Rhysand believers. I love him now. I didn’t think I ever would even if he IS sex on a stick…but I love him now. So terribly deeply. And I love Feyre’s entire growth as a character. And I absolutely loved the progression of the story and the character arcs.

And Velaris, the City of Starlight? Um, CAN I GO TO THERE?!

Yeah. You win, Maas. You win.


A COURT OF MIST AND FURY

Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsbury, May 2016
NA fantasy, romance
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world torn apart.

In Which Mari Eats Her Hat

I will start this review by saying that initially, I had had no plans to continue this series in the nearby future. It’s not that I’m highly against Sarah J. Maas–I loved Throne of Glass and will likely love Crown of Midnight as well–but from the last time my friend Meg and I discussed A Court of Thrones and Roses as part of our podcast, we were both pretty “meh” about it.

  • I found Feyre to be silly.
  • I didn’t particularly like Rhysand (because he was most definitely a prick).
  • The worldbuilding and plot took a secondary role to the romance.
  • I thought the romance was a wee bit awkward (as were the sex scenes).
  • Aside from the pretty riveting last 100 or so pages at the end, the only character I simply adored was Nesta and her sass.

But after some soul-searching (or, you know, the fact that I have to read this book for the Fableulous Retellings Podcast) and sighing of reluctance, I finally started to read it. After the first sex scene appeared 21 pages in, I didn’t have much hope that the book would pick up. (My friend said it did, and it was her assurance that spurred me on!)

Two days and 600 pages later, I started eating my hat. Because everything I’d objected to in ACOTAR got utterly fixed in ACOMAF and holy hell, when things got fixed, they got SO GOOD SO FAST, and I absolutely adored this book.

Feyre isn’t silly at all anymore. Feyre went a long way as far as her character development went. At the beginning of ACOMAF, she is a broken woman, traumatized by what she had to go through with Aramantha and the goings-on of Under the Mountain. It was a grueling experience in ACOTAR, and it shows by how different Feyre is at the beginning of this second book.

I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal.

I was a survivor, and I was strong.

I would not be weak, or helpless again. I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.

And yet she riled up and became a powerhouse. Yes, she still has nightmares, and yes, it’s still going to take some time for her to heal from her traumas, but at the end of the day, she knows who she is and what she wants. And if she wants to be a High Lady to the Lord of Night, and if she wants to spend her days in the City of Starlight, who am I to begrudge her that dream of the future?

Rhysand is my sex on a stick TDH and I love him to pieces. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. How does that even happen.

The only evidence I had at all that Rhys remained on the premises were the blank copies of the alphabet, along with several sentences I was to write every day, swapping out words, each one more obnoxious than the last:

Rhysand is the most handsome High Lord.

Rhysand is the most delightful High Lord.

Rhysand is the most cunning High Lord.

Oh, right. It’s because Rhysand is a beautiful, sassy, tortured High Lord, and he is a fucking romantic. Like, who knew from his prickish ways from ACOTAR, right? But turns out he isn’t the villain he set out to be, and just like Feyre, he made a great deal of traumatic sacrifices Under the Mountain. One of the biggest things I loved about him was his loyalty to his people, to Velaris, and–of course–to Feyre.

“Delicious,” he purred.

My brows now knotted. I read the next two words, then whipped my face toward him. “You look absolutely delicious today, Feyre?! That’s what you wrote?”

He also taught Feyre how to read and use her powers. COME ON HOW IS THAT NOT SEXY?!

It also helps that he’s a beautiful man…and I was totally tempted to put a more risque picture here…but I’ll settle for him fully clothed. *snickers*

Seriously, though, I loved him to pieces. And after that heartfelt confession in Chapter 54, I can see I had it all wrong. And I’m glad I read ACOMAF to set that straight.

The Night Court, holy hell, can I go to there AND the Summer Court, too?! We get a look at the rest of Prythian–and Hybern–in this book. I’ve actually liked the descriptions of the Spring Court, but Maas totally dialed up the beauty and vivid aspect of the Night Court, particularly Velaris. This city of Starlight is legit, and if I could live anywhere in Prythian, it’d definitely be in a place where the nights are the most beautiful. The glimpse we had of the Summer Court wasn’t bad, either, but nothing seems to compare to the glamour of a hidden, 5000-year-old city.

(But of course as far as plots go, you totally know what’s going to happen when a war is coming in, and there’s a hidden city in the agenda to crush…)

The romance was absolutely everything. You know what, after the first sex scenes, it literally took a good 500-something pages to finally get the full-on Rhysand-Feyre action that I’m sure everyone was waiting for in this book. The fact that it was such a slow-burn was the best thing ever. Yes, there were flirtations, yes, there was some tension, and of course the whole mate bond thing seems to remind me of the mate bonds I’ve read in urban fantasy (which, to be honest, is either something you like or hate). But honestly, I adored the whole journey that finally brought the Feysand ship together.

His words were a lethal caress as he said, “Did you enjoy the sight of me kneeling before you?”

… “Isn’t that what all you males are good for, anyway?” But the words were tight, near-breathless.

His answering smile evoked silken sheets and jasmine-scented breezes at midnight.

I mean, if I wasn’t already fanning myself with all the sexting and flirting going on, then those steamy new-adult scenes definitely made me squee-swoon (Squoon?)

“He thinks he’ll be remembered as the villain in the story.”

She snorted.

“But I forgot to tell him,” I said quietly, opening the door, “that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key.”

“Oh?”

I shrugged. “He was the one who let me out.”

Ughhh. They’re way too cute for words. And the fanart for this fandom is AMAZING.

There’s also the fact that, mate-bond or no mate-bond, it’s clear Rhysand puts Feyre’s happiness above his own. He doesn’t force her to do anything, and always pushes and challenges her to surpass expectations. If you compare that to the possessiveness that Tamlin displayed in ACOTAR and the growing obsession of keeping Feyre safe from his enemies in ACOMAF, Rhysand is pretty much doing everything right to get the girl, including letting her decide whether to put herself in danger for his beloved City of Starlight.

He wiped away the tears on one cheek, then another. “You can either let it wreck you, let it get you killed like it nearly did with the Weaver, or you can learn to live with it.”

Sigh. Definitely shipping these two to kingdom come.

Rhysand’s Inner Circle is a barrelful of awesome. Seriously, Rhys pretty much is a misfit magnet, and that’s mostly because he’s a dreamer as well as the most powerful High Lord in all of Prythian. When I finally met Morrigan and Amren and Cassian and Azriel, I was already smitten with Rhys, and then I started being seduced into the Inner Circle madness. Cassian and Azriel are definitely fantastic Illyrians (they kind of remind me of Liraz and Hazael from Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series), and Mor and Amren steal the show half the time. Hell, there were many more characters that I liked in this book, including Tarquin and Elain, and of course the fabulously fierce Nesta.

And the plot thickens. But I won’t get into what happens, only that things definitely heat up–and not in a sexy way–by the end. And yes, so it might take me a while to read the next book in the series, but I’m definitely not going to dismiss it outright like I’d done after ACOTAR.

5 out of 5 cookies! Sigh. SUCH a good book.


Did you read this book? What did you think?

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Pirates, Mermaids, Monsters, Oh My! || Monstress, Vol. 2 Review

Initial Thoughts: 

Can this get any more EPIC? The answer is YES. There are pirates and animalistic Arcanics (THERE’S A SHARK GIRL WHAT) and old gods that eerily remind me of Alucard’s crazy demon form in Hellsing. And lawd, when’s the next set coming out because MORE PLS.


MONSTRESS, VOL. 2: THE BLOOD

by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda (illustrator)
Image Comics, July 2017
Graphic novel, science fiction, fantasy, steampunk
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

The Eisner-nominated MONSTRESS is back! Maika, Kippa, and Ren journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past… and discover a new, terrible, threat. Collects MONSTRESS #7-12.

I don’t think I’ve fallen so hard and so fast over a comics series than I had with Monstress, and honestly, it’s largely to do with the two amazing women who’ve brought this story to life on the illustrated medium. Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda are mistresses of their craft, and together they managed to convey a wonderful story of a powerful girl in a world still reeling from the previous war and yet gearing for a new one.

The story follows after Volume 1 (Issues 1-6) and picks up the pace, sending Maika, Kippa, and Ren south to Thyria, Maika’s hometown. There, Maika regroups and enlists the help of pirates to ferry her further south, to the Cape of Bones, a place where Moriko Halfwolf had once traveled. To gain more information of the monster inside her, Maika follows her mother’s footsteps–and obsession with the legendary Shaman Princess–south, encountering dangers along the way, as well as a deeper understanding of how to control the Monstrum within.

As can normally be found in most first volumes, the first six issues of Monstress dealt with throwing as much information our way as possible. While Liu and Takeda managed to convey the information in creative ways (including a little professor-student talking panel every issue for the heavier worldbuilding aspects), most of the first volume was truly introductory. Yes, the second volume also deals with the addition of new characters, but by this point, we are familiar with a bit of the world and there’s less explaining to do. So for the most part, we can sit back and enjoy the story.

Well, sort of.

Then Liu comes around and throws us for a loop and we start to devour the next bits of fantastical element thrown our way. In this case, the sea Arcanics.

Yes, we saw the awesomeness of the Fox Queen and the Monkey King and by that point we are unsurprised by the group of “nekomancers” littering the pages (I mean, Ren is one of them…). But a motherfrelling Arcanic shark? Mermaids and sirens and bone-chilling sea creatures of doom? Hell yes!

Not to mention dapper ex-pirate lions and tigers, who, by the way, are friggin’ AWESOME.

I don’t know how they’re not super-hot in those outfits, I would be if I was sporting that much fur in my body. That said, CAN I GET THEIR CLOTHES? I’d so wear the shmat out of them.

And, because we needed more badass females, throw in a female captain in the mix.

Of course, the issues don’t just deal with Maika’s story, though hers takes center stage for the most part. Characters introduced in the previous issues–such as the Cumaea and the Dawn and Dusk Courts–recur in the next several issues, and while Maika’s journey is largely one of self-discovery, we have several other characters mobilized to find her. Chief among them is the Sword of the East, who is revealed to be Maika’s sole living relative, an aunt who had been unaware of her presence. The Cumaea is still after Maika’s Monstrum, while others seek to destroy her.

It’s no wonder Maika broods all the time. Shes’ got a shitton of people coming after her, and to add cherry to her fantastic life, the ravenous monster inside her is getting stronger and stronger, almost to the brink of being out of control.

And yet, she still has that sass that made me love her in the beginning issues.

The second volume is chock-full of action, and more of the story is revealed to the reader, including a back story of the old gods that used to live in the known world. If you thought the first volume was epic, the second one blows it out of the water. Hem hem.

And honestly, those issue cover illustrations.

I cannot gush enough about this volume of Monstress. I highly recommend it, for story, for female badassery, for a world that’s a mix of everything I love about fantasy/scifi worldbuilding. Now I feel like the Monstrum, because this series is making me insatiable. I want more please!

5 out of 5 cookies!

This counts as #11 of the Graphic Novels/Manga Reading Challenge and #4 of the Steampunk Reading Challenge.


Have you read this series? What did you think?

Steampunk Madness and Matriarchs || Monstress, Vol. 1 Review

monstress-review

Initial Thoughts: 

A speculative Asia during the 1900s with a largely matriarchal society on BOTH sides of a brutal human-beast war? New. Favorite. Series. EVER.

MONSTRESS, VOL. 1

by Marjorie M. Liu (author), Sana Takeda (illustrator)
Image Comics, July 2016
Graphic novel, science fiction, fantasy
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies
e-ARC provided by NetGalley

monstressSet in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both.

Image Comics Strikes Again

This time in an Asian steampunk world. And it looks effing fabulous. When I got an email about this series being opened up on NetGalley, I knew I had to read it. It’s been on my TBR since I was alerted to it by The Book Smugglers, and I do not regret it one bit.

First of all, Takeda’s artwork is gorgeous. It’s half manga, half Westernized comics, a perfect combination of both, and so detailed I almost wanted to screenshot every darn page. There were several times where a page was just filled with wordless panels, and my gosh, the illustrated depiction of what’s happening on that page…it certainly brings proof to the old “a picture is worth a thousand words” adage.

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The main character is a feisty, stubborn, kick-ass one-armed Asian woman. She’s survived a violent war. She’s survived a traumatic enslavement experience. She’s survived the loss of a limb and the aftermath of conflict between two powerful factions. She’s seen shit. And she’s angry. On top of that, she wants to know what’s happening–and what’s happened–to her. And she’ll break down doors if she has to. I love her to bits.

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She also has a lovely way with words, that Maiko.

The matriarchal powers that be. The series is rife with fem-power on both sides. In fact, some of the highest positions are held by women. One of the first immortal ancients we see is a Wolf Queen. The first half-breed is a powerful woman, someone who apparently shook the world. The Cumaea is an order of witch-nuns who’ve taken the highest form of power in the human government. Heck, Lady Sophia is displayed quite remarkably as a woman who buys Arcanic slaves. She’s in charge, she’s despicable, and she gives zero fucks because she has shit to do and Arcanics to experiment on. Not to mention the fact that there’s a little romance (LGBT from what I saw!) but so far it hasn’t overwhelmed the narrative. It’s female empowerment to the max.

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There’s no better way to walk into a slave auction than in style. I’ll give it to Lady Sophia, she knows how to make an entrance.

It’s an adventure story drenched with the problems of race, war, and disability (both physical and emotional). It’s dark and merciless and it definitely makes no apology in showing the cruelties of the post-war world. Takeda’s depiction of Liu’s people makes for a great collaboration, and there’s really not much I can say against the series at the moment. I loved the entire volume.

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Also, Mister Ren. That two-tailed cat is the bees’ knees.

5 out of 5 cookies! Now, I’m not sure where the rest of this series is going just yet, but my gosh, I want the next issues already. Like, now.


monstress-all