A Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Before I start this book review of ACOWAR, I need to say this wasn’t as bad as the previous book. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas is the third installment in her ACOTAR series. This is yet another book of hers with astounding reviews. Although I couldn’t grasp it or even fully enjoy it, there’s a lot more adventure going on. And that’s a plus.

(Review contains spoilers.)

Book review ACOMAF by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin official cover art
A Court of Wings and Ruin official cover art

My rating: ★★★ (3/5)

Summary: After Hybern turned Feyre’s sisters into faes, Feyre returns to the Spring Court. Pretending to have broken free from a “spell” Rhysand put on her, Feyre tries to destroy the Spring Court. In doing so, she hopes to weaken Hybern. The Night Court prepares for the war against Hybern and has a hard time finding allies.

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Audience: Young Adult/New Adult

Themes/potential trigger warnings: violence, gore, severe lack of structure

Her name is Bond. Feyre Bond.

ACOWAR picks up right where we left off in the previous volume, but frankly, the first 10 chapters are an absolute clown fiesta. The premise of this book is that Feyre will bring vengeance. Tamlin, who supposedly became allies with the King of Hybern, has wronged her. She returns to the Spring Court intending to bring it down. In fact, Tamlin allowed the “Evil Priestess” Ianthe to abduct and turn Feyre’s sisters into faes against their will. I’m not saying the premise is 100% bad. I dig it. But the execution wasn’t great.

My problem with Feyre is that she never quite made it clear to Tamlin how she felt even before ACOMAF escalated into the whole “let’s make this personality-deprived romantic interest the main villain in Feyre’s narrative.” She sent him a note, which anyone in their right mind could’ve suspected was fake. (Remember, Tamlin doesn’t know Feyre learned how to read and write.) And when Tamlin tries to “save her,” her reaction is to drag his court into the ground. Not him, not Ianthe, but the entire court full of people who literally worshipped the ground she walked on since she broke the curse in ACOTAR. So ACOWAR turns into this Gossip Girl rip-off for 10 chapters, with Feyre’s not-so-subtle manipulation tactics that only Lucien seems to notice. [Insert temporary IQ nerf for everyone else.] The best part is that she is proud to say she is smart for solving Amarantha’s riddle. I don’t have enough hands for all the facepalming I need to do.

Enter this slow-paced RPG!

After this introduction, Feyre returns to the Night Court. For maybe 50 chapters, I was looking for the plot. I had no freaking clue where it was because everything was all over the place. There’s a war, but there are so many side quests to this RPG that at some point, you wonder if this war is as imminent as they say. I mean, the King of Hybern chilled for what, hundreds of years? Maybe he changed his mind by now because we spend more time with the Bone Carver than planning military tactics.

The pace picks up by the time the war takes place and it was good to see that there were several battles before it ended. My only question is why was the Wall important? Why was decimating the human realm important? This King had a better military, more allies (who never showed up, I guess they didn’t get the memo?) and he wanted to get to the continent. The plot tells us that Prythian stood between the King and the continent, but he had a fleet so he could’ve simply sailed away to his actual destination. And what’s with bringing down the Wall when he could’ve docked directly in the South? This makes absolutely no sense.

But let’s pretend that it does. Feyre brought many leveled-up NPCs in this fight like the nightmarish creature from Rhys’ library, but they many go down as if they were never “gods” to begin with. Looking at you, Stryga. Then, Maas lifts the temporary IQ nerf because Tamlin, another “””unexpected””” master manipulator, turns out to be an ally and he saves not only Feyre but also Rhys.

This book was very confusing and I think what disgusted me was when, at the beginning, Feyre triggers Tamlin’s obvious PTSD and anger issues and doesn’t shield herself from his power to make it look like he intentionally and cruelly beats women. That is so toxic on so many levels. And it didn’t help me get into the book.

Harmful representation?

Anyway, personality-deprived villains and predictable twists aside, it wasn’t all bad. Thankfully, the side characters have dominant personalities and prove to be useful in the most dreadful moments. I enjoyed reading Amren, Cassian, Nesta, Lucien, and even Mor. I know a bunch of people think Mor’s bisexuality was harmful representation, but as a bisexual person who knows other bisexual people—I don’t think so.

A lot of bisexual individuals go through what Mor went through with her family and her feelings. I also disagree with the people who say there is no diversity in Maas’ novels because, given the descriptions of all the characters, aside from the Archeron sisters, everyone is brown or black. Their features aren’t exactly “white” so I’m not sure what’s going on there. Some readers need to check less fanart and read the description of the characters. So maybe everyone is esthetically pleasing, but they are faeries. Aren’t they supposed to be beautiful? Or at least exotic in this universe?

Does anyone know Hybern’s name? Or Feyre’s father’s name?

No, but like really? Are we supposed to give a damn about either, or see them as believable? They. Don’t. Even. Have. A. Name.

The fourth installment of this series is A Court of Frost and Starlight. Read my review here.