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.
We just left Feyre on an actually decent chapter hook, so I really did think that we’d come back to a chapter that started out like, “After my scary afternoon ride with Lucien, Alis bathed me again and here is the sumptuous outfit I turned down because I’m not like other girls and then we ate dinner.” But to my surprise, we actually do pick right back up in the action.
The description of the encounter is really tense and well-written, which proves that Maas can actually write. Apparently, it comes and goes, but this part of the book is excellent. What basically happens during the encounter is that Feyre becomes increasingly cold and scared and desperate to look at the thing Lucien said not to look at. It’s a long section without anything to really criticize, so I’m just going to show you the bits and pieces that really stuck out to me as being great imagery/characterization/turn of phrase.
My blood froze as a creeping, leeching cold lurched by.
Even the balmy spring woods seemed to recoil, to wither and freeze.
really set a creepy tone.
I will grind your bones between my claws; I will drink your marrow; I will feast on your flesh. I am what you fear; I am what you dread … Look at me. Look at me.
OH GOD IT’S MY CELL PHONE BILL
Basically, reading this passage is exactly like getting that weird feeling that you should run, the one that strikes the moment you turn off the last light before going to your room at night.
I stared at the coarse trunk of a distant elm, thinking of pleasant things. Like hot bread and full bellies—
I will fill my belly with you. I will devour you. Look at me.
A starry, unclouded night sky, peaceful and glittering and endless. Summer sunrise. A refreshing bath in a forest pool. Meetings with Isaac, losing myself for an hour or two in his body, in our shared breaths.
This is great characterization for Feyre and we should have been seeing more of this way earlier. We’ve gone this entire time with Feyre straight-up telling the reader, “woe is me, I’m poor.” But when we see her happy thoughts here, they’re very simple in a way that tells you there isn’t much joy in her life if the highlights are not being hungry and occasionally hooking up with a guy she’s not that into. This is what we needed throughout to view Feyre as a person and not a high-tech robot designed to whine constantly and demand sympathy from everyone it passes. THIS is what could make Maas a genuine legend as opposed to like, the YA version of George R.R. Martin (he’s a good storyteller but a bad writer fight me), but she doesn’t seem interested in consistently doing it.
Finally, the thing leaves and everything goes back to normal.
Lucien’s russet eye was dark as he answered hoarsely. “No. It was a creature that should not be in these lands. We call it the Bogge. You cannot hunt it, and you cannot kill it. Even with your beloved ash arrows.”
“Why can’t I look at it?”
“Because when you look at it—when you acknowledge it—that’s when it becomes real. That’s when it can kill you.”
A long time ago, even before I ever planned to recap this book, I mentioned to someone that I’d given up on it before and they were like, “Well, she ripped off Harry Potter, anyway.” And I was like, that’s weird, because I thought it was a fairytale or whatever. And they were like, she uses a lot of J.K. Rowling’s world-building,” and I thought, wait, are you confusing her with Cassandra Clare?
The second I read this passage, I knew exactly what this person was talking about. That Maas had somehow copied the boggart from Harry Potter. Which made total sense because this person was 100% Harry Potter obsessed and often felt that other forms of media copied it. But bogge is just one of the many words for the creature from folklore that becomes your worst nightmares. Bogge, Boggart, Bogle, Boogey, Boogey Man, they’re all used to describe the same thing.
And some Harry Potter fans need to read something else. ed.—I have revised this opinion; all Harry Potter fans need to read something else. But in an interesting twist, Maas’s books have become so popular that her fans now accuse other authors of ripping her off, with anything from, “Your book is a noun of noun and noun, you copied SJM!” to “Fairy courts? You know Sarah J. Maas like, invented those, right?”
A shiver spider-walked down my spine.
A description so nice, she’s now used it twice. It’s just way too distinctive to repeat twice in the same book. Or at least, within seven chapters of each other.
This was the Prythian I’d expected—the creatures that made humans speak of them in hushed tones even now. The reason I hadn’t hesitated, not for a heartbeat, when I’d considered the possibility of that wolf being a faerie.
Hey, speaking of that, maybe you should say this out loud to Lucien in an attempt to get him to understand why you killed Andras? Like, maybe you guys could have a conversation that advances the plot a little?
After an hour of meandering through the trees, hardly speaking to each other, I’d stopped trembling enough to turn to him.
“So you’re old,” I said.
Like, at all. Even though you’re trying to win him over to your side and you could have had a single conversation to show him your perspective. But if that happened, the plot might advance in a way the author didn’t plan out on post-its, so it simply cannot happen.
Feyre asks Lucien if he fought in the fairy war or whatever from long ago. And he says:
“Shit, Feyre—I’m not that old.”
That’s right. Lucien the High Fae speaks as if E.L. James wrote him.
Feyre asks if he’s a warrior, but what she’s really trying to find out is whether or not Lucien would actually kill her. Lucien says he’s not as good a warrior as Tamlin is, but he knows how to fight.
“Would you like me to teach you how to wield a blade, or do you already know how, oh mighty mortal huntress? If you took down Andras, you probably don’t need to learn anything. Only where to aim, right?” He tapped on his chest.
Okay, surely now she’s going to point out that she’d been as afraid of Andras as she was of the bogge, right? Because this is the perfect place to–
“I don’t know how to use a sword. I only know how to hunt.”
We’re getting closer though, right? She’s going to bring it up, eventually.
Probably after this:
Lucien fell silent, considering. “I suppose you humans are such hateful cowards that you would have wet yourself, curled up, and waited to die if you’d known beyond a doubt what Andras truly was.”
Surely, this is the lead-in that Feyre needs to make Lucien understand that she’s not a murderer, she was protecting her own life.
“Do you ever stop being such a prick?” I snapped back.
Dead—really, truly, I should have been dead for that.
But Lucien grinned at me. “Much better.”
Alis, it seemed, had not been wrong.
As you may have expected, Feyre does not address or engage the subject of Andras at all. But that’s not what the scene was for. The scene was for Feyre to show what a badass she is and to make it clear that Lucien admires her moxie.
There’s a section break, and Feyre describes her “tentative truce” with Lucien as going away as soon as it’s, say it with me, DINNER TIME!
Tamlin isn’t happy that Feyre has gone off with Lucien:
Tamlin was lounging in his usual seat, a long claw out and circling his goblet. It paused on the lip as soon as I entered, Lucien on my heels. His green eyes pinned me to the spot.
Look, every author accidentally fucks up pronoun referral. But it’s so fucking consistent in this that I might as well be struggling through The Time Traveler’s Wife.
But also? Gotta love a guy who gets menacing when jealous.
Tamlin slowly looked at Lucien, whose face had turned grave. “We went on a hunt,” Lucien said.
“I heard,” Tamlin said roughly, glancing between us as we took our seats. “And did you have fun?” Slowly, his claw sank back into his flesh.
I can’t help but imagine Tamlin moving in slow motion while everyone else is moving at normal speed here.
Tamlin asks if Lucien caught anything, and Feyre thinks Lucien wants her to jump into the conversation but she doesn’t have anything to add. I guess he’s either wanting her to bring up the bogge or keep the conversation rolling so he doesn’t have to mention it? It’s not super clear.
Lucien’s throat bobbed. “The Bogge was in the forest today.”
The fork in Tamlin’s hand folded in on itself. He said with lethal calm, “You ran into it?”
Wasn’t all the stuff on the table made of pure gold? Unless I’m misremembering and the cutlery is all steel or something, bending it is not really that spooky or impressive. But also, I hate that I know there is going to be a love triangle between these characters, yet she’s supposed to be afraid of them to the point that she describes them as lethal.
Metal groaned as Tamlin’s claws punched out, obliterating the fork.
Again, if it’s gold I’m not all that impressed because gold is soft as hell. And speaking of which, if the cutlery was all gold which I’m pretty sure she mentioned, how the fuck is that knife she stole going to protect her?
I’m getting off track. What we really need to figure out is how he’s holding this bent fork that his claws come out of the backs of his knuckles and slice up something in his palm. Did they go through his hands? What is happening here?
He rose to his feet with a powerful, brutal movement. I tried not to tremble at the contained fury, at how his canines seemed to lengthen as he said, “Where in the forest?”
Lucien told him. Tamlin threw a glance in my direction before stalking out of the room and shutting the door behind him with unnerving gentleness.
Lucien told him but the author wasn’t super interested in describing the magic forest in her fairy kingdom. That’s boring. Let’s go to dinner and talk about how much we hate wearing pretty clothes.
Tamlin is going to kill the bogge, which he can do but Lucien can’t.
The gruff High Fae halfheartedly flattering me was capable of killing a thing like the Bogge. And yet he’d served me himself that first night, offered me life rather than death. I’d known he was lethal, that he was a warrior of sorts, but…
Is he lethal? You’ve never described him as lethal. Or a warrior. Thanks for knowing in advance that I have a short-term memory that spans five whole minutes and that I would need to be constantly reminded of shit that’s already been way overstated.
The Stockholm syndrome is so real here. Oh wow, he can murder people but he gave me food whoa, now I see him in a whole different light!
I had no idea how anyone could face that immortal horror, but … it wasn’t my problem.
And just because Lucien wasn’t going to eat anymore didn’t mean I wouldn’t.
This is the first time I have genuinely liked Feyre, I think. I wish she had been this way the whole time. Just minding her business, eating food and giving zero fucks.
But then she goes to her room and starts giving a fuck again.
I sharpened the knife I’d hidden away on a bit of stone I’d taken from the garden. An hour passed—and still Tamlin didn’t return.
What if he doesn’t return, Feyre? Does that mean you’ll be free? Is that like, something you might want to have run through your mind?
Nope, instead, she thinks she’s silly to wait up for his return. She’s about to go to bed when she sees something moving in the garden.
Not Tamlin—but someone lurked by the hedges, facing the house. Looking toward me.
Male, hunched, and—
The breath went out of me as the faerie hobbled closer—just two steps into the light leaking from the house.
Not a faerie, but a man.
Oooh spooky chapter hook! I bet it isn’t some form of faerie tricky or anything totally predictable like that because so far this book has been a thrill-ride of totally unforeseeable twists and turns.