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A Court of Jealousy and Haters: ACOTAR chapter (god help us all) 32 or “The entire plot of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses, performed by a minor character”

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I’m shamelessly plugging my new Fantasy Romance serial in the intro to an unrelated post. Join the new Patreon tier or my Ream page or read it on Kindle Vella.

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.

This chapter is hell on earth. And I can say that because I’m from a world where hell is considered a thing. This thing.

You may recall that at the end of the last recap, I talked about how the next chapter would be a twenty-page long info dump. That’s not an exaggeration. Please grab a bottled water so you can stay hydrated. Stretch, potentially.

Feyre walks around the manor, being a crime scene investigator.

It had been a vicious fight––and from the blood patterns, most of the damage to the house had been done during the fight, not afterward.

Okay, Dexter. I’m sure you can just look around and know exactly what happened.

The crushed glass and footprints came and went from the front and back of the house, as if the whole place had been surrounded. The intruders had needed to force their way in through the front door; they’d just completely shattered the doors to the garden.

This is my design.

(I’ll stop making Hannibal references when NBC comes to its senses, thank you for asking.)

Feyre goes into the dining room.

The giant table was in pieces, […]

The giant table was magically smaller when she left. It’s mentioned in the scene with Rhysand.

I studied the trail across the floor. It had been disturbed, but I could make out two sets––large and side by side––leading from where the table had been. As if Tamlin and Lucien had been sitting in here as the attack happened, and walked out without a fight.

That, dear reader, is how boring this book is. An epic fight scene happened off the page and the main characters still weren’t involved.

Which, by the way, means that all the blood in the house is from other fairies. Which would mean that Tamlin and Lucien abandoned all those innocent servants to be slaughtered.

Feyre is using her previously unmentioned tracking skills and blood spatter analysis techniques to tell the reader what happened in the scene that would have been much more exciting if we’d just seen it. And it had been written by a different author. But then:

Something limped into the room and sniffed. I could only see its back––cloaked in a plain cape, medium height … All it had to do to find me was shut the door.

The figure turns out to be Alis, who I guess smells Feyre’s presence because it’s something Alis can do and we never heard about it before. That tracks.

Alis reminds Feyre that she’s not supposed to be there. Alis also has a limp, but Feyre doesn’t give a shit about the injured person who’s been taking care of her for months. She doesn’t even ask if Alis is okay.

“Is he alive?”

“Yes, but––”

My knees buckled at the onslaught of relief. “And Lucien?”

“Alive as well. But––.”

“Tell me what happened––tell me everything.

She’s clearly trying to but you won’t stop fucking interrupting her.

She didn’t speak as we hurried through the empty, too-quiet halls––all of them wrecked and bloodied, but … no bodies. Either they’d been hauled away, or––I didn’t let myself consider it as we entered the kitchen.

What, you think they’ve been eaten? That’s all I can think of, considering you just walked into the kitchen. Is this some unintentional wink to the camera, Mads?

(I’LL STOP MAKING HANNIBAL REFERENCES WHEN NBC COMES TO ITS SENSES, THANK YOU FOR ASKING.)

The kitchen is all burned up and Alis is here to loot it. I’m just leaving that as a blanket description of her actions throughout the scene because anything she does is just a dialogue tag to break up her monologues of exposition.

“She took him,” she said, and my blood went cold. “She took him to her court Under the Mountain.”

“Who?” But I already knew the answer. 

Then why did you ask, jackass?

Feyre begs Alis to tell her the truth about Amarantha and good news! Alis is apparently the foremost historian/political analyst in Prythian!

“You want the truth, girl? […]

I full expected her to say, “You can’t handle the truth, girl!”

[…] Then here it is: she took him for the curse––because the seven times seven years were over, and he hadn’t shattered her curse. She’s summoned all the High Lords to her court this time––to make then watch her break him.”

Just say forty-nine, for fuck’s sake. Seven times seven, ooooh numbers, spooky numbers. Forty-nine is easily a more terrifying way of putting it than “seven times seven” because what kind of psychopath picks forty-nine instead of just fifty? That shit would keep me up at night. “Why did she choose that number? Fifty was right there? Was it to get in my head?”

“What is she––wh-what curse?”

A g-g-g-ghost!

A curse––the curse she had put on this place. A curse that I had failed to even see.

The poison. The poison for Kuzco. The poison chosen especially to kill Kuzco. Kuzco’s poison.

Also, the c-c-curse you didn’t see? Was the fucking masks. Just because he never said, “I’m cursed,” it’s pretty clear that they were fucking cursed.

“Amarantha is High Queen of this land. The High Queen of Prythian,” […]

The poison. The poison for Kuzco.

“But the seven High Lords rule Prythian––equally. There’s no High Queen.”

You just asked Alis for answers, and you’re going to correct her? Shut your mouth and listen. Nobody wants to hear your bullshit, Feyre.

Alis is like, yeah, no shit?

Actually, she’s like:

“That’s how it used to be––how it’s always been. Until a hundred years ago, when she appeared in these lands as an emissary from Hybern.”

Do you remember there’s a place called Hybern? I didn’t. Because it’s only ever been mentioned in one scene, over a hundred pages ago. The Suriel told Feyre about the king in Hybern, and after that, it’s never mentioned again. Any time the Suriel is brought up, it’s about what it told her about Tamlin and that’s it. We never get any reminder about Hybern until right now, when Feyre acknowledges that the Suriel told her about it and summarizes everything she knows about the king.

Alis explains (to Feyre and to the reader) that Amarantha showed up out of nowhere and was like, yeah, Hybern is really sorry for all the shit we did in the war, let’s talk about trade and let me dazzle you with my beauty. She proposes trade between Hybern and Prythian.

And then Alis gives like, interminably long backstory on Amarantha, who’s apparently a legend. She fought in the war against humans and she had a younger sister named Clythia who was also a fighter but who gave it up because she fell in love with a human. Amarantha knew that the human was just using her sister, but Amarantha wouldn’t kill him because it would cause Clythia pain.

Which really backfires when the human crucifies Clythia and cuts her to pieces while she’s still alive.

So, now Amarantha just fucking hates humans.

Hey…is that backstory for why the villain is totally justified in enslaving and brutalizing people? ed.—It’s also part of what makes this book not High Fantasy; the villains in High Fantasy stories are just evil. High Fantasy villains don’t have relatable qualities, and the evil and corruption of the villains are motivated by a lust for power. “Avenging a brutally murdered loved one” is a relatable motivation, even if that motivation turned the villain evil. Maybe if people didn’t shit on every other fantasy subgenre, correctly categorizing this book wouldn’t be such a controversial thing.

Anyway, for fifty years she’s sneaking people from Hybern into Prythian on trade ships. She did this without the king of Hybern knowing.

What’s the motivation?

“[…]But we all soon learned that, in those fifty years she was here, she had decided she wanted Prythian for her own, to begin amassing power and use our lands as a launching point to one day destroy your world once and for all, with or without her king’s blessing. So, forty-nine years ago, she struck.

Now, at this point, nobody knows Amarantha is evil, right? So, she throws this big ball and invites all the High Lords (including Tamlin), and puts a potion in the wine that’s served. They end up paralyzed, it’s like the Red Wedding but without so much moving around.

“[…]Once they drank, the High Lords were prone, their magic laid bare––and she stole their powers from where they originated inside their bodies––[…]

I choose to believe Alis means, “out their butts.”

Hey, do you notice how often I’m having to […] here? It’s because we got over a full page of just Alis talking in block paragraphs, telling the whole backstory of the entire Prythian deal to the main character OVER HALFWAY INTO THE FUCKING STORY.

At least I don’t have to do math anymore:

“[…] For forty-nine years, we have been her slaves. For forty-nine years, she has been biding her time, waiting for the right moment to break the Treaty and take your lands––and all human territories beyond it.”

So, the idea is that Amarantha snuck her guys in, stole the High Lord’s magics, conquered Prythian, and now she’s like, ah, I will bide my time before attacking.

I’m still so confused about the Treaty. The very existence of the Treaty suggests that the High Lords reached a point where the cost of war outweighed the benefit of victory, right? We’ve heard about how they’re so dangerous and tear through humans like tissue paper, but humans must have been strong enough that fighting against them was no longer feasible and an agreement had to be reached to end the war, right?

So, Amarantha is going to somehow continue to keep Prythian under her control while also invading and conquering a people Prythian didn’t manage to put down before, and she’s going to do this all on her own without backing from either Prythian or Hybern? I mean…I guess.

 And then there’s this absolute bombshell:

“But … the sickness in the lands … Tamlin said that the blight took their power––”

She is the sickness in these lands,” Alis snapped, lowering her hands and entering the pantry. “There is no blight but her. The borders were collapsing because she laid them to rubble. She found it amusing to send her creatures to attack our lands, to test whatever strength Tamlin had left.”

So…Tamlin made up the blight. The whole thing. Feyre has been worried about this made-up sickness the whole time and Tamlin knew it didn’t exist. And later on, we’ll find out that he was mystically bound from telling her about the curse Amarantha put on him, but let’s wait to pick that apart when we get to it.

“You could have been the one to stop her.” Her eyes were hard upon me, and she bared her teeth. They were alarmingly sharp. She shoved the turnips and beets into the bag.  “You could have been the one to free him and his power, had you not been so blind to your own heart. Humans,” she spat.

“I––I …” I lifted my hands, exposing my palms to her. “I didn’t know.”

“You couldn’t know,” Alis said bitterly, her laugh harsh as she entered the pantry again. “It was part of Tamlin’s curse.”

That’s two people now to blame Feyre for not seeing through the lie they were all in on.

Alis launches into this whole thing about how Tamlin and Amarantha knew each other since they were children.

“Amarantha eventually grew to desire Tamlin––to lust for him with her entire wicked heart. But he’d heard the stories from others about the War, and knew what Amarantha and his father and the Hybern king had done to faeries and humans alike. What she did to Jurian as punishment for her sister’s death. He was wary of her when she came her, despite her attempts to lure him into her bed––and kept his distance, right up until she stole his powers. Lucien … Lucien was sent to her as Tamlin’s emissary, to try to treat for peace between them.”

Isn’t it awesome how Alis just knows all this shit about her boss and his personal life and how he feels about politics and stuff? It’s great that this information is so easily accessible to everyone in Prythian.

Kinda makes one wonder why Feyre never ran into any of this totally common knowledge, despite allegedly having worked so very hard to get answers.

But the important thing to remember here is that Amarantha is motivated by revenge and wanting Feyre’s man. Barf.

Anyway, Lucien went to Amarantha and told her off on Tamlin’s behalf, and that’s how Lucien lost his eye and got his face carved up so bad, Tamlin barfed when he saw what happened.

“After that, she hosted a masquerade Under the Mountain for herself. All the courts were present. A party, she said––to make amends for what she’d done to Lucien, and a masquerade so he didn’t have to reveal the horrible scarring on his face. The entire Spring Court was to attend, even the servants, and to wear masks––to honor Tamlin’s shape-shifting powers, she said. He was willing to try to end the conflict without slaughter, and he agreed to go––to bring all of us.”

The last time she had a “party” she stole the entire fucking kingdom. Like, just drugged everybody and stole their power and seized the entire realm. Then, she carved up Lucien’s face. And Tamlin is just like, “Okay, I’m sure that this time she’ll be nice.”

And the unnecessary em dashes are a weight upon my very soul. None of those were necessary. “A party, she said, to make amends for what she’d done to Lucien […]” Oh look, that one was so easy to eliminate. “[…]and to wear masks to honor Tamlin’s shape-shifting powers, she said.” Wow, they’re dropping like flies here! “[…]and he agreed to go and to bring all of us.” Did I just use a conjunction in a place where a conjunction was warranted and an em dash was superfluous? IT’S MAGIC, YOUS ALL!

“When all were assembled, she claimed that peace could be had––if Tamlin joined her as her lover and consort. […]”

It’s not enough for Amarantha to be evil and all-powerful. She has to be evil and all-powerful and want to fuck Tamlin because that, dear reader, makes her a real villain. Her vagina hungers and she’s going to interfere with the central love story about it.

Tamlin rejected Amarantha, though, telling her he’d rather fuck a human than her, and given how she feels about humans, that wasn’t the smart way to go. Hence, everyone gets cursed to wear their masks and stuff. Why masks?

I’m sure we’ll find out by the end of the chapter, right?

Amarantha decides that instead of punishing Tamlin outright, she’s gonna curse him. He has “seven times seven” years to break the curse or he has to become her lover.

“[…]If he wanted to break her curse, he need only find a human girl willing to marry him. But not any girl––a human with ice in her heart, with hatred for our kind. A human girl willing to kill a faerie.[…]”

Okay. I kind of get this. Her sister was killed by a heartless, cruel human, Tamlin just threw that in her face, I get Amarantha’s angle here. Except for the part where it has to be a human who hates faeries because it sounds (from our limited experience with Amarantha, which is just like, this chapter of Alis talking to Feyre) like Amarantha thinks all humans are that way. But whatever.

There are more conditions:

“Worse, the faerie she killed had to be one of his men, sent across the wall by him like lambs to slaughter. The girl could only be brought here to be courted if she killed one of his men in an unprovoked attacked––killed him for hatred alone, just as Jurian had done to Clythia … So he could understand her sister’s pain.”

Now, this is starting to get a little complicated. If Amarantha wanted to cause Tamlin this kind of pain, why not just kill Lucien outright? Why not slaughter the entire Spring Court except for Tamlin? That’s what I would have done.

Yeah, I’m a monster. I’m comfortable with that.

But what about the treaty that prevented humans from killing faeries?

“That was all a lie. There was no provision for that in the Treaty. You can kill as many innocent faeries as you want and never suffer the consequences. […]”

WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT OF THE FUCKING TREATY?! WHY DID THE FAERIES SIGN THE TREATY IF THE TWO WARRING SIDES KILLING EACH OTHER DIDN’T HAVE TO STOP? WHAT IS THIS BOOK? WHERE AM I? I SMELL HOT PENNIES.

When Tamlin said that Andras was out looking for a cure for the blight, what he meant was that Andras had been out looking to get murdered so the curse on the Spring Court would be broken.

You know, the curse that makes everybody wear masks for some reason?

We get to that reason after Alis repeats the entire curse like she didn’t just tell Feyre about it: humans hate faeries, they have to find a girl who would kill one in cold blood, she would have to say she loved Tamlin before the forty-nine years were over, etc.

No, seriously. In a chapter that is twenty pages long and just one character telling the entire backstory of the plot in these huge block paragraphs, Maas thought, you know, I’m being too subtle. Better just real quick recap.

Finally, she gets to the part about the masks:

“[…]Amarantha knows humans are preoccupied with beauty, and thus bound the masks to all our faces, to his face, so it would be more difficult to find a girl willing to look beyond the mask, beyond his faerie nature, and to the soul beneath. […]”

I call what is perhaps the most bullshit anyone has ever called since the beginning of time. Bullshit, I say! And shall say it until the very end of my days.

She wants to make Tamlin ugly to a human, so she lets him stay super hot and built, but GASP, he has to wear an exquisitely beautiful, bejeweled mask on part of his face. Yes, how one would recoil from such a horror.

This is like in The Phantom of the Opera where Gerry Butler is supposed to be hideously ugly but he takes off the mask and he’s just got like, alopecia and pink eye and the rest of him is still Gerry Butler. And I know, I know deeply that I make that reference a lot but that’s just because (extremely Sally Fields at the end of Steel Magnolias voice) I wanna know why!

What’s the point of Tamlin being able to turn into a beast, by the way? What’s the point of him being able to shape-shift? We’ve seen him use it one time. 

Why write a “Beauty and the Beast” retelling if you don’t like the part where he’s made into a beast? Maas is like, you know what the problem with every single retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” is? The Beast part. What if we made him beautiful and fancy?”

AUUUUUUGH THIS BOOK IS SO FUCKING BAD WHY DOES IT EXIST?!

Honestly, yous all, I might hate this one more than Fifty Shades of Grey, because even though the plot of Fifty was super basic, at least it made some kind of narrative sense.

“[…] Then she bound us so we couldn’t say a word about the curse. Not a single word.[…]”

FALSE! FALSE FALSE FALSE! Page motherfucking seventy-god-damn-two! Tamlin says:

“[…] These masks”––he tapped on his––”are the result of a surge of it that occurred during a masquerade forty-nine years ago. Even now, we can’t remove them.”

He can’t say a single word about the curse, but he can tell Feyre about the masks, where everybody was when they got the masks stuck on their faces, and exactly how long ago it was.

Oh, but I guess since he didn’t say, “It’s because of a curse,” then it somehow doesn’t count? As being a “single word?”

I HAAAAAAAATE IT. I HAAAAAAAATE IT.

Here’s my theory about the dumbass mask part of the curse, okay? Tamlin did this:

“When she first cursed him, Tamlin sent one of his men across the wall every day. To the woods, to farms, all disguised as wolves to make it more likely for one of your kind to want to kill them. […]”

Now, if Tamlin were doing that because he was trying to save his own ass, that would be unacceptable, right? If the curse was just, “You better have a human fall in love with you or you have to fuck me, but if you break the curse, you get your power back,” then it would be unconscionable for Tamlin to sacrifice so many lives to fix his own problem, right? Alis says that he does this for two years, so assuming their years are 365 days, that’s roughly seven hundred fairies he sent to die.

But if he did that to save everyone from their mask fate…

The mask part of the curse is there only so Tamlin doesn’t look like a selfish monster as he tries to navigate Maas’s needlessly complicated curse.

You know, one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned about painting is that you have to know when enough is enough. You have to stop when you get to the point where you can trust the piece to be what you meant it to be. You can ruin a totally fine painting by trying to make it “more” for no reason.

Oh, hey, congrats to us, though, for reading a chapter where Feyre doesn’t mention painting. I guess I just took a little of the shine off that moment, huh?

But back to the point, that’s what Maas did with this curse plot. Amarantha could have just been like, “Oh, you’d rather fuck a human? Fine, go do that,” and make the curse happen. But Maas went, huh, you know what we need? Like, so many more conditions, to the point that the reader must pretend a bejeweled mask on a godly-hot man would be some kind of obstacle to love. And masks on everybody else so he doesn’t look selfish when he’s sending almost his entire court (“all but a dozen” according to Alis) out to die.

Maas reminds me of Stephen Moffat. That’s not a compliment. They’re both guilty of going for big twists and reveals and not caring how they get to them or if they make sense at all, just so long as there are a ton of needless elements packed into them. They’re both tragically stricken with the misconception that “complicated” automatically equals “good.”

Obviously, this is the end of the chapter, right?

HA HA HA HA HA, no, at this point there are SIX MORE PAGES OF ALIS EXPLAINING THINGS.

I’ve been summing up A LOT and I’m going to keep operating that way so we’re not still hashing out this chapter come December. The other High Lords have fought back against Amarantha and gotten murdered, the faeries tried to use the Children of the Blessed to take messages to other faerie kingdoms and got them all killed, and anyone who crosses Amarantha gets imprisoned Under the Mountain.

Then, we hear about Alis hiding her nephews and working for Tamlin for protection and whoops, she made that deal just a few days before the mask curse so fuck her life, I guess. 

Eventually, Tamlin got to the point where he was like, okay, the clock is running down, I’m out of ideas, let’s send dudes over the wall again, and bam, Feyre kills Andras.

But I had failed them. And in doing so, I’d damned them all.

I had damned each and every person on this estate, damned Prythian itself.

I didn’t realize you could have messiah complex and martyr complex at the same time.

“You could have broken it,” Alis snarled, those sharp teeth mere inches from my face. “All you had to do was say that you loved him––say that you loved him and mean it with your whole useless human heart, and his power would have been freed. You stupid, stupid girl.”

I agree with your assessment of Feyre, Alis, but why are we having to read almost identical dialogue as before?

Because I’m in hell. That’s the answer. It’s because I’m in hell.

I’m not sure why everyone is still blaming Feyre for not falling in love enough with her kidnapper. This is the weirdest fucking book and all the people in it are weird.

Feyre asks, hey, uh, what’s up with the king in Hybern while all this is happening? Because you said Amarantha did this all without him knowing and she stole his spells and junk?

Well, this is one thing Alis doesn’t know, so it gets waved away:

“If they’re on bad terms, he has made no move to punish her. For forty-nine years now, she’s held these lands in her grip. […]”

Yeah, guess he doesn’t care, please, have another repetition of information I’ve relayed probably five times already. This chapter isn’t long enough, it needs to be padded out. ed.—Maas gets way too much credit for her intricately woven plots that are so clearly, painstakingly mapped out from page one of the very first book but which somehow, for some reason, always read like she’s making shit up on the fly. The King in Hybern is clearly just tossed in there because she knows she’s writing a series and will need a villain later.

 “[…] But we know––we know she’s building her army, biding her time before launching an attack on your world, armed with the most lethal and vicious faeries in Prythian and Hybern.”

Wait. Feyre asked Alis how the king in Hybern feels about all this, and Alis doesn’t know, but she does know that Hybern’s forces are going to be used against the humans?

“In the human territory,” I said, “rumor claims more and more faeries have been sneaking over the wall to attack humans. And if no faeries can cross the wall without her permission, then that has to be mean she’s been sanctioning those attacks.”

I beg of you, dear patron, if you have a copy of this book, can you look through this chapter and find the part where it said Amarantha controls who does and doesn’t cross the wall? I’ve looked as much as I’m going to look. Because here’s the thing: if she does control who crosses the wall, why bother to allow Tamlin and his men to cross at all?

“Because of the curse” is not a good enough answer, Sarah.

Feyre has these long, overwrought thoughts about how much Tamlin loved her that he would throw away everything and make all the lives sacrificed meaningless, that he would be willing to damn Prythian for eternity, etc. just for lil’ ole her. She decides she’s got to go Under the Mountain to rescue him.

Of course, Alis is like, you’re gonna die, and Feyre is like, I don’t care, how do I get there, and they repeat the exchange in a few different variations because, again, this isn’t long enough, and we get some ableism!

Amarantha must also have taken Lucien––she had carved out Lucien’s eye and scarred him like that. Did his mother grieve for him?

You thought we were going to go a whole chapter without some disgusting ableist bullshit. Oh no, he’s SCARRED and his EYE is gone, his mom must be crying like he’s FUCKING DEAD because SCARRED is the WORST thing a person can be!

Also, super grateful for the reminder that Amarantha cut out Lucien’s eye. The big reveal was only two pages ago. I mean, probably most of us had figured out that she did that to him already, but it’s nice to be force-fed the same information over and over again like my brain is one of those geese with the fatty livers.

“You were too blind to see Tamlin’s curse,” Alis continued.

Yes, how could Feyre have not seen plainly that Tamlin was cursed to fall in love with a mortal, but not just any mortal, a mortal that killed a faery, and not just killed a faery in self-defense, a mortal who killed a faery for no reason, and that he wasn’t allowed to tell her any of that? It’s so simple and obvious! Anyone should have gotten that from context clues that weren’t provided at all!

Amarantha had taken everything I wanted, everything I finally dared desire.

Of course, she did. She’s the evil bitch who wants to fuck your boyfriend. Were you expecting some other kind of villain in this groundbreaking work of outrageous genius? ed.—Saruman. The White Witch. The Dark One. None of them were motivated by the desire to fuck the hero’s boyfriend.

Alis offers to take Feyre back to the wall so she can go home, because there’s no way of saving Tamlin now. I’m sure there is, and I’m sure Maas felt sooooo clever when she pulled the solution out of her ass while writing it. But Feyre tells Alis, no, she’s going Under the Mountain.

If Amarantha ripped out my throat, at least I would die doing something for him––at least I would die trying to fix the destruction I hadn’t prevented, trying to save the people I’d doomed. At least Tamlin would know it was for him, and that I loved him.

Now, Feyre could go back to the human realm and tell them what’s going on in Prythian. She could warn everybody, she could tell the Children of the Blessed, hey, this bad thing is happening, don’t go there. She could raise the alarm and people could prepare for the coming war without being blindsided by an attack out of nowhere.

But she’s gotta go die for love.

Alis is like, okay, and the chapter ends.

Please see the Jealous Patron’s Book Club Book Club post for more of my undiluted rage. Because I just…

This is so impossibly bad.

ed.—I am including the Jealous Patrons Book Club Book Club post here, because I’m still absolutely livid about this chapter. How this book has been included on “best of all time” fantasy novel lists is so fucking beyond me.

Not every single genre can be written with the same conventions. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but I truly, deeply believe that epic fantasy cannot be written from a single, first-person POV. This chapter is why. It always ends up with one character getting a history lesson from another character, in dialogue. It always ends up with long scenes of clunky exposition in dialogue.

Imagine you’re reading Game of Thrones. And the whole book is told from Ned Stark’s first-person POV. We never see anything else in the entire book, just Ned Stark going off to King’s Landing to serve his BFF the king, getting into some trouble there, finding out the queen and her brother are banging from pouring over birth records, then telling her what’s up and getting his head cut off. That’s all Ned Stark really does in that book. Somehow, Martin would have had to get first-person POV Ned Stark the information about the Others from the Wall somehow to reveal that plot point to the reader. I guess Ned could have read a letter from Castle Black about the fact that the dead are rising. We wouldn’t really need to see the part where it actually happens. The entire sequence at the Eyrie? Instead of reading that, we’d have just gotten a scene where someone tells Ned Stark about what happened. And Jeoffry’s cruelty? That would have been entirely off the page in that first book, until the execution scene when he would have gone from a random wimpy character who got bit by a dog to a total sadist in one scene with no explanation.

Wow. Gripping.

Now, imagine if A Court of Thorns and Roses had shown us more than Feyre’s limited perspective. What if we’d been privy to things happening to Tamlin and Lucien when they’re off in the woods? What if we’d been privy to their thoughts, and we could have seen Tamlin’s desperation to break his curse, the clock ticking down, him just hoping she’d say she loved him before time ran out, and then she doesn’t. Even at that last moment, as he’s letting her go, from his perspective… 

In a book with multiple POVs, the scenes can be depicted from the mind of the character who has the most to lose. Imagine the pathos of that sex scene in Tamlin’s head.

Imagine NOT READING A WHOLE CHAPTER WHERE ONE CHARACTER JUST MONOLOGUES ABOUT THE PLOT.

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51 Comments

  1. kristy
    kristy

    What I don’t get is why Feyre doesn’t feel completely used in this scenario. Not only was she apparently supposed to fall in love with her kidnapper AND figure all this shit out from the vague clues that were available, but she also doesn’t seem to be wondering whether Tamlin actually gives a shit about her or was just pretending in order to to get her to fall in love with him and break the curse. (Or maybe I missed the part where he had to be in love with her too? Did she just have to tell him she loved him?) Yeah, yeah, he sent her away in the end, but I’d be second-guessing every single thing he ever did for me that was nice.

    November 3, 2023
    |Reply
    • Mab
      Mab

      I’m sure she just “knows in her heart” he loves her too because twu luv!!!!!!

      But that is a really good point. Was she pissed after hearing all this info? That the whole thing was a trick? Or has her lady boner just completely blinded her to everything she was just told beyond “the hot evil lady wanted your guy too, but he chose you because you’re “not like other girls””.

      It’s also very stupid that she has to literally say the worlds “I love you” to break the curse or whatever. It is painfully clear from all her annoying childish inner monolog that she loves him. But she didn’t say it so, doesn’t count.

      November 3, 2023
      |Reply
      • kristy
        kristy

        I’d be pissed that everyone thinks this is all my fault because I’m too stupid for not figuring this out when they’ve had 49 years to think about it.

        November 3, 2023
        |Reply
      • Tina
        Tina

        “It’s also very stupid that she has to literally say the worlds “I love you” to break the curse or whatever. It is painfully clear from all her annoying childish inner monolog that she loves him. But she didn’t say it so, doesn’t count.”

        That actually annoys me to this day when watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, too.

        November 3, 2023
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      She should feel that way and be worried but she rationalizes because he sent her away to keep her alive, that means he actually loves her. And well, kinda makes sense but yeah, so stupid she has to verbalize it to save him. UGH. IDK I stopped caring. This is nothing but endless suffering. It’s all an excuse for Feyre to feel bad about herself again and then be a strong female protagonist because that’s not toxic as hell. Blech!

      November 3, 2023
      |Reply
  2. Mab
    Mab

    That was… a lot – a lot of nothing – nothing created by a child writing a fanfic to explain all the many plotholes – plotholes left behind by a writer who is a) a hack, b) doesn’t give a shit, c) made some kind of deal with the devil, d) all of the above.

    Why did Amevila even need a backstory? And why did it have to be the most confusing backstory ever written? Am I right in interpreting that she hates humans for killing her sister so she’s attacking… the other groups of fairies and then, 49 years later she might get around to attacking the humans? The everloving fuck?

    Why not:
    – the mask punishment because the Spring Court is full of vain fairies who think they look the most beautiful out of all, so covering their faces would hurt their ability to gaze longingly at themselves
    – the blight or whatever it is that is zapping their powers except when they need to use those powers to benefit Fayray should have been a result of Amevila or her sister if Maas is hung up on sisters for some reason) being harmed by the Spring Court playing some kind of magical prank.

    I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t get why Maas had to write it so that Amevila has a vendetta against humans but attacked fairies instead of just attacking the humans. Maybe it was made clear and my brain in a desperate attempt for survival blocked out everything I just read like 3 minutes ago, but it just all seems so convoluted.

    Just make it that Amevila is power hungry, or she wants to be the most powerful overruler of all creation. But I guess for Maas nothing matters unless humans are involved.

    I would have liked the twist that everything that happened was because Tamtam was trying to break the curse and he never really loved Fayray if I actually cared about any of it. Instead it just feels like Maas trying to rectcon some reason why Tam didn’t just kill the idiot in the first chapter.

    November 3, 2023
    |Reply
    • kristy
      kristy

      And why were they so pissed that she killed Andras if that was basically the goal? Go over the wall, get a human girl to kill you, Tamlin takes her and makes her fall for him, curse broken? Why all the “we’re mad you killed our friend” drama? (Other than that this book sucks?)

      November 3, 2023
      |Reply
      • Lena
        Lena

        Were they really that mad, though? Lucien was very mildly pissy with her for a sentence or two before being won over by her incredible wit and charm, but no one ever seemed to be experiencing any of the effects of losing a loved one.

        November 3, 2023
        |Reply
        • kristy
          kristy

          IDK, I just feel like if my goal was to get her to fall in love with me, I’d have approached it differently. But I’m not Tamlin, who is apparently a complete idiot.

          November 3, 2023
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            lol he really is a complete idiot. ALL that he had to do was say “I’ll take care of your vow to dead mom if you come live with me” and make that a tough decision for Feyre but she ultimately agrees to it and BOOM solved.

            November 3, 2023
      • someone from tumblr
        someone from tumblr

        Wait did Lucien stage the whole thing with the Suriel then? Like he told her he wouldn’t lie and then the Surrl totally lied. That’s why he was so easy to catch.

        November 11, 2023
        |Reply
        • Al
          Al

          That’s so much cleverer than Maas was, alas :,(

          November 15, 2023
          |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      It’s not just you. Maas made it confusing even to fans of the damn book series lol. I stumbled on a reddit post and a tumblr post of some of them discussing it a few chapters ago. Even they criticize this as not making much sense but try to rationalize it as her just getting complacent.

      It’s kinda just hand-waving because it’s what Maas wanted to do and nothing else IMHO. She worked backwards but didn’t really make it make sense. I may have blocked a bunch of shit out for my own sanity too though.

      The kicker is Amarantha could be an interesting villain with a good author. Instead she’s just random barf.

      November 3, 2023
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        er to clarify one person mentioned Amarantha getting complacent but I’d argue Maas got more complacent hahaha!

        November 3, 2023
        |Reply
        • Mab
          Mab

          I’m pretty sure Maas started out complacent. Could she get more complacent? Is she deplacent at this point? Unplacent? antiplacent? Oh, I know the word I’m searching for. It’s hack. That’s what she is, a hack who somehow got very lucky and tapped into some mass desperation for bad fairy fic.

          November 3, 2023
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Oh that’s why I said more complacent. She started there and then completely gave up at some point which is why this is such a trash fire of a novel.

            I don’t really like the word hack but I think in this context it’s entirely valid and earned by Maas. I don’t believe the vast majority of people who love this book wanted bad fairy fic but there just isn’t a lot of it.

            It’s like me and my love for unicorns. There are SO few fantasy books beyond a certain age that even include them so I took what I could get when I was younger. And I love The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle so much because I ATE SO WELL reading that (first found it via the lovely mostly excellent animated movie) and I don’t think anything else comes close.

            If there IS anything out there about as good as that, someone tell me about it!

            November 3, 2023
          • Dove
            Dove

            Forgot to add, I have read the short story sequel Beagle wrote but it’s not the same, and I’m aware of the last book in the Narnia series which is meh and I’m sure I did read. I also read the Black Unicorn and I think the Golden Unicorn(?? too lazy to check) and surely there have been books since then but I kinda stopped reading most books because I have trouble focusing on them sadly. Might be ADHD or something else (I’m undiagnosed for something for sure.)

            November 3, 2023
          • Necrogem
            Necrogem

            Sorry I’m replying to you to reply to Dove, but I read and loved the Black and Gold Unicorn books as a preteen, so I felt the need to mention there’s just one more book, The Red Unicorn, which wraps up the loose ends from the previous two books and gives Tanaquil a happy ending. I’d say it’s worth a read, if you can manage to overcome your focus issues, Dove.

            November 4, 2023
          • Dove
            Dove

            Haha sorry also replying to you to reply to Necrogem.

            Thank you! I’ll have to look into The Red Unicorn then. I’d probably need to reread the Black and Gold to remind me of her story arc but they’re short books so fingers crossed. 😀

            November 5, 2023
        • Hek
          Hek

          I had the same childhood obsession with unicorns (as well as horses, though it was a particular point of contention for me that UNICORNS ARE NOT JUST HORNED HORSES precisely The Last Unicorn had a formative influence on me as well), and grades three through five I checked out every book at the school library that had one on the cover

          Which led to me starting the Narnia series with The Last Battle, but :’)

          December 22, 2023
          |Reply
  3. Mab
    Mab

    My past two posts have just made me realize how bitter this book is making me.

    Jenny, I can’t even fathom the depths of how bitter it must have made you actually having to read this shit.

    November 3, 2023
    |Reply
  4. Tina
    Tina

    So, to break the curse, Feyre has to kill a fairy just because of hate. But… I might me wrong because this book is f**ing with my brain but I thought she killed the wolf because it was about to eat her deer and she was so hungry?

    I have reached the point where I’m just howling my way through these recaps, not even trying to make sense of it. What is wrong with people that so many love this book?!

    November 3, 2023
    |Reply
    • kristy
      kristy

      A wolf that she *didn’t even know* was a fairy. She might have suspected, but she risked it because the alternative was starvation. Yeah, that’s some intense hatred.

      I feel like a lot of fantasy, especially romantic fantasy, doesn’t make any sense. I beta-read one once in which the heroine gets kidnapped at the beginning doing something very important to her and her friends’ survival, then later glamours herself invisible. My comment was, “if she can glamour herself invisible, then why the hell didn’t she just do that in the first place and *not risk getting kidnapped*?” Don’t know if the author fixed it before she published it…

      November 3, 2023
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        haha it’s tough when magic can negate a lot of plot points. Hopefully they fixed it. I think this is just a common oversight when it comes to fantasy settings. Romance just kinda is because people get vibe ideas in their head and later don’t wanna rework it to make sense because the situation as it was is what got them excited. That’s my theory. It’s also the case that what makes sense and what gets us off are sometimes not as compatible as we’d like to think but we don’t usually examine the cognitive dissonance and to do so unfortunately can say things about ourselves and our world that we’re not ready to hear.

        November 3, 2023
        |Reply
    • bewalsh7
      bewalsh7

      “I thought she killed the wolf because it was about to eat her deer and she was so hungry?”

      Thank you! Why was that stressed so much when she was actually killing the wolf/fairy, but later on when they kept saying that she killed Andreas because she’s a fairy hater, Feyre just goes along with it? It’s like everyone else convinced her that she did kill out of hate, so that’s been lazily retconned into what happened.

      But that’s not what Feyre was thinking when it was actually happening. She was in fact worried that the wolf was really a fairy. Granted, I haven’t read the book, but at least from the recaps, she never thought “Ha! This wolf is really a fairy! I hate these guys so much, I’m gonna kill it! The only good fairy is a dead fairy!”

      If she isn’t an unreliable narrator, I don’t know who is.

      November 3, 2023
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Actually she DID have those thoughts kinda sprinkled throughout the killing, the Merc conversation, and other later conversations but it was like a light seasoning. It’s not part of the repetition but I remembered it because her hating faeries is one of the reasons Jenny cites for her not being invited to the Calan Mai as a good thing.

        Feyre doesn’t feel regret for Andras because he’s a fairy, not because she didn’t know, and it’s sometime around when Wingless Wonder dies that she comes to terms with it and has an honest conversation with Tamlin about it. But yes, it’s stupid as hell and I only remember it because I was thinking how awkward that is, you have a LOT to overcome by making your protag hate the faeries, and it’s legit out of nowhere even when she thinks about it. Like I would agree but I was seriously so confused why she hated the fae so much that I remembered it and I’m not invested enough to go back and find proof but I’m pretty sure I didn’t make that up. It made zero sense so I’m pretty sure I didn’t make it up. lol

        It also added to my confusion why she thought Lucien would be more friendly when he seems the most pissed off about Andras dying, more so than Tamlin. IDK.

        Main point is the whole thing with Andras is garbage no matter what you do with it and this wasn’t the story for that even with this supposed manipulation revelation which could make sense of it but doesn’t help it along in any capacity.

        November 3, 2023
        |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        To clarify, I’m agreeing with most of these points but the faerie hate is something Maas actually did go back in to include and it’s not just others telling her that she hates them, it’s bullshit added in because she did minor revisions or she had the idea to begin with but was incredibly bad at handling it and foreshadowing it in any way as a proper “twist” or whatever. And if someone else proves me wrong, so be it. I can’t recall a lot of this shit other than what enraged me lol and won’t be hunting down excerpts I’m correct because I don’t actually give a fuck. ;p

        November 3, 2023
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Some good news, I found out Amarantha is confusing to at least some actual fans of the series who think other later villains are better written lol. I ran into some comments/blog posts of peeps who commented about her while I was googling and checking if Clare might’ve been a nod to anyone (possibly Cassandra Clare was my thought process but I got distracted and kinda forgot that was my goal.) I felt surprised to see actual fans discussing it as fans so often do, trying to interpret this thing they’ve enjoyed. I think the people who love it probably love it for all the missed potential and just kinda accept it in spite of its flaws which is valid but I honestly wish they got the book series they deserved instead of this tripe.

      I haven’t confirmed they say to skip this one but I had a co-worker who was a genuine fan, in retrospect it makes sense why and I can’t even remember what she said about it, I wasn’t eye-opened to it’s badness yet haha, I just haven’t been able to crack a book in years, mostly read stuff online, but I think she just said the first book or maybe two was skippable. IDK. I also had another coworker who loved After or whatever although she did say it was wild (I’m not sure if for her it was trainwreck syndrome or it just hit certain notes for her, probably a mix of both) and like a lot of us working there were queer, neurodivergent, and what not. Stuff like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is amazing but still has shades of awkwardness.

      And like we all love bad shit from time to time. I still enjoy Hyper Police and I’ve recently refound AoStH which really isn’t as bad as I remember but does have its issues as well. So anyway, the people who like this aren’t stupid it’s just legitimately most mass media cultivating rape culture, internalized misogyny, and trying to cope with all of that IMHO. It took a long decade or so just to get us to something as healthy as the Owl House and THAT GOT CANCELLED. And I’m only talking about animation too. Think of all the movies and shit… A lot of queer folks love horror for all sorts of reason but a lot of it is steeped in racism, homophobia, transphobia, and classism, sometimes to explore such things and turn them on their head but a lot of it is just regurgitating the same shit seen in other media thanks to the Hayes Code and other nonsense.

      but idk this is all my conjecture. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of stuff.

      A lot of fans probably have a lot of internalized societal stuff that they may or may not be aware of. Remember that Jenny herself said she wrote some stuff that had similar issues and she wishes she could go back and fix some of it but like Harlequin owns the rights or something. We’re all susceptible to this stuff at some point in our lives; most people are. Whether or not you become aware of issues all around you (if you’re not facing them directly yourself and thus can’t avoid them at all) depends on a lot of things, some of which may be pure chance sadly. The people in power benefit from promoting media laced with terrible shit so it’s no surprise bad faith takes get more traction and then the brainwashed masses (no shade to them, they’ve been told this shit is normal from a young age presumably) eats it up if it’s what they crave because of this push.

      Sorry I hope some of this made sense haha

      November 3, 2023
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I think I got a sentence out of place sorry I read some comments before I went back to reread then decided to open another window to comment bit by bit then started discussing this and realized it’s really a response to your comment here so forgive me if I mangled it in the swap to respond to you directly haha

        November 3, 2023
        |Reply
  5. Toya
    Toya

    It’s the complete and blithe disregard for Fayray’s free will for me. You stupid girl, how dare you not fell in love with this strange faery in this strange land sooner?!

    Pure rage. This book is…
    I listen to this podcast based on book reviews and I love the hosts but every time I scroll past their episodes about Sarah J Maas (which aren’t critical at all) I cringe. It makes me wonder how anyone who has such good opinions on other fiction…can like this crap???? How do they not see the steaming pile of shit within the pages??? It’s SO BIZARRE.

    Straight to jail, in my opinion.

    Kuzco’s poison made me giggle like crazy.

    November 3, 2023
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      We all have our guilty favorites. Unfortunately sometimes people think if they enjoy something problematic or with awkward implications then they can’t point out the actual issues or they no longer love it. It’s a weird dual trap I guess.

      Also, possible the fandom is so massive they just didn’t want to be brave but yeah, it can be frustrating when people don’t take a seasoned stance, simply express their biases and preferences, and try to give critique without outright dripping vitriol.

      Other side is if they start thinking about all the nasty stuff it kinda ruins it for them and they just want to think it through because they still want to like it. An exhausting tightrope in some cases so I kinda get it but finding a balance can be important. (Also possible they knew if they got started on the affront they wouldn’t be able to stop… Jenny TRIED to be generous and the book just killed all her good will because she couldn’t get suckered in by the fact there’s next to nothing focusing on faeries aside from that one big romance series that I forget the name of, I think the MC is named Mercy or something, but probably also inspired this one. lol I wouldn’t be surprised.)

      And don’t get me wrong, I love performing an autopsy of the author but while it doesn’t bode well for anyone, at the end of the day, we all have enjoyed some problematic shit in our lives. It’s just frustrating when something this bad gains this much traction and something better didn’t find that niche first.

      November 3, 2023
      |Reply
      • kristy
        kristy

        I would settle for it just making sense, at this point. I’ll forgive a lot if there’s internal consistency.

        November 5, 2023
        |Reply
        • Mab
          Mab

          I’m even willing to overlook some internal consistency if the story has engaging characters. The only think I cannot overlook is first person present. That’s my personal line I will not cross. Always feels like I’m reading an instruction manual.
          Sadly, other than the bones of an interesting story (that she stole from Beauty and the Beast anyway) there is nothing to root for in this mess. The only characters I barely tolerate are the ones who hate the main character because at least we’ve got something in common. The plot doesn’t exist. The writing is inconsistent. The only good thing about it is Jenny’s recap and I’m going to go out on a limb and say they were never the writers intent. lol

          November 5, 2023
          |Reply
  6. Me
    Me

    If faeries were encroaching on human lands masquerading as wolves and getting killed, how was that an act of hate?
    If “wolves” were being killed, it was either because A) they were hunted for a purpose, or B) they were harming livestock and a farmer did what he needed to protect his assets.
    There is C), which could be malicious intent, but it seems reaching to think a fairy-wolf being killed is because of hate.
    If they wanted to provoke a human to hate-kill, then they should have sent a fairy to kidnap a human female, abuse her to the breaking point where she finally snaps and kills out of fear and hatred, then have prince charming come pick up the pieces, because I just don’t see where the kill-wolf automatically means “hate”.

    November 3, 2023
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      You’re 100% correct but I think this stupid aside was to explain why Feyre hated faeries at first and felt compelled to kill Andras. It makes no sense but it’s her retroactively trying to explain why such stupidity needed to happen for the plot to work which is… still stupid but whatever. Also, I’m sure she tried to use it as a flaw to make Feyre compelling and that could work except not for this romance.

      My theory is Maas had all these ideas, she saw things happening a very specific way because it looked cool in her head, then she later got the idea to subvert shit by making Tamlin not into the true love interest or whatever so she went back and tried to build him up subtly as this manipulative bastard but it doesn’t really work for multiple reasons (mostly execution but also just… she didn’t have Feyre SUSPECT this which if she isn’t supposed to be canonically stupid should’ve honestly crossed Feyre’s mind sooner back when she didn’t trust them.) Like Feyre and this plot could be a great way to build some gray mortality it’s just handled very, very badly.

      November 3, 2023
      |Reply
  7. Dove
    Dove

    Poor Alis. This sucks ass.

    Okay, so several recaps I meant to go back in and do a kinda bit by bit comment on a few things but never did because TBH this book is exhausting. Pretty sure this’ll be the same but I opened another window to get a few point by point comments on individual tidbits going.

    |Which really backfires when the human crucifies Clythia and cuts her to pieces while she’s still alive.

    wut like wut. I’m dying imagining she’s a Clit and the crucifixion makes her look like a vagina in her flowing fantasy faerie/elf cape but that’s still fridging this bitch’s sister to give her some sympathy and then uhhh… why bother?? IDK I guess to avoid claims the book isn’t feminist enough but too late.

    ALSO I know crucifixion existed before Jesus but like… wut?? How did this guy benefit? Was he just an abusive ass?? IN THAT CASE WHY DIDN’T YOU WARN HER??? It’s victim blaming and just using the Clitoris for justified rage of her future bad actions but… ugh.

    |Maybe if people didn’t shit on every other fantasy subgenre, correctly categorizing this book wouldn’t be such a controversial thing.

    God, I feel that. ALSO the giant trend to make Disney villains “relatable” is to blame too. Just… look, some people are evil. Let them revel in that. You can enjoy genuinely evil characters even if they have shitty motivations. The urge to sanitize and course correct and explain every villain is an actual problem. I get why it happens, there’s some villains people love and they wanna make them closer to anti-heroes but like… this is because Black and White morality is pervasive yet people don’t really understand Gray morality. Which is a problem I’ve also fallen into and only in recent years come to understand.

    Ha ha look… sadism can be enjoyed and it doesn’t make you bad as long as you understand that IRL actual sadism should only be engaged in with consent.

    This is why Bojack Horseman is kind of amazing. Yes, it has flaws, but the entire point is that he does shitty things, he tries to excuse himself, and there are consequences he has trouble facing… but at the end of the day, no matter what awful things Bojack has done, no matter whether you forgive him or not, he’s just this guy. He’s just a person. And yes, you have darkness inside you too.

    Too many people want to throw blame and not take accountability unfortunately. And like that’s common… you can make a great villain that way. People are too quick to side with someone they sympathize with and have trouble stepping back and recognizing that even the worst most god awful fucking assholes in the entire world are just messed up humans. And it doesn’t excuse their behavior but when you explain something, you have to be careful not to simply accept the bad things even if you may understand why someone did something. There’s also the downside we often forget we can’t read minds and demonize or sanctify based entirely on assumptions using our own experience.

    IDK man fandom and in people can be exhausting. Especially online.

    |Isn’t it awesome how Alis just knows all this shit about her boss and his personal life and how he feels about politics and stuff? It’s great that this information is so easily accessible to everyone in Prythian.

    lol I’m taking this as confirmation Alis can read minds too. No wonder she was so terse with Feyre. She knows the insipidness.

    Yeah we had Tamlin info-dumping Lucien so I guess it only made sense someone ELSE had to info-dump for Tamlin but goddamn poor Alis. Poor everyone holy fuck we could’ve had any kinds of stronger hints if there was like some reason Feyre wasn’t such a bitch and actually talked to people besides Tamlin and Lucien. She barely speaks to Alis so this is just Alis trauma-venting on the bitch who’s here; they have no true relationship. Feyre isn’t a friend to Alis and she NEVER made any effort to become one.

    It’s especially sad because I love slow-burn thrillers where the audience has some knowledge based on the source material and it gently unravels before them in ways they might not have expected but are satisfying because they still make perfect sense with what the audience already knows (or should hopefully.) This book could’ve been that instead of what it actually is.

    |“Worse, the faerie she killed had to be one of his men, sent across the wall by him like lambs to slaughter. The girl could only be brought here to be courted if she killed one of his men in an unprovoked attacked––killed him for hatred alone, just as Jurian had done to Clythia … So he could understand her sister’s pain.”

    Don’t you love it when people don’t understand how abusive situations and abusive people work? Not Jenny, but Maas and by extension Amarantha.

    Yeah, there’s hate but there’s so much other shit going on, such as rape culture and frankly there is an abuse culture thing outside of rape, that’s why abuse is incredibly messy. This is another incident of Black and White morality, just like everything else. Plus it’s kinda victim blaming Clythia again good lord.

    No, I’m not saying rape is good or every justified but one of the reasons it’s considered “worse than death” is because the people in power don’t actually condemn it, they condone it for themselves, and it’s only those extremist situations that they deny or decry while backing everyone else subtly. It’s why they try to stifle discussions surrounding consent and healthy relationships. They benefit from telling others “Oh, you could never be a rapist because you’re not that much of a bastard” and people comfort themselves without ever taking a critical look at the sexism implicit even when it comes to men and boys (and why men try to shout down the conversation either in bad faith or misguided attempts to voice actual concerns.)

    This same shit surrounds abuse. I’m betting a LOT of people think “I could never be abusive” because we only hear about the situations where it came to murder and so a lot of low-key abusers, partners or parents, continue on, unchallenged or uncritical of themselves because to do so would be painful. And I’m not saying abuse or rape are good things, far from it, but they’re sensationalized much as gun violence is for a very specific reason: to keep the status quo in place.

    |You know, one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned about painting is that you have to know when enough is enough. You have to stop when you get to the point where you can trust the piece to be what you meant it to be. You can ruin a totally fine painting by trying to make it “more” for no reason.

    |Oh, hey, congrats to us, though, for reading a chapter where Feyre doesn’t mention painting. I guess I just took a little of the shine off that moment, huh?

    hahahahahaha no no this was perfect thank you for the tip and actually knowing how to include it properly. You’re saving my sanity here, Jenny.

    |I didn’t realize you could have messiah complex and martyr complex at the same time.

    I’m devastated and crying auuuuggghhh I hate this book so much. They’re victim blaming Feyre for not being more of a strong female protagonist even though this had nothing to do with that or her love life and I’m so fucking angry. Feyre could’ve been interesting as a deeply flawed person but instead she’d vapid as hell even up to now and I CAN’T EVEN AGREE WITH THE SHADE THEY DO THROW half of the time. I’m crying internally ughhh I feel sick fuck this book so much.

    It had so much wasted potential because she just slammed Sailor Moon, the Hunger Games, Mists of Avalon, Beauty and the Beast, and some other fairy tales together with Tamlin. UGH.

    BY THE WAY can anyone knowledgeable tell me if Maas claiming that Sabriel and Hero of the Crown were some of her influences is legitimate? I almost feel bad for liking the latter as it’s the only one I read as a teen. I still have a copy but while my memory is telling me I loved it because the MC can be interpreted as AroAce and maybe even nonbinary, I just… I can’t bring myself to crack it open to find out. (I wouldn’t argue it was an amazing book either but has to be a world better than this one… I hope so anyway even with some minor problematic stuff perhaps.)

    I’m in complete agreement with that rant at the end and just everything. My lord this entire book has been such a wild ride. Thanks, Jenny. I hate it! ;_;

    November 3, 2023
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      shit meant that to be “ever justified” because you can’t justify abuse or rape. I think technically all you can justify is self defense when it comes to violence but humanity is sadly some weird ape with urges sitting somewhere between chimpanzees and bonobos, our society is built upon this dynamic of always debating which is better, between lust and aggression, as a means to resolve problems.

      We are complicated beasts.

      November 3, 2023
      |Reply
  8. Sandy
    Sandy

    I’m sorry but I had to quickly scroll down and leave a comment before I got past the second paragraph because this is my design had me roaring with laughter. Literal throw my head back laughter.

    November 3, 2023
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  9. Alicia
    Alicia

    The curse twist here could have been so fun if she’d revised her first draft to properly foreshadow and build up to it??? The POV would still be a flaw, 100% true, but I honestly think it could have been a really satisfying reveal in a much better version of the story. Like, what was Tamlin even doing to encourage Fire* to ~fall in love~ with him?? Making the table smaller? Telling her what she’s not allowed to do and then vanishing? Swoon, I guess…

    *I can’t stop pronouncing her name this way in my head, even though I know it’s wrong.

    November 3, 2023
    |Reply
    • Lena
      Lena

      To be fair, Faerae IS “in love” with him (so we’ve been told, in lieu of any evidence to that effect), so making the table smaller, ordering some paints from Fairyzon, and flashing his blood-splattered abs a few times did the job.

      Tremendous feats of wooing would have been wasted on someone who has the emotional depth of a toenail clipping.

      November 4, 2023
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      • Mab
        Mab

        I actually would have loved it if the twist was that Tam had been trolling the village looking for the shallowest, most self involved simpleton he could find because he knew it would be easy to get her to fall in love with him.

        Fayray’s obsession with not being able to paint things, her kink for aggressive assholes who can barely contain the desire to rape her and her martyr complex would all make her the perfect target for his plan. Though that wouldn’t fix the problem that the whole curse motivation is incredibly stupid and not at all thought out. But it would make Tam a lot more interesting.

        November 4, 2023
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        • Lena
          Lena

          Yes! Or if Fayray wasn’t the first fairy killer he’s tried to seduce in the past 49 years and he’s so sick of racist humans at this point, his attitude is “yeah, whatever, we’re fucked” and he can’t be arsed to do more than the bare minimum while staring down the inevitable. Except THIS silly human has the lowest possible standards and is into the bare minimum. He got her in the sack. She “felt his love.” All they had to do was have Lucien tell her the morning after “whatever you do, NEVER tell Timtam you love him,” and their long national nightmare would have been over 20 seconds later.

          Instead, he decided he’d rather condemn himself and what’s left of his people rather than step across the finish line that was RIGHT THERE, which means he’s an irresponsible ass unfit for a leadership role. What a prize!

          November 5, 2023
          |Reply
          • Mab
            Mab

            I would have loved Lucien forever and ever if he’d caught on to the fact that Fayray will basically do the exact opposite of what anyone tells her to do and did exactly what you said. “Don’t tell him you love him no matter what. It is dangerous and will kill you.”

            Seconds later Fayray “Timtam, I have to tell you, I love you!”

            Timtam “Halifuckingluya! We’re free.” Looks at her standing there all expectant. “Thanks. You can go now.”

            The End.

            November 5, 2023
          • Dove
            Dove

            I evil cackled about setting up Lucien for Reverse Psychology because it’s so true! Feyre would’ve wrapped herself in knots and done it before Rhys the Fuck Toy arrived!

            November 6, 2023
          • Dove
            Dove

            Mab, that’s perfect and I’d love Lucien forever too. I can hear that song playing in my mind now lol

            “Cold and broken Hallelujah… Hallelujah–Hallelujah”

            November 6, 2023
  10. ‘The giant table was magically smaller when she left.’

    Maybe tables are like werewolves and return to their natural form on being killed?

    November 5, 2023
    |Reply
    • Mab
      Mab

      HAHAHAHAHAA That was awesome. It makes as much sense as anything else in this book so why not?

      November 5, 2023
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Table werewolves sounds like a better time!

      November 6, 2023
      |Reply
  11. Jaycie
    Jaycie

    What if Twilight had a curse this convoluted? Alice returns at the end of New Moon and just infodumps all over Bella: “So Edward turned Irina down, and she wasn’t too happy about that, so she went to the Volturi and made them put a curse on him. If he didn’t find a human who was willing to marry him by the time he and the other Cullens graduated, he would have to go back to Alaska and blow her back out every night for all eternity. Also the human had to have brown hair, and brown eyes, and really plain clothing, and a flat voice, and a name that rhymed with ‘varicella,’ and be so clumsy that you wondered if she had some kind of undiagnosed inner ear thing. Also he had to rescue her at least five times before the marriage happened. Also she had to come from the desert. Also he had to fight a werewolf for her love. And since he’s afraid to marry you OR fuck Irina, he’s going to force the Volturi to kill him. And he wouldn’t have been afraid to marry you if not for the incident sparked by you getting a paper cut at your birthday party. So this is really all your fault.”

    November 6, 2023
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  12. ShifterCat
    ShifterCat

    Yet another plot hole I’m surprised nobody pointed out:

    Why didn’t Tamlin just agree to become Amarantha’s lover? Like, yes, it would absolutely suck for him, but it would mean not sending hundreds of his own peeps out to get killed.

    November 12, 2023
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  13. Hek
    Hek

    This chapter also has this riveting passage:

    “When she first cursed him, Tamlin sent one of his men across the wall every day. To the woods, to farms, all disguised as wolves to make it more likely for one of your kind to want to kill them. Ifthey came back, it was with stories of human girls who ran and screamed and begged, who didn’t even lift a hand. When they didn’t come back—Tamlin’s bond with them as their Lord and master told him they’d been killed by others. Human hunters, older women, perhaps.”

    First, as an aside, love the unnecessary pre-emptive explanation of how Tamlin knew how they’d been killed.

    But also holy shit. I have no idea how to interpret the mention of “older women” there other than “and thus not eligible”??? Did Amarantha specify that she had to be YOUNG AND HOT, or was that not in the laundry list of clauses she saw fit to include?

    Speaking of which, here’s the writing getting in its own way again. “Oh, you say you’d rather lie with a human than with me? CURSE THEE, then! And your curse can only be broken by the love of a human! But not just any human – it must be a human who has killed a faerie in cold blood!” is like, completely fine, as curses go. Amarantha’s backstory is enough to infer why she puts those additional clauses there, if you have literally any trust in your readers to infer anything (SJM doesn’t). Everything else is completely unnecessary. The fact that the curse made Tamlin’s own court dwindle to nothing is pretty easy to explain without it being in the wording of the curse directly. After all, who is gonna send but the people actually under his command? Or worse yet, if the “blight” were something actually terrible and fearsome rather than Glittery Mask Superglue, you could have his courtiers volunteering for the job, and the guilt this would cause in him.

    Once again, the waste of potential is maddening. The fact that a better story was RIGHT there, and wouldn’t even have required a major rewrite but a change in detail of what was already there.

    Anyway, imagine how much better the book would have been forced to be if the protagonist had been the faerie-killing mercenary, and if she’d actually been older, rather than “in her twenties” or whatever.

    December 22, 2023
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