Colleen W. of BookPeople’s Teen Press Corps shares her thoughts on her favorite author’s latest: Sarah J Maas’s A Court of Silver Flames! You can find more of Colleen’s reviews over on the Teen Press Corps blog!
*Note: This review will not contain spoilers beyond what is present in the synopsis of the book until stated otherwise. It will, however, contain spoilers for the original ACOTAR trilogy, which you should have read already if you’re here to discuss A Court of Silver Flames (it is definitely necessary if you’re new).*
Welcome to the adult world of Sarah J Maas! I’ve been reading Sarah’s books since 2013, so I consider my eight year journey with her experience enough to make me a relative expert on her works.
Sarah has always pushed the border between YA, New Adult, and Adult with her content, but A Court of Silver Flames is 100% adult, no doubts about it. It is not for the youngins, faint of heart, or introductory fantasy readers. I don’t like putting age restriction or requirements on books because everyone has their own levels of tolerance and knowledge, but please note this book contains explicit adult content, so if you’re under 17 and reading this, please don’t tell me.
On to the other aspects of the story, ACOSF takes place after the devastating war with Hybern, which left Prythian in a precarious peace between the High Lord’s territories, human realms, and distant faerie lands. In the midst of attempting to secure stability across the lands, the human queens have formed a threatening alliance, a threat that may only be thwarted by Nesta.
Focusing on plot first, I really enjoyed the ideas revolving in the background of Nesta’s journey towards recovery after the terrors of the war. I love a well structured, world-ending threat. The storyline involving the human queen and the challenges Nesta and Cassian have to undergo in order to combat her was powerful and unique, however it felt incredibly rushed. Much of the main and subplots of this story including the queen, information surrounding the Illyrians (which was a significant topic many readers wished to pursue more with Nesta and Cassian’s story) felt underdeveloped or shoved quickly into the last 200 pages or so of the book. I enjoy when characters drive the plot and really participate in it, but much of this story up until the end is solely time spent with Nesta, Cassian, and our new cast of characters in essentially one place, waiting for the background plot to become more pressing.
Character-wise, I will always be a Feysand fan, so seeing the Inner Circle and our original crew through Nesta’s lense was difficult for me. She harbors so much resentment and judgement towards them while simultaneously refusing to take any comments from them she deems unfair or rude. This perspective did two things for me 1. Made it hard for me to get behind Nesta and defend her for much of the book and 2. Pointed out flaws and personality traits I previously overlooked in the Inner Circle because the critiques came from an “outsider”. Nesta as a narrator was unique in that aspect and her journey felt raw and consistent with her character. Her take on the world, other characters, and the actions of those around her was eye-opening.
“A Court of Silver Flames is truly a story of growth, showing us no mountain can be conquered alone, no darkness can be battled with only light, and no sorrow lasts forever…”
This book, at its heart, is rooted in Nesta’s healing alongside Cassian. Her road to healing and helping others heal was the core of the novel and struck deep and true. I loved her struggle and the way Sarah portrayed her trauma and consequential transformation. So while I originally had a hard time connecting with Nesta over wishing for the plot to become more prevalent, by the end I felt satisfied with the exploration of her character. The book truly changed my opinion of Nesta, because she reflected many of the inner struggles a lot of readers also confront in their lives and the portrayal of her battles felt real and impactful.
Overall, A Court of Silver Flames is Nesta’s journey, not a tale about the Inner Circle or the fragile realms. It focuses on our new, incredible set of characters whom Nesta encounters, as well as her faults, powers, and growth as a person. My personal critiques aside, this book is carried by Nesta’s strong personality and developing relationship with Cassian, which delivers every promised aspect of tension, steam, and utter heartbreak.
I highly recommend A Court of Silver Flames because seeing Nesta’s point of view is so important not only in terms of the story but for the mental health representation Nesta embodies to readers. You will swoon and cry and feel your heart ache throughout the story and feel yourself become more connected to a character you previously were distanced from.
A Court of Silver Flames is truly a story of growth, showing us no mountain can be conquered alone, no darkness can be battled with only light, and no sorrow lasts forever.
— Colleen W.
*Spoilery thoughts below! Do not continue reading if you have not finished ACOSF!!! It will also contain spoilers for both the Rhys and Feyre bonus chapter and the Azriel bonus chapter.*
- Firstly, I had a lot of issues with the pregnancy storyline. I don’t understand how we have characters powerful enough to snap people into bloody mists and winnow across oceans and mind control people, but somehow we can’t safely perform a c-section? I refuse to believe we almost lost Feyre, Rhys, and Nyx to poorly structured anatomy.
- Nesta and the Dread Trove was so cool! I was really upset when she gave up her powers because her abilities were so interesting and relatively unexplored because she hated her gift so much.
- However, her giving up her powers to save Feyre, saying “I love you” to her, and Rhys kneeling in thanks brought me to tears. It was a beautiful moment for Nesta finally connecting again with Feyre and becoming family with Rhys whom she’d been so at odds with.
- Anyone else think that the red streak in the sky at Starfall was definitely a reference to Kingdom of Ash?? Multiverse anyone?
- I love love love Gwyn, Emerie, and Nesta as friends and Valkyries!! Their bond was incredible and powerful and their trial in The Blood Rite absolutely destroyed me. The library, the priestesses training…. all of it emphasized the strength of those women and women like them taking steps to beat their demons.
- I also enjoyed the message behind Nesat conquering the stairs as well as the concept of the House as something Nesta Made. Their romance novel exchanges made me chuckle.
- Gwynriel!! Nessian!! Mor and Emerie! The ships!