"Not even a devil can save you from yourself."
What if the familiar young peasant boy (think Kvothe, Fitz, insert-male-fantasy-lead-here), destined to become a hero and bring vengeance down on those responsible for the deaths of everyone he’s ever known and loved, the one of humble beginnings and wild potential, dies without any fanfare, and with only an old woman to bear witness? What if she isn’t just any old woman?
Turns out she’s Cold Zosia, the Stricken Queen, who 30 years prior bound six devils and tore up the empire with her Five Villains, took the throne herself and then supposedly died a deserved death in a coup. Except she didn’t, and the murder of her adopted village seems like the long-awaited comeuppance for dirty deeds and good intentions gone sour. So what now does she have to lose? Maybe the hero should’ve been the young boy that her devil dog drags up the mountain on the cusp of death, young and full of potential, but only Zosia remains when the smoke clears, and she realizes she’s going to have to do what she does best --- raze it all to the ground.
"'Mercy. Now there's a devil I won't have any truck with, not from here until my dying day,' she said."
I loved so much about this book. I loved Zosia and her devil, Choplicker, I loved the Villains (especially Maroto and Hoartrap) and the world Marshall built. I loved its handling of race and sexuality and age, and I loved its creeptastic little-v villains and scary major religion. I cannot WAIT for the second installment. In the meantime, I recommend this to anyone and everyone, there’s something here for all.
I'd love you to share your thoughts on the book or my review below. I'm also dying for book recs that feature old(er) women saving the world (or destroying it?) and generally doing important or interesting things, so rec away!
I think this might be one of the most important books I've ever read. Forget that "genre fiction" disclaimer, this is the real deal. I don't even know what to say. Anything I do say may be too telling.
Okay, I'll say this: this is a story we are, on some level, all familiar with. We know the history of the world. It's written by the winners, and what have the winners, the venerated winners, always done? They've dominated and pillaged in the name of civilizing, saying as they outlaw the customs and dress and language of the Celts, the Aborigines, the Native Americans, insert-a-colonized-people here, that they bring roads, medicine, law, God, correct and decent behavior, and so-on. They've changed the names of mountains, cities, continents. They've played at eugenics, taken children away from parents to be "educated" out of their own customs, culture, their own minds. They've made internment camps, death camps. They've sterilized, enslaved. I could go on.
"And her mother's answering disdain: Go, then. Learn all their secrets. Cover yourself in them. You will return with a steel mask instead of a face."
Baru is someone who grows up in a place where these things are happening, and her story is full of intrigue, rebellion, hope, devastation, love, betrayal, victory and defeat and something in between. She is a glimpse into the divided loyalties and motivations of a person forced to join 'em in order to beat 'em. Maybe. Maybe that's part of what she is, I'm not entirely sure I know. Baru makes my heart and my brain hurt if I think about her too long.
This book is about all that, but it's about so much more. I won't lie, this will knock the wind right out of you. But you won't regret it. It might change something inside of you though, the best books always do. So be prepared for that.
"I will write your name in the ruin of them. I will paint you across history in the color of their blood."
What are your thoughts? Am I over-extolling the virtues here? I'd love to know if any of you had the same gut-punch feeling at the end.
Sarah J. Maas tricked me. She set up those familiar tropes in A Court of Thorns and Roses and then she hurtled A Court of Mist and Fury at them and knocked them ALL down. She did just enough with Feyre in ACOTAR that I thought, sure this is a kind of typical fantasy love story, with a typical alpha male who means well and who shows a typical lonely, broken girl peace and happiness while they save the world, but Feyre is so fleshed out! She’s got such a complete personality. She’s not just an “insert yourself here” kind of fantasy heroine. It’ll do. BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT.
BUT! Then she gives us A Court of Mist and Fury, and she shows us that this TYPICAL (I resist humming “Same Old Love”) depiction of romance is not necessarily desirable. It doesn't fit. It’s not good to find your strength in someone else, it’s not good to be cloistered and protected from not only harm, but living, experience, and finding someone who is your EQUAL, not your keeper/husband/protector/mansplainer.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is the book I read and loved when I was young and inexperienced and very much like Feyre when she first comes to the Spring Court. A Court of Mist and Fury is the book for me now, now that I’ve lived and loved and done things, now that I am more myself and more completely at home with myself. I know what I can do, and I don't let anyone keep me from doing it. The kind of love I want (and have, thankfully) is the love of an equal partner, someone who isn't shielding me from things but encourages me to go with, or figure out on my own, or share when I'm ready. Maas presents ACOTAR to us as if to say, “See? It’s familiar, you’ve felt this, we’ve all felt this,” and then follows it with ACOMAF and asks, “But isn’t this better?”
Let me know what you thought about ACoMaF, if you disagree about ACoTaR, or if you just want to Rhysand fangirl with me.