This book had such potential, but unfortunately fell disappointingly short. That said, I won’t trash it entirely. The novel kept me reading, even though at times I was scratching my head with the inconsistencies and sudden, impromptu twists. The story had intricate elements which were at best intriguing, but at many points did not cohesively mesh together.
1 – Pacing issues. For 800 pages, perhaps the story would’ve gripped the audience more securely if things had been sped up. I do not know if the book was rushed in its editing period, but I felt as though at minimum 200 pages might have been trimmed down even further, if not removed entirely.
2 – When twists surfaced in the plot, I often felt they had not been properly set up for the reader. They came without warning and sometimes felt out of character for the person in question. Perhaps more foreshadowing would’ve aided the transitions and actions.
3 – The copious amount of swearing, and mostly at the beginning of the novel, felt as if it cheapened the writing. Having read Maas’ other works, I know how well she can write without resorting to that measure. They began to feel like a crutch to support the story, especially since about halfway through the book, less expletives were used by the characters. That character inconsistency there made it feel as if they were unnecessary and added only for shock effect.
Note: I’ve read and enjoyed many books where the characters swore (and far more copiously and colorfully than in this one), but it seemed natural for them to do so. The usages in this dialogue seemed unnecessary and forced.
4 – The allusions to banging everyone in the bathroom only added to that ‘cheapened’ effect. And considering everyone knows that Maas’ previous adult books have been loaded with sex scenes and pulled them off without devaluing the story or the characters (Rhysand and Feyre being deliciously sinful examples), it was disappointing.
When the two protagonists finally did get around to their love scene, all the other references to meaningless sex had already burned out the powerful effect of a good romance scene. It’d already weakened the moment to the point it didn’t stand out at all between the two of them and felt like more of the same we’d already read. It made the attraction less meaningful. In this sense, a double positive equalled a dismal double negative.
5 – Character issues. Much of the character building was lovely and very well done. The devastation of many of the events was very well expressed and brought sympathy for the characters. But again, things would often surface that did not feel consistent.
(SPOILER) Hunt, for example, as a trained soldier, was unrealistically unaware of his surroundings at times. When he was ambushed twice, it felt as though he deserved it for being so lax about monitoring the goings on around him. I’ve known soldiers, and they keep their eyes open so to speak. It was out of character for him and his skill set.
When the novel finally did get to the climax, the story exploded. The last 150 pages were fantastic and kept my attention flawlessly. Everything was action packed and it leapt off the page. I only wish the beginning half or more of the novel matched it. The few glimmers of action in the beginning and middle act of the book were promising, but did not keep up the momentum. If they had, the story would’ve been outstanding. They felt like two different books entirely, but with the same characters.
I almost feel as if this book would’ve benefited from more time spent being edited and smoothed out. All the elements of a sizzling best seller were there, but the potential for it was seemingly unreached. Having read Maas’ other works, this novel could’ve surpassed them entirely. Unfortunately, it did not.
All I can hope is that these kind of issues will not plague the next in this series. Or the next book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series, A Court of Silver Flames, which is set to release next January.
Regretfully, 3 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
– Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel
If you enjoy Urban Fantasy action and romance series, you may instead enjoy:
Cursed Hart: Book 1 in the Vaktare of All Realms series, TOP TEN FINALIST FOR BEST URBAN FANTASY 2019 – CAFFIENATED FANTASY AWARDS. –