So, it’s March! And this is my first review! Which tells you a lot about how my reading has been going this year. I hit a major slump just after Christmas (and in fact, still haven’t finished reading the book I was really into at that time). So I picked a book that I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy, but was pretty sure I would have Thoughts on: A Court of Silver Flames, by Sarah J. Maas. I’m trying to make this one relatively spoiler free.
I’m lucky to have a really good Book Friend (and just general friend) in my city, and we have gone on some pandemic outdoors walks in the snow to talk about books. One of the ones that came up was the newest SJM. We had mixed expectations: my friend is not a fan of Nesta, while I found her much more interesting than Feyre. But when my friend said that SJM had thrown off the trappings of ‘YA’ (more like ‘YA *winkwinkwink*’) and gone full adult in this book, I was intrigued. Also, apparently there was a threesome scene that was cut?! So I was like, y’know, fine, I’ll read some melodramatic sexy Fae stuff.
So this book is pretty much just sex scenes loosely strung together with ‘plot’. The plot is… minimal, to say the least. Nesta has been drinking and having lots of sex to deal with her trauma, her sisters and friends get mad and send her to train with Cassian. Which shows that they are completely oblivious, or that they’re like “Nesta can’t be having sex with strangers, only with people from our weird incestuous group that we call a family even though most of us have had sex or want to have sex with the others at this point!!!” The ‘plot’ is that the human queens from the previous book are up to something, and they have an alliance with the Autumn Court. There is also a LOT of working out. Like, that’s 30% of the plot, at least. There’s also that other SJM trope, #squadgoals (which was fine, but predictable), which was also part of the workout plot, so let’s up that to 45% (10% is the human queens/’political intrigue’ plot and the remaining 45% is sex or thinking about sex or thinking about wanting to have sex. I am not exaggerating). I did like Cassian as a love interest, though; he has major himbo vibes.
And OMG you guys, the sex in this book is……. something. Like, I don’t think I’m necessarily a prude despite my New England Catholic upbringing, but I am definitely pretty vanilla and I don’t read romance or erotica on a regular basis. I blushed furiously through reading The Captive Prince (though mostly because the sexual tension was, like, really hot). And I was just not prepared for the sex in this book. There was one blowjob scene I took a screenshot of and sent to my husband, and he was just like “what are you reading?!?!” (he was also very taken aback by the Bridgerton TV show). It is probably pretty standard for romance, but it was not standard for what I normally read. Cheers to all the teens whose parents don’t realize this book has been aged up, because they are about to get educated (at least educated in weirdly rough, painful-sounding sex? To each her own, but I was often just like “that… sounds uncomfortable, Nesta?”)
I feel like this book says a LOT about SJM. She can basically just write fanfiction of her own work that consists of sexual fantasies and her clear love of working out, and I am sure her fans will eat this UP. And y’know what, good for her. There is clearly a market and people love her books, and who am I to rain on that parade? I just think publishing should embrace New Adult Fantasy as a genre.
That’s not to say the book isn’t enjoyable. It was fun! It was sexy, especially when the tension was high! The detestable word ‘mate’ was used much less frequently than in the other ACOTAR books!* It was just clearly a vehicle for SJM to tell her fans about all the hot sex her characters can have now that they’re no longer YA. And it got my to actually write a review, so thank you, SJM. I look forward to reading the Very Sexy Adventures of whoever’s next (Mor? Elain? Azriel? I feel like Azriel could get it on with like 5 different women at this point).
I welcome any and all speculations about the infamous threesome scene in the comments.
*Insert my usual SJM language rant here: I was so sick of mates, which I always read in an Aussie accent, by the end of the third ACOTAR book (don’t ask me to remember their names). Also just the whole concept squicks me. “Your fated love interest, even if she’s not interested” (leave Elain alone, Lucien, you loser). ACOSF used my least favourite Maas-ism, “huffed a laugh”, at a dramatic moment and y’know what, it made ME laugh this time. No knees barked, but Nesta did have bleating thighs, which WHAT?? First dog-knees and now sheep-thighs?? What is with these weirdly animate body parts?