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A Court of Jealousy and Haters: ACOTAR chapter six or “Masquerade! Mediocrity on display!”

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As promised, I’m importing the A Court of Thorns and Roses recaps here from Patreon. These were originally written beginning in August of 2020, so there will be references to upcoming or seasonal events that won’t fit with our current timeline. I am not a time traveler and you’ll never be able to prove that I am. I will also include editors notes like this every now and then as we go, mostly to amuse myself but to give re-read value to those who’ve already been on this awful, awful journey with me.

CW: disordered eating thoughts, ableism

Hey there, readers. If you were imagining a fantastic world ruled by magical, beautiful beings, what would it look like?

The estate sprawled across a rolling green land.

Okay, I can work with that. I mean, there’s an incredibly lush fantasy world in Ashes of Love and it’s a lot of rolling green land, too, so it’s not like the concept can’t work, right? Grass is grass. It doesn’t have to be majykkal grass, you know? ed. — You should watch Ashes of Love.

It was veiled in roses and ivy, with patios and balconies and staircases sprouting from its alabaster sides. The grounds were encased by woods, but stretched so far that I could barely see the distant line of the forest. So much color, so much sunlight and movement and texture … I could hardly drink it in fast enough. 

…oh. Well. I mean, I guess a lot of trees and flowers and sunlight can also be…interesting…

Above the array of amethyst irises and pale snowdrops and butter-yellow daffodils swaying in the balmy breeze, the faint stench of metal ticked my nostrils.

…even if they’re like, the exact same flowers you have back home and painted all over your house. But good news, the new place appears to be near a leaking nuclear reactor!

Of course it would be magic, because it was spring here. 

That’s much better news! I would definitely prefer the smell of magic to the smell of radiation poisoning.

Now, maybe you’re thinking, wow, Jenny, you’re being so harsh, a lot of fantasy lands out there look like this. The Shire, Wonderland, those places look just like an alternate but slightly sunnier world and you’re not shitting on those books!


What wretched power did they possess to make their lands so different from ours, to control the seasons and weather as if they owned them?

The fairies in this book are so all-powerful that they can control the weather and make their lands different…and they chose to just be a year-round version of the good part of the rest of the place.

This is what makes me so mad about this book. The wasted potential.

And the fact that it is really starting to Disney up the place. I mean, come on. Read this:

The faerie meandered on ahead, leaping nimbly up the grand marble staircase that led to the giant oak doors in one mighty, fluid movement. 

I know you saw The Beast leaping around the enchanted castle. I know you did. The doors even open for him as if by magic.

He’d planned this entire arrival, no doubt—keeping me unconscious so I didn’t know where I was, didn’t know the way home or what other deadly faerie territories might be lurking between me and the wall.

I mean, of course, he planned the entire arrival. So far, it’s been just going to his house. It’s not like he pretended he had no idea where he was going and surprise, there’s a “WELCOME FEYRE!” banner over the doors or something. There hasn’t been a whole “Be Our Guest” number yet.

While she was unconscious, he also confiscated her knife, so she has no way to fight.

You know what I just realized? Feyre has been unconscious for two days. Wouldn’t she have to really go pee by now?

I glanced over my shoulder toward the still-open gates. If I were to bolt, it would have to be now.

South—all I had to do was go south, and I would eventually make it to the wall.

There is a fine line between a character being strong and smart and a character being arrogant as shit about their own abilities. Feyre consistently crosses that line. How many times has she confidently stated that she knows this or that about the faeries, then later she’s like, oh, shit, I didn’t know that? And here she’s going, well, I’ve been unconscious for two days at least, I have no idea where I am, I’m in a land that is so dangerous to me that I’m sure I’ll be or-worsed within five seconds of crossing the border but I can definitely outrun this dude who can control the weather, especially on his turf and especially while breaking an ancient treaty.

She even tries to get the horse to run. Like, hello, it’s not your horse. The liberties you are taking with this horse, madame. I would like to speak to your supervisor.

Since the horse won’t help her, she decides she’s going to escape on foot.

My knees buckled as I hit the ground, bits of light flashing in my vision. I grasped the saddle and winced as soreness and hunger racked my senses. Now—I had to go now. I made to move, but the world was still spinning and flashing. 

Only a fool would run with no food, no strength.

At least she finally gets it and isn’t going to try to run. That was always an asinine plan.

I took a long, shuddering breath. Food—getting food, then running at the next opportune moment. It sounded like a solid plan. 

Oh, Feyre. No, it doesn’t.

She accepts her fate for a second and goes inside the beast’s house:

Inside, it was even more opulent. Black-and-white checkered marble shone at my feet, flowing to countless doors and a sweeping staircase. A long hall stretched ahead to the giant glass doors at the other end of the house, and through them I glimpsed a second garden, grander than the one out front. No sign of a dungeon—no shouts or pleas rising up from hidden chambers below. No, just the low growl from a nearby room, so deep that it rattled the vases overflowing with fat clusters of hydrangea atop the scattered hall tables. As if in response, an open set of polished wooden doors swung wider to my left. A command to follow.

I wonder if they’ll meet at the top of that grand, sweeping staircase and dance while their teapot friend sings and creepily watches their date with her child.

Also, why would the dungeon be where you could see it right when you walk in? I thought dungeons were supposed to be secret and hidden away so people didn’t know what was going on down there.

So, Feyre is super impressed at this place.

I’d known the High Fae had once built themselves palaces and temples around the world—buildings that my mortal ancestors had destroyed after the War out of spite—but I’d never considered how they might live today, the elegance and wealth they might possess. Never contemplated that the faeries, these feral monsters, might own estates grander than any mortal dwelling.

Weird, because in chapter three you said that the mortals built those palaces for the High Fae, and that after the war the faeries took their magic behind the wall while the mortals fell into ruin and despair or whatever. Did you think these all-powerful beings were living in shanty towns? Once again, we have the story contradicting itself.

Now, we’ve reached the “Be Our Guest” portion of this tale. Feyre walks into a dining hall with a long table piled high with a sumptuous feast, of faerie delights, no doubt.

At least it was familiar, and not some strange faerie delicacy: chicken, bread, peas, fish, asparagus, lamb … it could have been a feast at any mortal manor. 

Again, you’ve got the chance to make this big, magical world for your protagonist to discover and adapt to, but you’re choosing instead to be like, well, thank god we can dodge the “food” portion of the world-building.

Why bother writing fantasy if you don’t feel like actually committing to the fantasy?

This is actually a critique I made of YA Fantasy recently when talking to a fellow reader; so much of what passes for “high fantasy” aimed at a teen audience is just Twilight with elves.

This is just Beauty and the Beast with fairies.

I lingered by the threshold, gazing at the food—all that hot, glorious food—that I couldn’t eat. That was the first rule we were taught as children, usually in songs or chants: If misfortune forced you to keep company with a faerie, you never drank their wine, never ate their food.

The reason for this rule is to avoid getting enslaved and kidnapped to Prythian, which Feyre admits has already pretty much happened, aside from surrendering “body and soul” to their thrall, which she’s gonna avoid by not eating.

Hey, remember when she was like, I’m going to go inside and find food so that I can escape?

Where was she planning to find the food that doesn’t belong to faeries while she’s in their whole fucking land?

That was the first rule they were taught as children but she didn’t remember it when she was planning on going inside and eat? She only just remembered it when she got to the table?

I feel like the editor who acquired and/or edited this one was so dazzled by it that they went, “No notes!”

Reader, there were notes.

The beast plopped into the chair, the wood groaning, and, in a flash of white light, turned into a golden-haired man. 

So, one of my favorite fantasy romances of all time is Goddess of the Rose by P.C. Cast. Now, I don’t like her House of Night books because they are loaded with ableist slurs and tons of misogyny. However, I respect Goddess of the Rose because you know what? She had the courage to write a Beauty and the Beast retelling and go there.

But whatever. Guess Feyre ain’t gonna have handlebars–pardon, elk horns– to hold onto when they end up banging.

Now, back to our continuing inconsistencies.

This beast was not a man, not a lesser faerie. He was one of the High Fae, one of their ruling nobility: beautiful, lethal, and merciless. 

Feyre, who has never seen a faerie except for the one she thought was a wolf, who didn’t know anything about how the treaty actually operated, who seems to know things only when it’s convenient for moving the story along or establishing a fact for the reader but who has no fucking clue about anything when it adds tension, knows on sight that this dude is definitely and for sure a High Fae. See, we the reader needed to know that, so Feyre conveniently is super familiar with what these creatures look like.

Heads up, if you were wondering? This is a bad way to write fantasy. If the reader needs to know something and you’re writing in first-person POV, you’d better have a way for the character to tell the reader or for the reader to deduce this thing themselves. I would have had no trouble with this line about him being High Fae if we’d been told at some point that Feyre had seen drawings of them or there was something about them that she knew and which she can immediately recognize. For example, if the earlier wolf-kill included a thought that it might be High Fae because they’re the only ones who can shape-shift or something like that, I could buy this. Oh, yeah, we know they’re the only ones that shape-shift so this guy is High Fae. I can dig it.

Instead, we’ve got St. Feyre of the Blessed Selective Amnesia just not knowing things because the author didn’t decide early whether or not her character was the leading expert in faerie biology or someone who’d only ever heard folk tales and had no idea what the treaty that supposedly governed every moment of her day actually said. You can meet in the middle, but those are the two ends of the spectrum we’ve been presented with.

He was young—or at least what I could see of his face seemed young. His nose, cheeks, and brows were covered by an exquisite golden mask embedded with emeralds shaped like whorls of leaves.

While the mask detail is indeed cool, can we back up to the he is/seems young thing? It’s another fucking contradiction. Earlier in the book, we hear that these High Fae are centuries old.  She knows he’s not young, and seems doesn’t really fit here. People hate “looked” but damn, “appeared young” or “had a deceptively youthful face,” any of that would have worked.

Unlike the elegance of his mask, the dark green tunic he wore was rather plain, accented only with a leather baldric across his broad chest. It was more for fighting than style, even though he bore no weapons I could detect. Not just one of the High Fae, but … a warrior, too.

A baldric is literally just a belt. It could be attached to a weapon, but they were also used to carry drums and horns and whatnot into battle. If he doesn’t have a weapon attached to it, maybe he’s not a warrior? Maybe he’s just wearing a fucking accessory.

Like, how does she know so much about High Fae fashion that she can look at a single item of clothing and go, “Oh, that’s definitely for fighting, that’s not fancy enough to be for anything else.” Bitch, your cultures have been separated for centuries! It might be a new trend! You don’t fucking know.

And the only thing stopping Feyre from NOT being an insufferable, Claire-Fraser-in-Drums-of-Autumn-level know-it-all is the fucking phrasing. Like, what was stopping Feyre from thinking, “Such a plain baldric looked out of place with his regal attire. Though I could detect no weapon at his side, in my village such a belt would have marked him out as one of the traveling mercenaries,” or something like that. Something that tells us how she knows what she knows, what experience she’s drawing from, rather than setting it up like she’s just pulling all this out of her ass without a moment’s curiosity.

The good news is that while Maas is making absolutely no attempt to do any of that, she is committed to reminding us that we’re too incompetent to be trusted with details we’ve already been given:

If I moved fast, I could be out of the house and sprinting for the gate within seconds. He was undoubtedly faster—but chucking some of those pretty pieces of hallway furniture in his path might slow him down. Though his Fae ears—with their delicate, pointed arches—would pick up any whisper of movement from me.

Thanks, I was wondering if faeries were faster than humans. It’s never been mentioned before. The most infuriating part of this is that while we’re bludgeoned over the head with how fast and lethal the High Fae are and how no escape is possible, Feyre is still constantly thinking about all the ways she could definitely pull off an escape.

I really feel like all the tension in this book is on a constant cycle of the heroine telling us something then contradicting it in her own head at every opportunity. Or, the author telling us something then contradicting it on her protagonist’s behalf.

Here’s another example. When Feyre refuses the High Fae’s offer of food, he realizes it’s because she wants to escape. He says:

“Leave, if you want,” he added with a flash of teeth. “I’m not your jailer. The gates are open—you can live anywhere in Prythian.”

He came to her house, gave her the choice to come live with him–specifically on his lands–because that’s what the super important treaty demands. Now, they’re at his house and he’s like, wtf, why would you think I wanted you to stay here? I’m not the boss of you.

Except he kidnapped her and tied her up and told her she has to stay with him forever. That’s kind of a jailer, friends.

And no doubt be eaten or tormented by a wretched faerie. But while every inch of this place was civilized and clean and beautiful, I had to get out, had to get back. That promise to my mother, cold and vain as she was, was all I had. I made no move toward the food.

“I need food to escape! But I can’t eat this food and everybody knows that! But I’m going to collapse because I’m so dangerously starved so I’ll never be able to escape without eating this food! But I can’t eat this food! Also, I have a vow to my mother that I guess didn’t matter all that much in the last chapter when I said I didn’t care if my family died just so long as it meant more dead faeries! Hey! Are you gonna listen to what I’m telling you or what you read a few pages ago?!”

So the beast is, like, that’s fine by me, whatever, and starts fixing himself a plate. And then another guy comes in:

[…] –another High Fae: red-haired and finely dressed in a tunic of muted silver. He, too, wore a mask. He sketched a bow to the seated male and then crossed his arms. Somehow, he hadn’t spotted me where I was still pressed against the wall. 

Well, he probably didn’t see you because you’re so skinny skinny skinny skinny skinny skinny skinny skinny skinny skinny skinny skinny skinny.

The newcomer asks the not-beast if Andras is dead.

A nod from my captor—savior, whatever he was. 

WHOA that is some rapid-onset Stockholm Syndrome. How is this dude your “savior”? You’ve been preparing to be murdered this whole time. What has he done between taking you captive and now that has changed your opinion of your relationship to him so drastically?

I have to admit, I had a great time last night talking with someone who is currently mired down in Maas’s adult fantasy series, which apparently has all of the exact same problems this series has.

“How?” the stranger demanded, his knuckles white as he gripped his muscled arms.

Way to shoehorn that description in; I totally needed to know this guy was ripped based on him doing something that seems visually bizarre to my mind.

Not-Beast tells the other High Fae that a mortal girl killed Andras with an ash arrow and that the “Treaty’s summons” took him to the girl and he gave her safe haven. The reason they know for sure that this girl somehow killed their friend is specifically because of this “summons,” explained thusly:

“The Treaty’s magic brought me right to her doorstep.”

In other words, she fucked up, the magic of the treaty knows this, and he can find her anywhere. Kind of punches a hole in the escape plan, huh, Feyre?

The stranger whirled with fluid grace. His mask was bronze and fashioned after a fox’s features, concealing all but the lower half of his face—along with most of what looked like a wicked, slashing scar from his brow down to his jaw. It didn’t hide the eye that was missing—or the carved golden orb that had replaced it and moved as though he could use it. It fixed on me.

Mad-Eye Moody, but make him hot.

Since you probably didn’t remember this already, Feyre is skinny.

“You’re joking,” he said quietly. “That scrawny thing brought down Andras with a single ash arrow?”

So scrawny. Just so unbelievably scrawny. Just like, imagine the most pathetically thin person you’ve ever seen. You just really, really, really need to be aware that the heroine is skinny.

But won’t eat.

Can we get a yikes yet?

If not for the thinly veiled eating disorder, at least for this?

I could understand his mask, with that brutal scar and missing eye, but the other High Fae seemed fine. 

She totally supports the dude with the missing eye wearing a mask to disguise his hideousness, I guess, but why the hot one? Then, she figures that the beast/guy (Geast?) must wear his mask out of solidarity for his miserably ruined friend.

How noble. I’m falling for him already.

Up until this point, Feyre has been cowering and trying not to be noticed. Then, the fox faerie (Forxie?) refers to her as “that” while berating Geast and suddenly, Feyre remembers that she’s too stupid to live:

I stepped forward—only a step. I wasn’t sure what I was going to say, but being spoken about that way … I kept my mouth shut, but it was enough.

That’s right. After telling us all about how High Fae are killing machines,  she decides to square up against one because he insulted her.

Feyre just decided to square up like she’s a badass, despite being conveniently too afraid to basically do anything other than walk through a door in this chapter.

Fox Fairy accuses Feyre of relishing her kill when she murdered his friend. It’s the intensely cliched moment of, “Did you enjoy killing my friend?” (direct quote from the text) that tends to show up in these scenarios.

And how does Feyre react?

The golden-haired one said nothing, but his jaw tightened. As they studied me, I reached for a knife that wasn’t there.


The character inconsistency here is a mess. I’m sorry, I do not believe this wasn’t a first draft that just got lucky. Seriously, I think this thing landed its deal through marketability alone because it certainly wasn’t the solid craft. I have whiplash from this girl’s characterization. She’s terrified, she’s starving, she’s in mortal danger, she has to be careful and make herself small but also we must believe that she’s such a scrappy little fighter that she’d pull a knife on a High Fae.

Look. She either gets to be tough-as-nails or smart-as-nails. We can’t keep swerving between the two options.

Now, remember the last recap when folks were commenting about how weird it was that she’s so afraid of this Beast dude when he’s not all that scary? Good news! That continues. He scolds Lucien (that’s the Fox Fairy) for being rude to Feyre.

She killed their friend, he showed her mercy. Now, he wants his grieving friend to be cordial to the murderer.

There’s going to be a moment in this book when this fucking Beast reveals that Feyre is some long-lost princess or some shit who was betrothed to Andras and she accidentally killed him or some bullshit, isn’t there? Or like, the Beast is gonna have fallen instantly in love with her because of her bravery or something? Don’t tell me, I don’t want it spoilered. I want to see if I end up being right.

Lucien doesn’t appreciate being scolded, and I get it. I would be pissed if I suddenly met Feyre, too. He mocks her soundly by telling her how beautiful she is an how her hair is like burnished gold, which I wouldn’t roll my eyes at if I didn’t feel almost 100% certain this “mocking” was only included because it says something positive about Feyre, regardless of the situation.

“Her name is Feyre,” said the one in charge—the beast. He must have learned my name at my cottage. Those striking green eyes met mine again and then flicked to the door.

How quickly he went from a potential rape monster to “striking green eyes.”

Because he’s such a terrifying and horrible creature, the Beast summons Alis, a little fairy side character who’s going to help Feyre…get prettied up.

A rotund brown-haired woman in a simple brass bird mask tugged on my arm and inclined her head toward the open door behind us. Her white apron was crisp above her homespun brown dress—a servant. The masks had to be some sort of trend, then.

Right off the bat, I have to address the idea of a “simple” bird mask made out of freaking brass. Ah, the simplicity of wearing a heavy facsimile animal head over your own regular head. I like to do that when I’m lounging around in leggings and a cozy sweater. You know. Just simple.

Now, let’s move on to Mrs. Potts here. Why is there always a kindly fat woman tasked with taking care of heroines? I blame Shakespeare. Always with a fucking nurse character.

Finally, what the fuck does Feyre mean that it “had to be” a trend? What if it’s some deeply held belief? What if it’s protection from magic or some shit like that?

But nope, Feyre knows that it’s just because they’re vapid fashion monsters:

If they cared so much about their clothes, about what even their servants wore, maybe they were shallow and vain enough for me to deceive, despite their master’s warrior clothes.

I still don’t know why she thinks crushed velvet doublets and bejeweled masks and long flowing hair are warrior traits but okay. Let’s just rock with it. The merciful tough guy hunk with the sumptuous garments and, lest we forget, A BEJEWELED MASK, is a killing machine that Feyre was gonna pull a knife on. But the good news is, she’s pretty sure that she’s smarter than this magical, apparently immortal, being.

I say immortal because I just assume. I don’t buy into that, “they can’t be immortal because one died,” bullshit because immortal, to me, means lasting. Not indestructible. So let me head that one off right now. I’ll die on that hill, even for this book.

But yeah, Feyre thinks she’s just going to outsmart them because they’re vain. And shockingly, she doesn’t use this as a chance to slam her sister.

I’d barely made it a few steps before Lucien growled, “That’s the hand the Cauldron thought to deal us? She brought Andras down? We never should have sent him out there—none of them should have been out there. It was a fool’s mission.”

This makes it sound like Andras probably wasn’t that tough. As to the mission, I’m going to assume it was to find Feyre but they just haven’t figured out that they got the right person yet and that’s why she was able to kill the badass fairy.

No spoilers. I love seeing if I can predict this kind of stuff.

“Maybe we should just take a stand—maybe it’s time to say enough. Dump the girl somewhere, kill her, I don’t care—she’s nothing but a burden here. She’d sooner put a knife in your back than talk to you—or any of us.” I kept my breathing calm, my spine locking, and—

It’s not Feyre saying all that. You wouldn’t know it because it’s directly after the dialogue in the paragraph but there was some reference to his growl and him being the one speaking earlier in the paragraph. I still think that requires a break, but whatever. I’m more concerned with the idea that a High Fae thinks Feyre is a threat.

“No,” the other bit out. “Not until we know for certain that there is no other way will we make a move. And as for the girl, she stays. Unharmed. End of discussion. Her life in that hovel was Hell enough.”

Was her life really hell, though? Everyone in her village was struggling. What made her hell unique? What tugged at this dude’s heartstrings, exactly? Because if someone killed my friend, I wouldn’t be like, “Oh, poor thing, your sisters are so mean to you. Come, live in my enchanted castle in a fantasy world where you shall want for nothing.”

But apparently, the Fae are planning something. This is great, because I love when things happen in the books I’m reading. It’s very much preferred over when things don’t happen.

Even though Feyre has told us how tiny and cold and miserable and shitty her home and her life are, she’s like, woe, agony, this guy’s house looks nicer than mine and he’s insulting me, waaaah or whatever. It’s not written that dramatically but it just feels that dramatic because at this point I’m so annoyed.

A hovel—I suppose that’s what our cottage was when compared to this place.

Like, does that not just annoy the fuck out of you, reader? She spent all this time telling us how bleak and horrible their teensy cottage was and now she’s like, well, compared to THIS place, I guess it looks kinda bad. Like, no, no, you made it sound like compared to ANY place, it looks kinda bad.

“Then you’ve got your work cut out for you, old son,” Lucien said. “I’m sure her life will be a fine replacement for Andras’s—maybe she can even train with the others on the border.”

Okay, so the Beast is Lucien’s son? And there are other mortals training at the border?   I’m filing those away in my brain.

There’s a section break, after which we have arrived with Feyre to a fancy bedroom where they pretty her up:

I’ll admit I didn’t fight that hard when Alis and two other servants—also masked—bathed me, cut my hair, and then plucked me until I felt like a chicken being prepared for dinner. For all I knew, I might very well be their next meal.

I’ll let them make me pretty, but I won’t like it! Very much!

Feyre is so terrified of the servants, she doesn’t ask them any questions while they give her this makeover. She’s even afraid of Mrs. Potts, to the point that when Alis gives Feyre a “velvet turquoise dress” (the order of those adjectives makes my head throb, Dear Patron), Feyre begs for her clothes back and “pretends” to be pitiful.

I hadn’t worn a dress in years. I wasn’t about to start, not when escape was my main priority. I wouldn’t be able to move freely in a gown.

Too afraid to ask any questions, super brave enough to hate wearing dresses. Strong Female Character!

We get a description of the bedroom, which Feyre thinks would be tacky if not for the furnishings, which is like…bitch, you scribbled flowers all over your furniture and fucking walls, take a moment away to think about how much you really know about interior decorating.

The gist of this whole scene is that she has been swaddled in silk and riches and maybe she doesn’t have the full scoop on this whole faerie thing.

The few stories I’d heard had been wrong—or five hundred years of separation had muddled them. Yes, I was still prey, still born weak and useless compared to them, but this place was … peaceful. Calm. Unless that was an illusion, too, and the loophole in the Treaty was a lie—a trick to set me at ease before they destroyed me. The High Fae liked to play with their food.

Wow, the stories were so wrong but definitely, they’re still the monsters I thought they were!

She returned with trousers and a tunic that fit me well, both of them rich with color. A bit fancy, but I didn’t complain when I donned the white shirt, nor when I buttoned the dark blue tunic and ran my hands over the scratchy, golden thread embroidered on the lapels. It had to cost a fortune in itself—and it tugged at that useless part of my mind that admired lovely and strange and colorful things.

So, she’s Not Like Other Girls because she wears pants and the usual girls wear skirts. I wanted to point that out because it is very feminist and strong. This is not like other fantasy books where girls are silly and like dresses. She likes pants. So it’s strong. Because it’s pants. She’s got her strong pants on.

I really like the idea of a heroine who loves “lovely and strange and colorful things” but it just seems odd to me that because of this artistic streak, this longing for beauty, she wouldn’t have been one of the first people to sign up for that pretty cult back in the town. This whole chapter would have been so much better if Feyre had found herself drawn to the strangeness and the beauty of this world and had legitimate worries about whether or not she’s being seduced by that beauty or is her life really in danger, etc. instead of just “I should run. But I can’t because it’s hopeless. I’m so afraid and scrappy!”

But no, the inner turmoil we get is that she remembers when her family was rich and now they’re not and they probably are running out of food. Then, it’s back to the makeover, as Alis braids Feyre’s hair.

“You’re hardly more than skin and bones,” she said, her fingers luxurious against my scalp.

Just in case you forgot from the whole thing where she’s been starving, Feyre is really skinny.

“Winter does that to poor mortals,” I said, fighting to keep the sharpness from my tone.

Sharpness. She’s terrified of the bloodthirsty faerie giving her a scalp massage but she’s cool with snarking at her.

Alis agrees with me, by the by. She tells Feyre, hey, nobody is gonna like you because you killed a really great guy. I mean, Alis also basically handwaves Andras’s death like it was his own fault Feyre killed him because obviously, Feyre can’t be responsible for her own actions for any reason. Oh, and Alis doesn’t like Lucien, either.

Then chapter six ends with…Alis finishing Feyre’s hair and opening the door.

Not exactly the hook that would keep me up at night, but let’s rock into chapter seven, shall we?

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  1. Actually, my instant response to that ‘old son’ remark was to recognise it as a fairly common mode of address among certain classes of Englishmen rather than suggesting any kind of family relationship.

    Which made the words jarringly disconcerting for me because they’re completely out of place in a book with the dialogue we’ve had so far.

    September 6, 2023
  2. Andi

    I don’t…..why…..okay I feel like I missed something.

    Why is our Strong Female Protagonist not leading with “hey, didn’t mean to kill your friend, maybe he shouldn’t have been stalking starving young girls in the woods while they hunt. Wasn’t about to either risk my own life and let my family starve, or let an actual wolf steal my kill….and let my family starve.” Fae Beast very clearly saw that she’s impoverished af. This is a line of reasoning that wouldn’t endear her to Murdered Wolf Fae’s friends, but also wouldn’t make her antagonistic for no damn reason.

    September 7, 2023
    • Lena

      It’s really hard to play the victim and be a Girl Boss simultaneously, so we get self-pity and irrational antagonism on a loop instead.

      September 7, 2023
  3. Mikey

    This is nitpicking, but I feel that the phrasing “her fingers luxurious against my scalp” is super awkward. So… her fingers were being luxurious? And they were being luxurious against her scalp? You can do that? You can be luxurious against things?

    This is the kind of thing that sounds good to a writer the first few seconds, but then, when you think it through, doesn’t really make sense. It’s like she couldn’t quite figure out how to say what she wanted to.

    September 7, 2023
    • Dove

      I think it’s also the problem with trying to attach the action to the dialog. All the author needed to do was hit enter/space and then tweak it a little.

      “You’re hardly more than skin and bones,” she said.

      Her fingers felt oddly luxurious against my scalp.

      Like it’s not perfect, since that makes me think more of a massage/combing action rather than a braiding action, but it makes a lot more sense this way.

      September 7, 2023
    • Ilex

      I missed that one. But the bit about how “the[y] plucked me until I felt like a chicken being prepared for dinner” is sticking in my head. They plucked what, exactly? I’m imagining getting pinched all over, because this just doesn’t make any sense.

      September 27, 2023
  4. Dove

    Wow. Ugh. The skinny comments are becoming more and more creepy. Especially since I personally think even the faint hint of ribs is gross on a man or a woman and it creeps me out. It’s almost a humble brag the way they focus on it. She’s not filthy, because we can’t have that, and they don’t care about her rags… so we’re just constantly going “how did you do this again??” And honestly it just makes me wish that wasn’t why she’s here at all; it’d solve so much even if it means we’d never meet the sexy mercenary lady.

    Plus I hate how she’s so hungry but can’t eat. That just seals the horribleness. I’m glad on one hand we don’t get constant pang reminders but on the other I’m so pissed off about the “I need food” but “wait I can’t eat it” and god. Just EAT IT and shut the fuck up! I also regret the lack of imagination for the banquet offerings too. Like maybe she doesn’t know what some of it is either? IDK. This entire story would be helped a lot by being told in the third person.

    Also, they didn’t put her in servant clothes??? WTF?

    But most importantly, I feel you on the whiplash… and admit I think this is kind of a combination struggle. On the one hand, it’s kind of hard to write a character into a bad situation without making them seem too weak or as if they gave up too quickly, especially if the character is very stubborn… BUT the thing is, it’s not a weakness to go with the flow when that benefits you. Technically, she only allowed this when it didn’t benefit Feyre… but did make her pretty which lol pretty gag-worthy trope yet I do kinda enjoy it. They even give her some say in her choice but not full choice which… is weird? But makes sense.

    I get the feeling the author wanted to write this tropes deep with the stereotypical submissive woman who’s so strong gets everything she ever wanted but no it’s what someone else wanted for her but the woman doesn’t have to choose because she actually has no choice so she’ll learn to like it. And yet she knew this character is supposed to be more tomboyish/Not Like Other Girls/More Katniss/Girl Boss/Strong Action Woman so she tried to tweak it where she could. ALSO she wanted umm whatever the fuck his name was, Beastly, to be super dominant and in control but not make him too overbearing because of course he’s actually a great guy the circumstances are just making this hard… and I get that. But it just adds so much to the whiplash and details contradicting themselves because the author keeps trying to have her cake and eat it too.

    And I still hate it here.

    Like, I get it. I’ve run into a similar problem recently…

    I’ll be honest, I’ve always felt weaker at writing fem characters and the fears of being called Mary Sue still haunt me to this day. In spite of being reassured by Coelasquid’s excellent essay on the subject, which I strongly recommend if you have similar fears! It’s a blog post called “Don’t worry guys, everything isn’t a Mary Sue” on the Manly Guys Doing Manly Things webcomic website. In a similar vein, I also recommend Limyaael’s Fantasy Rants which you can find on Livejournal or as I just noticed, someone made a free and organized epub out of! I haven’t read them in ages and never utterly agreed on every point even back then but there are just so many thoughts and I’m so happy to notice there’s a tag for “stubborn but not annoying” apparently lol. I’ll need to read that in the epub a big later.

    The thing is, socialization of women kinda trips things up. They’re basically trained to avoid being strong female protagonist and sadly a lot of those also fall into the very same misogynistic, toxic, patriarchal pitfalls of just being cruel and aggressive and competitive instead of confident and strong and community-focused. Being smart, capable, and protective is just hard to write. It doesn’t seem like it would be but it’s just hard to write about genuine vulnerability especially if you worry about the character seeming too weak or too strong and you need to hit just the right middle ground. That’s the challenge. Technically male characters face this all the time as well HOWEVER they get more leeway for being assholes unless they’re in the Asshole Event Horizon from which they can never escape. Because being seen as “too strong” is still more acceptable than “too weak” whereas for women it’s the opposite BUT with a female protagonist you’re damned if you do that if only because you’re suddenly catering to women and they want power too.

    That’s why we have all this damn whiplash, beyond the “WTF do we actually know about Faeries and why?” She has to constantly act like she’s intelligent and putting on a show about fighting off this… nice, wonderful, mansion she’s been spirited away to and given everything she could ever want. Without actually looking at the true implications of her powerlessness because then there’s the unsettling question of “what if he just rapes her to death?” Like even though she brought it up now she’s juggling trying to avoid that, trying to paint him as never taking advantage of her, and it’s just hard when Feyre is like “I can’t go along with anything” even though she probably should because she really is powerless here. She shouldn’t be able to do anything. But we can’t explicitly point that out because then the whole “is she a slave??” comes up and yeah it gets… so complicated.

    lol literally the only reason she was allowed to be “cleaned up” is because it’s such a common trope the author was like “of course they’ll let me do this! Every girl wants this so it gets a pass.” And uhh… IDK. Meh.

    I realize this an old recap and only evil knows where the hell this is going, other than the obvious guesses which I’m inclined to agree with. Ugh.

    September 7, 2023
  5. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    “At least it was familiar, and not some strange faerie delicacy: chicken, bread, peas, fish, asparagus, lamb … it could have been a feast at any mortal manor. ”

    My mind said, “And then she noticed roasted human legs on the table,” because that’s what I would have written.

    September 7, 2023
    • Dove

      And then “I recoiled in horror but it truly was a feast at any mortal manor.” lol

      September 9, 2023
  6. kristy

    The sad thing is that so much of this could have been fixed so easily with proper editing or beta reading. It’s unbelievable to me that no one pointed out the inconsistencies, like “hey, if she’s going to refuse to eat the food, you probably need to adjust the part where she says she needs food to have the strength to escape,” or “if she’s going to step to the fae nobles (and alleged warriors), she probably shouldn’t be afraid of the servants.” A few tweaks in the text could have fixed that stuff before publishing.

    Feyre’s personality might be a different story, though I have pointed out while beta reading things like “am I supposed to like this character? If so, maybe give them some redeeming qualities?”

    September 8, 2023
  7. Thalassa

    I really, really love your recaps, Jenny.
    But this book is almost not bearable, not even with your glorious comments.
    How is this such a huge success? How!?

    September 9, 2023
  8. ShifterCat

    The convention of wearing masks *could* have been something interesting: take a page (ha) from Death Note and make it so that to curse someone requires not only knowledge of their true name, but also a mental image of that person’s face.

    People would have special, lightweight masks for sleeping, and possibly even for bathing. (Which would also explain some of the stories about goddesses striking people dead for catching a glimpse of them bathing — it’s not about the nudity, it’s about vulnerability!) Peasants might be forbidden from masking. Some noble families might be so formal and/or paranoid that they have never seen their own parents or spouses bare-faced.

    Now there’s an idea for a paranormal romance: the heroine finds out a fae lord’s truename and face, and that’s why he has to keep her close but can’t simply kill her.

    Of course, this would require writing worldbuilding notes, which Maas clearly has no interest in doing.

    September 25, 2023
  9. Kat

    “Of course it would be magic, because it was spring here.”

    Something about the syntax of this line doesn’t scan proper for me. I feel like the ideas need yo be switched. Of course it’s spring in the faerie lands, because they’re magical. The way it’s written I read it as if the magic is because of spring.

    November 1, 2023

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