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A Court of Jealousy and Haters: ACOTAR chapter 44, or “Amarantha Chiropractic and Holistic Wellness Center”

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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.

Before my big, stress-induced gap in recaps, ed.—Hey, that’s happening again right now! we’d just seen Feyre stab Tamlin in the heart because she got a hunch from like two times she’d heard people say he had a heart of stone or whatever and ZOMG TWIST. At the beginning of this chapter, he’s shouting and bleeding.

But then there was a faint thud—and a stinging reverberation in my hand as the dagger struck something hard and unyielding. Tamlin lurched forward, his face going pale, and I yanked the dagger from his chest. As the blood drained away from the polished wood, I lifted the blade.

Its tip had been nicked, turned inward on itself.

Ma’am. That is wood. The tip should be broken or blunted. Wood is not malleable and bendy like metal.

But the point is, she was right, and she knows she was right because Rhysand is smiling and Amarantha is pissed off.

Kill her now, I wanted to bark at Tamlin, but he didn’t move as he pushed his hand against his wound, blood dribbling out.

I’m going to be so happy to (hopefully) never again read statements like, “he didn’t do this thing, but he did.” If he pressed his hand to his chest, he moved. But like, also, what did you expect to happen? It’s been made pretty clear throughout the book that if a fairy is wounded by ash, they can’t heal the wound with their magic. You still stabbed him in the fucking heart.

Of course, everybody on the bus claps. That is, the fairies in the crowd start shouting about how she won, and Amarantha should free her and Tamlin.

“I’ll free them whenever I see fit. Feyre didn’t specify when I had to free them—just that I had to. At some point. Perhaps when you’re dead,” she finished with a hateful smile. “You assumed that when I said instantaneous freedom regarding the riddle, it applied to the trials, too, didn’t you? Foolish, stupid human.”

That’s exactly what I said! And I don’t even live in Fairyville or wherever the shit this awful book takes place, but I was better at the fairy contract than Feyre. Make me the hero of this book; this shit would be cleaned up in no time. I would have turned over Tamlin and Lucien to Amarantha in a heartbeat and been like, “Hey, here are these prisoners, but I get to live in that luxurious house with all the servants, okay?” Because all of the characters in this book are useless and horrible, I would have no qualms about selling them out.

Anyway, the next time Amarantha speaks, it’s still directly to Feyre, but it’s just… weird.

“And you,” she hissed at me. “You.” Her teeth gleamed—turning sharp. “I’m going to kill you.”

I feel like maybe something got cut between the last bit of dialogue about “foolish, stupid human” and this part because “And you” doesn’t make any sense. Nobody else has spoken, and Amarantha hasn’t spoken to anyone else. “Foolish, stupid human. And you […]” just doesn’t sound right.

Is that a nitpick? Sure. But I feel like there are only so many times I can talk about the shittiness of this book in the macro, and now I’m focused on the micro.

Just like how I’m gonna nitpick the use of italics in so much of Amarantha’s dialogue throughout this chapter. It’s truly baffling. Is she saying this shit sarcastically? What’s up with the italics?

Amarantha strikes Feyre with something “far more violent than lightning” and slams her to the floor.

“I’m going to make you pay for your insolence,” Amarantha snarled, and a scream ravaged my throat as pain like nothing I had known erupted through me.

There’s something weird about Sarah J. Maas regarding how much she tortures her main character. I realize it’s a fantasy novel, and people get hurt, but Feyre is constantly getting slammed around or her bones broken or whatever. And now, since she’s done the broken arm and the beaten to unconsciousness a couple of times, she has to ramp up the physical harm.

Amarantha keeps hurting Feyre and cracking her bones while demanding that Feyre say she doesn’t love Tamlin.

“Feyre!” someone roared. No, not someone—Rhysand.

Yes! This happened once before, didn’t it?! I love it. I absolutely love it. You’re not someone, Rhysand. You’re no one. I’m dying. It’s my favorite.

My back arched, and my ribs cracked, one by one.

If you’re wondering, yes. She survives this chapter. Sorry for the bad news.

I’m skipping over a bunch of stuff because it’s just this repetitive loop of Amarantha saying something she’s pretty much already said a bunch of times, like how Feyre isn’t worthy of fairy love or whatever and how she’s lowly and a pig and stuff, then hurting her. ed.—This section was absolutely written with a movie adaptation in mind. Amarantha monologues and mugs like a Marvel villain. But what happens in the middle of that is Rhysand having the forethought to grab the ash dagger. Amarantha hits him with some light that pushes him back before he can strike her.

But the pain paused for a second, long enough for me to see him hit the ground and rise again and lunge for her—with hands that now ended in talons. He slammed into the invisible wall Amarantha had raised around herself, and my pain flickered as she turned to him.

Feyre. How do you know she raised an invisible wall around herself? It’s invisible.

Amarantha takes a minute to beat the shoes off Rhysand while Feyre begs her to stop. And that redirects Amarantha’s rage to Feyre.

“Stop? Stop? Don’t pretend you care, human,” she crooned, and curled her finger. I arched my back, my spine straining to the point of cracking, and Rhysand bellowed my name as I lost my grip on the room.

I would have gone with “my back arched” instead of “I arched my back” because it makes it sound like it’s something Feyre did on purpose when it’s clear that it was because of Amarantha’s finger crook. That’s something minor I would have noted in this book had I or anyone else edited it.

Then the memories began—a compilation of the worst moments of my life, a storybook of despair and darkness.

Is that the title of a later book in the series? Because this one should have been called A Storybook of Despair and Darkness, as those are the two things I feel most while reading this.

But we only see one of these horrible memories that are cascading over her. The sentence immediately following the excerpted one above reads:

The final page came, and I wept, not entirely feeling the agony of my body as I saw that young rabbit, bleeding out in that forest clearing, my knife in her throat. My first kill—the first life I’d taken.

I’d been starving, desperate. Yet afterward, once my family had devoured it, I had crept back into the woods and wept for hours, knowing a line had been crossed, my soul stained.

She just killed two people. She got a friend killed. She killed Andras.

But we’re going to go on a half-cocked weep about her stained soul because she killed a rabbit to feed her starving family.

That made me google whether or not Maas is a vegetarian.

And there’s no reason to include it. It’s just there. Nothing comes full-circle because she has this memory or anything. It’s just, oh no, remember that time I killed a rabbit? And then it goes immediately back to:

“Say that you don’t love him!”Amarantha shrieked, and the blood on my hands became the blood of that rabbit—became the blood of what I had lost.

But I wouldn’t say it. Because loving Tamlin was the only thing I had left, the only thing I couldn’t sacrifice.

There is a small, quiet voice in my mind that has become unquiet. It is screaming to topple the high towers of Sarah J. Maas’s career. THE GOD DAMN BUNNY DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. There is no logical narrative tie between the bunny and losing Tamlin. What am I even reading here? ed.—It’s like Maas wanted there to be some kind of motif woven throughout the story so that she could be poetic about it, but she didn’t think she needed to actually introduce that motif anywhere in the story at all.

Tamlin starts crawling over to Amarantha, and his wound isn’t healing because, you know, ash.

Amarantha had never intended for me to live, never intended to let him go.

Oh, no shit? Wow, I’m shocked at this sudden twist that wasn’t telegraphed by literally every character you’ve spoken to in Prythian but wow, such insight.

Tamlin is like, Amarantha, stop, I take back what I said about your sister, etc., and this is Feyre’s take away from that moment:

Tamlin’s eyes were so green—green like the meadows of his estate.

And it’s his grass green fucking eyes that give her strength or whatever, and there’s a full page of the same interaction Feyre has been having this whole damn time with Amarantha. She’s like, say you don’t love him, and Feyre thinks no, never, I’ll never say that because that’s how much I love him, and it’s just… Like, get on with it already. Jeez. ed.—I don’t think I can impress upon you enough just how repetitive this chapter was. Amarantha would say the same thing over and over, but differently worded, and these sections happed like three times. I was starting to think Amarantha was going to execute Feyre by talking her to death.

But yeah, remember the riddle and how super hard it was? Turns out the love she feels for Tamlin helps her solve it! For a really long time on the page!

For though each of my strikes lands a powerful blow, When I kill, I do it slow …

That’s what these three months had been—a slow, horrible death. What I felt for Tamlin was the cause of this. There was no cure—not pain, or absence, or happiness.

But scorned, I become a difficult beast to defeat.

She could torture me all she liked, but it would never destroy what I felt for him. It would never make Tamlin want her—never ease the sting of his rejection.

Truly good riddles have that “Misery Business” energy, you know?

But I bless all those who are brave enough to dare.

For so long, I had run from it. But opening myself to him, to my sisters—that had been a test of bravery as harrowing as any of my trials.

And I like it when the riddles require the person to think of themselves as really brave, too.

Blood filled my mouth, warm as it dribbled out between my lips. I gazed at Tamlin’s masked face one last time.

“Love,” I breathed, the world crumbling into a blackness with no end. A pause in Amarantha’s magic. “The answer to the riddle …,” I got out, choking on my own blood, “is … love.”

You owe it to yourself to act that part out. You have to do it. Act it out like you’re Nicholas Cage.

So, that would be a good chapter hook, wouldn’t it? Her just answering the riddle? WELL, TOO BAD! Sarah added another line:

Tamlin’s eyes went wide before something forever cracked in my spine.

Because she’s got to go just that one step past what makes you want to keep reading. Even though I’ve read the next chapter and I know how it goes, the first time I read it, I was like, here we go. Here’s where she does a Frodo wake-up and bangs Tam Gamgee. Honestly? I wouldn’t have turned the page if I wasn’t getting paid to.

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  1. Al

    It’s also contradictory, too. She says it “forever cracked” but… it got fixed? So it didn’t “forever” crack. What the heck.

    December 4, 2023
  2. Ferris Mewler
    Ferris Mewler

    I know I’m stating the obvious here but … this is so bad. So unbelievably badly-written. And badly-plotted. And it isn’t a Beauty and the Beast retelling at all. And it’s so popular. Is this the Bad Place?

    December 4, 2023
  3. Lena

    “something forever cracked in my spine”

    I thought I might make it to the end without hulking out over this, but she’s surpassed my limit for vague, noncommittal some____s.

    Someone, something, sometime, somewhere, and somehow should be reserved for occasions when who, what, when, where, and how are unknown by the character thinking or speaking of them. The rest of the time, one should use the actual words for the information one is attempting to convey so no reader yells “Oh, SOMETHING cracked in your spine? WAS IT A GLOW STICK? A SECRET CODE? POCKY? It’s cracked FOREVER and no one’s mentioned a chronic disability going forward, so SOMETHING must be anatomically insignificant!”

    I’m not asking for the uneducated peasant to diagnose a displaced transverse process fracture, but is it a bony kind of pain, which could be compared and contrasted with the previous broken arm in the interest of continuity? Is it a soft tissue kind of pain? Nerve damage? ANY teensy-weensy sensory detail that indicates the character is experiencing what we’re being told is happening. We know she’s going to be fine 2 pages later because words are meaningless, so go wild!

    December 4, 2023
    • ShifterCat

      Right? She could have written something like, ‘and then I felt an especially sickening wet *crack*, and my vision went dark.”

      December 4, 2023
      • Mab

        Oh, now that is well written. “sickening wet crack” is visceral.

        December 4, 2023
      • Dove

        That works so, so much better. It could still end without it because of course she’ll be fine but that’s an actually good fake-out for her gruesome death!

        December 4, 2023
    • Mab

      Now I will forever imagine Lucien smuggling bundles of Pocky to her. Hopefully not a good flavor like chocolate though. Maybe Matcha. (no offence to matcha fans). Maybe they have special fairy flavors like dreamcicle rainbow farts or something.

      Though if that had been happening we either would have heard how Fayray has no clue how to paint a pile of twig-like snacks or how she thinks she can somehow weave them together to create a weapon that will help her escape.

      Instead I will just assume she is now paralyzed and therefore become “lazy” like her father.

      December 4, 2023
    • Akri

      The “something” is so wholly unnecessary here too. Just tell us her spine is cracking! It’s fine!

      All I can imagine now is Sarah J Maas narrating her day with a bunch of needless “somethings” added in. “I turned the key, and something in the lock clicked.” “I tipped the wine bottle, and something poured into the glass.” “I opened the lego x-wing box and followed all the instructions and some kind of lego something was on my table at the end.”

      December 4, 2023
  4. Jaycie

    “And you,” she hissed at me. “You.” Her teeth gleamed—turning sharp. “I’m going to kill you.”

    Has some “Too bad YOU… will diiiieee” energy there.

    December 4, 2023
  5. Does Maas not understand that she cannot make the exact rules of the trials matter at this point? Her fairies can break their word! She made a point of establishing that! If your fairies can lie, you can’t make deals, rules, and treaties a fundamental part of your plot. Those only work if there’s something backing them up. It doesn’t matter whether Feyre was careful about the exact bargains she made or the rules she agreed to, because everyone she made those deals with can break them with zero consequence. What’s she gonna do, get a lawyer?

    It baffles me why Maas went to the trouble of subverting “faeries can’t lie” if she was just going to proceed as though it were still the case. She gets nothing out of that change, and it breaks the plot. It’s as much of an unforced error as Stephenie Meyer suddenly deciding in Breaking Dawn that all vampire body fluids are venom.

    December 4, 2023
    • ShifterCat

      RIGHT? A big part of the lore about faeries (and most supernatural creatures, now that I think of it), is that if there’s any sort of vow or bargain involving them, they HAVE to keep it.

      Just. Argh. Why even write this stuff if you don’t care about the important details?

      December 7, 2023
  6. Dove

    Okay, look. I’m just gonna fix all of this shitty sentence structure for Maas and add some flourishes. It won’t be great but it’ll help, I hope.

    | Kill her now!

    I wanted to bark that at Tamlin so badly but I couldn’t. I felt guilty. This wasn’t quite the response I’d been expecting.

    He looked so stunned and he barely moved. Instead of taking this golden opportunity, he merely pushed his hand against the wound to stop the bleeding. |

    | “I’ll free them whenever I want! Feyre didn’t specify when I had to free them, only that I would. So I’ll do it after you’re already dead, you foolish girl,” Amarantha said with a hateful smile. “You assumed when I said instantaneous freedom for solving my riddle, that it would apply to the trials, too, didn’t you?”

    “You,” she hissed at me. “You stupid human.”

    Her teeth gleamed as they sharpened to fine points.

    “I’m going to kill you!” |

    | “Feyre!” a voice roared.

    It took me a moment to recognize who it was because it wasn’t Tamlin.

    I would’ve expected that and I longed to hear him, especially now that I’d stabbed him to save us both and nothing had come of it. I’d failed. If only I could hear him.

    But no, it was Rhysand! He was the one who’d shouted my name. It was /his/ anger, fear, and regret being voiced! |

    but goddamn everything, especially that last line. It truly does just need to be deleted. I think she added it for the extra cinematic grab but it doesn’t work.

    Also, yeah, she solved it but if she dies, in theory nothing was promised that would bring her back to life (I think) so IMHO Feyre should stay dead.

    December 4, 2023

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