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.