Books & Literature

Book Review: A Court of Silver Flames, by Sarah J. Maas

FANTASY: As the threat of war casts its shadow over them once again, Nesta and Cassian must fight monsters from within and without if they are to stand a chance of halting the enemies of their court.

The highly anticipated spin-off was worth the wait.

A Court of Silver Flames is the highly anticipated fifth book in Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) series (if you include the novella, A Court of Frost and Starlight). You will need to have read the first three books (at least) in the series to appreciate and understand the backstory of these characters. ACOTAR is by far my favourite series and with a three-year wait between this book and the last, expectations were high.

This story follows the journey of Nesta Archeron, the sister you either loved or hated. Nesta is proud, arrogant and angry, struggling with the trauma left behind by the war against Hybern and losing her former life and identity. She is doing her best to push everyone away. Her family reaches their limit with her self-destructive ways and coerces her into a “rehab” of sorts where she’s forced to spend her days training with Cassian and working in the library. They hope to save her from herself.

Meanwhile, a new threat emerges with the return of the human queens who fled the last war. The Night Court must work with old enemies in a race to locate the items of ‘The Dread Trove’ before they fall into the wrong hands.

I was not a fan of Nesta going into this book. However, Maas did what she does best and made me feel empathy towards a character I didn’t like. While it was a slow burn to redemption for Nesta, her thoughts and feelings during her mental health struggles were relatable. Maas tackled difficult topics such as unworthiness, grief, depression, and sexual violence realistically and respectfully. Watching Nesta learn to heal herself and develop her own found-family turned my feelings toward her around. 

The first four books in the series were classed as Young Adult. However, it is clear from the frequency and description of sex scenes that this book has firmly moved into an Adult classification. Much like the mid-series cover change, this is a confusing and disappointing decision. The original trilogy and novella were already more graphic than any other YA series I had read. So, I’m not sure why the decision was made to push it further, making it unsuitable for younger audiences. I found the majority of the sex scenes were unnecessary and slowed the story down, so much so that I skimmed the pages until they ‘got out of bed’.

It was obvious throughout the story that Maas is already setting up the next book which is likely to focus on the third Archeron sister Elain. This led to a somewhat anti-climactic yet still satisfying ending. I can understand why this book has received so many mixed reviews. Maas still brings her A-game in writing characters with depth and explores a different type of love story—one that is in contrast to Feyre, which is not surprising. 

Ultimately, the story fell short for me due to the aforementioned excess of sex scenes and Feyre and Rhys taking a less active role in the story. I expected they would step back, but the reasons seemed a bit unrealistic. 

Overall, though, I did enjoy the story; it still gave me all the feels I would expect from a Maas book. With its focus on female empowerment, it expanded on Sarah’s strength of writing strong and relatable characters.

Reviewed by Jessica Incoll
Twitter: @littlejadventur

Distributed by: Bloomsbury
Released: 16 February 2021
RRP: $29.99

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