The most recent YA books I’ve read are Suzanne Collin’s ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy and Victoria Schwab’s ‘Monsters of Verity’ duology. Were there heated, passionate moments in those books, yes. Was there spine tingling sex scenes, nope. I had the assumption that full on sex was part of the dividing line separating YA from other categories. But if that is the case, then this series is in the wrong section. I can’t help but wonder if a decision was made that impossibly attractive faeries having sex was not serious enough to put it in the ‘adult’ fantasy section. A Court of Mist and Fury has Fae Courts maneuvering for power, an overwhelming evil infiltrating and waiting to strike, a chosen one who might be the savior of all, the ‘Court of…’ books are epic fantasy in scope AND have sex. Is YA perceived to be an easier market to target because of the romance at the heart of the story? Have I made wrong assumptions about what YA actually means and encompasses because of my extremely small sample size? If any Cannonballers can weigh in on what defines YA, I’d be curious about your thoughts.
Just as with the first book A Court of Thorns and Roses, I have been reading this every spare moment and neglecting chores in the process. The drama of these characters and the emotions driving them quickly pulled me back into their world. Previously, against all odds, Feyre ran Amarantha’s the gauntlet of death, defeating the impossible tasks given her with the help of the cruel and cunning High Lord, Rhysand (Rhys), who binds her to a promise of one week out of every month that she will come to his court, the dark and brutal Night Court. In the final moments of the book Feyre’s was life was snuffed out and she was reborn Fae through the combined powers of all seven of the Fae High Lords. Instead of death, our heroine, is resurrected and reunited with her lover, Tamlin, the one she put herself through hell to save from the clutches of Amarantha. The book ends on a relatively high note. The start of the second book is about two months from that moment.
Feyre is not dealing well with the after effects having been held prisoner by Amarantha and the horrors she endured during her time Under the Mountain, including nightmares and nightly vomit sessions. She is broken, without purpose, and even though back with Tamlin, lonely. Tamlin is broken as well, and the two seem unable to communicate with each other anymore. Having watched her die once, Tamlin refuses Feyre any freedom for fear of losing her again. But his love is not healthy and he refuses to see how he is killing her by inches. Every request to leave the estate is batted aside and he insists she not explore the magical talents she acquired from her resurrection. As the day of their wedding swiftly approaches, Feyre feels more and more trapped and unhappy. Walking down the aisle she balks at taking the the final steps, silently begging for someone to save her. And in a clap of thunder and night, Rhysand appears and demands that it is time for Feyre to come to the Night Court and fulfill her part of the bargain made, that he would return her unharmed in a week, and the two disappear.
Feyre despises Rhys and doesn’t know what to expect from her time at the ‘Court of Nightmares’, she is taken by surprise at what she finds, a peaceful retreat from the suffocation of being Tamlin’s precious betrothed. After two visits to Rhys, Tamlin enspells his mansion to trap Feyre and prevent her leaving. She breaks down completely at being made a prisoner and summons a shell of darkness, sending an incoherent cry down the bond forged with Rhys at their promise making. For fear of starting a war between the courts of Night and Spring, Rhys sends his cousin Morrigan to rescue Feyre and bring her back to the Night Court.
What follows is a slow realization of just how broken she was and a dawning understanding that Rhys’s face of cruel High Lord is just one mask among many, as he shifts through different roles,. Underneath it all, he is broken in his own way from their shared trials. As time goes, on we learn the why’s of his behavior previously and all aforementioned actions are viewed in a completely different light. Feyre falling in love with Tamlin was like a bright flash. With Rhys it is a slow building of heat, as the two verbally spar flirtatiously with one another, leading into a long simmer as intensity of feelings begin to bloom. As they begin to heal one another, their feelings become heightened and the sexual tension increases.
Their romance is set against the backdrop of the foreign Fae King, Hyburn, maneuvering to unleash his armies upon Prythian, bring the Fae Courts to heel, and enslave the humans once more as they were five hundred years ago. Hyburn will wash the land in fae and human blood to seize control and will let nothing get in his way. His plans are deep and wide reaching. As things are coming together for Feyre and Rhys, I noticed the length of book left and became concerned about what new torment was coming their way.
The book is about survivors of trauma, feelings of self worth, finding the ability to heal and re-learn what love is and isn’t. It’s also about political machinations, plots and intrigue, and the lead up to what will be wholesale slaughter unless war can somehow be averted. Which leads me back around to the question of why this is in YA, or do I just have a misunderstanding of what makes something YA? Regardless, I can’t wait to find out how Feyre and Rhys get out of the predicament they find themselves in at the end of A Court of Mist and Fury.