Book Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas ★★★

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“I have to create, or it was all for nothing. I have to create, or I will crumple up with despair and never leave my bed. I have to create because I have no other way of voicing this.”

The Inner Circle is back, guys! Any book by Sarah J Maas is pretty much an instant buy for me and this one was no exception. I was eagerly anticipating reading this novella and I was not disappointed. Overall, the book, while not the best of the series, did what it was intended to do, and bridged the gap between the original Court series and the new spinoff trilogy that is in the works. I enjoyed it!

Spoilers below!

As with any new Maas book, there has already been a whirlwind of conversation surrounding the release of A Court of Frost and Starlight. Much of what I have seen is positive, but of course there are those people that seem to read her books only to trash them on the internet later 🙄. That being said, I am going to focus on my opinion and offer a brief explanation of what I loved about it and a few things I did not like about it. All in all, I thought this was a great addition to the series and accomplished exactly what it set out to do. This has always been marketed as a novella, not a full length novel, so I was not shocked or upset at the roughly 250 page story we got. And, I was not expecting this book to be brimming with plot and extensive action scenes….It’s a novella. It was clearly stated that this was a short piece to tie up the original trilogy and introduce the following spinoff. Why would she go into the specific scenes and plot points that she has planned for the next series in the brief novella?? That makes no sense. Take it for what it is people! I thought it was a great transitional story and effectively brought Feyre and Rhys’ arcs to a close (not completely, but it smoothly indicated that the narrative is moving beyond them), while introducing the new stories/POVs we know Maas has planned.

After reading it, we all know that the next series is going to focus on Nessian (yay!), but what are your thoughts on the others? I am thinking there is going to be a Mor-centric series about her travels around the world (and hopefully finding a nice lady love, too). It also set up a very obvious Lucien, Vassa, and Jurian story. The Band of Exiles would make a great subject I think! I also get the feeling that she set Tamlin up for a new series/path, which I am pretty indifferent to at the moment. We will see. I will read it regardless, but he just does not interest me all that much. What do you guys think about the following spinoffs?

Now, here is a little insight into my feelings while reading A Court of Frost and Starlight:

Pros:

  •  Nessian!! Ya’ll know my love for Nessian knows no bounds, and after reading this book, I am even more amped for their interactions. I am so happy the next series is about them! The interactions between Nesta and Cassian were heartbreaking here, but completely believable and real. I respect Maas for writing complex, sometimes brutal characters and relationships that are not always perfect or fluffy. I love that she goes there. It makes me appreciate them even more and I could probably talk about them forever. Love!
  • Nesta in general. Ok, so Nesta has been at the heart of the controversy surrounding this book so far, and the Inner Circle’s interactions with her. Let me just say, Maas created these characters. She alone knows everything that has ever happened to them, what will happen to them, and exactly how they operate. How in the hell could she write her own characters as OOC then??? Just because they are not behaving like some rose-tinted fanfiction version of what you wanted, does not mean they are out of character. Referring of course to Nesta’s depression and how she is coping with it. Her isolation, desire to be accepted, anger, pain, drinking and sleeping around are actually very plausible for her character and how she is reacting to her own trauma. And, the Inner Circle’s attempts to help her are also very realistic. I could go on and on, and give specific reasons about each character’s treatment of her, but it should be very clear. They have tried to help her in the way they think is best. Nesta is fiercely pushing them away. They do not know what to do to help her. Rhys is not being a horrible person; he is just sick of Nesta treating everyone (Feyre) like shit. He is allowed to feel that way. Nesta needs help and is not accepting it, so more drastic measures must be taken. Very plausible, if you ask me.
    • I actually really like the arc that Maas has created for Nesta and I am very excited to see it play out in the next series (Nesta in the Illyrian mountains with Cassian?? I am already dying!!). I am a fan of grey characters, characters that are not all good and nice. Let Nesta be brutal. Let her rip and shred her way through the world if that is what she needs right now. I am here for her anger and I will be here for her healing, as well. It will be an amazing, emotional journey that will be way more interesting than if she was just okay and instantly fell into Cassian’s arms.
    • Despite the way Nesta has been acting and her actions, there was absolutely NO slut-shaming in this book. None whatsoever.
  •  The multiple points of view. Like I mentioned, I was pleased with the way the new points of view set up the upcoming stories and gave us insight into Cassian’s, Nesta’s, and Mor’s thoughts.
  • The humor. I have always enjoyed Maas’ situational humor and it was evident again here with things like Feyre and Cassian getting drunk to decorate and Azriel cleaning up their mess (and then getting caught chugging the wine bottle), with Amren struggling with basic human needs in her new mortal form, the sauna scene (LOL), Rhys flirting, the dinner scene, the snowball fight, “angry snowball.” I love how she balances out her serious content with some lighthearted scenes of the family.
  • The healing. This book is set not far from the end of ACOWAR, so it would not make sense at all if the Inner Circle and the city of Velaris were just magically all better and healed from the events of the war. It was nice to see the healing process acknowledged and to also witness some of the casualties/sacrifices that the people of Velaris and the Illyrians made.
  • The Illyrian uprising. I have always admired Maas’ political and strategical way of writing, too. She does not gloss over these things and brings them to light in her stories in a logical way. Her book are not just superficial fluff. This novella set up a thread of political unrest that will be further explored in the next series.
  • Feyre and Rhys being domestic. I know some people were bored with their relationship this time, because it seemed like more of the same, but I enjoyed seeing one of my favorite literary couples simply being a solid, happy, badass power couple. I was not turned off by how sexual they both were because, hello, they are spending so much time apart and are clearly missing each other/still affected by the traumas of the war. It’s natural, peeps. At least when you have a healthy relationship like theirs. Rhys was so supportive of Feyre’s art and her taking on her role of High Lady. And as for the baby thing, I did not think it was weird for them after what they went through. Obviously, Feyre will be affected by the events of the war and almost losing her mate. If she wants to change her mind about waiting to have kids, then good for her. It’s not like she is sacrificing her life to have children for Rhys. Sure she’s young, but come on, she’s also immortal! It’s not a huge deal.
    • On another note, I liked seeing the two of them get called out for some of their more assholeish behavior. Not that I do not adore these two, but they are not perfect (thankfully!) and it was good to see Lucien, Tamlin, and each other make them check their attitudes. They can both be selfish, dramatic, and petty at times.
  • The friendships. I just like seeing the different relationships and especially the friendships between the characters like Mor/Cassian, Feyre/Cassian, Nesta/Amren, Cassian/Azriel/Rhys, Elain/Nuala/Cerridwen.
  • The backstories. Getting more information on the character’s background histories is always something I look forward to! Here we got tidbits on Cassian, Azriel, and Rhys’ mothers, Amren’s transformation, and more on Mor’s life before she was part of the IC. Very interesting.
  • The weaver’s story. It was heartbreaking, powerful, and very important. It connected Feyre to her people and also inspired her to create again.
    • This also lead to her using art as a way to help her people who might need an outlet after the war, which was such a beautiful and fitting idea.
  •  New characters. Emerie and Ressina were awesome! I imagine we will see more of them.
  • Elain/Azriel. It is no secret that I have always liked the idea of Elain/Azriel over Elain/Lucien and their interactions here were so sweet! It is not yet clear whether there are romantic feelings between them or simply a bond of friendship, but I think they both need to grow/heal more before getting into anything anyway. Elain’s treatment of the mate bond is interesting and I loved her gift to Azriel! It was unexpected and hilarious. The character growth for both of them is something I am definitely looking forward to.
  • Just getting to see the characters relax and have a good time with no war or death for once.

Cons:

Let me preface by saying that although I am critiquing parts of this novella, I want readers to be aware that Sarah J Maas was going through an exceptionally hard time while writing this book. She details everything in her monthly newsletter . With all that was going on, it is a wonder she was even able to produce the book. I would hope that my readers would understand a situation like that and perhaps not judge me quite so harshly for the work I produced during that time.

  • I noticed in this book, more than others (or perhaps I am just getting tired of the repetition), that certain words and phrases were used overmuch. The way that Rhys and Feyre describe each other/their love is very repetitive. I noticed the phrase “make them see red” was used a few different times. I have never been a fan of the words “shattered” and “roared” when describing orgasms and they were used way too much during the one sex scene here. That kind of stuff just stood out to me more this time.
  • I was kind of let down by the Solstice and gift giving celebration. Much like the war and mirror scenes in ACOWAR, it felt like it was built up and then we did not really get the payoff we were expecting.
  •  Amren did not seem to have the presence in this book that she normally does. She seemed more tame and more of a side character, although the lines she did have were generally blunt and amusing.
  • The sex scene was a little much. And not in a graphic way, just a heavy-handed kind of way.
  • The writing was a bit more tell and not as much show. The messages and themes were less subtle than they are usually written.
  • Although I find the potential stories interesting, I am still kind of meh regarding entire series about Mor or Tamlin 🤷🏻‍♀️. They just don’t super interest me yet.

Well! That may have been a little longer than I intended, but that tends to happen when I am talking about Maas’ books. What did you guys think?

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While it wasn’t quite purrfect, it was entertaining and set up the next books perfectly.

Thanks and happy reading!

-Chelsi

Wordery | Book Depository

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