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A Court of Jealousy and Haters: ACOTAR chapter 4 or “The Defendant Will Be Remanded Into NONSENSE.”

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It has come to my attention that I never reposted chapter four of the ACOTAR recaps here. While this is EXTREMELY on brand for me and my attention to detail, I simply cannot let you all miss the wonder and glory that is… ELK HORNS. Happy New Year, and may Sarah J. Maas never darken our door again in the decades to come.

If you were thinking, “well, now the action is really kicking off! There won’t be any time for Feyre to complain about her sisters now!”

Are you new here? The past posts aren’t archived, friend. Keep up. Of course, she manages to squeeze in more complaints about her sisters.

Chapter three ended with the door blasting off the hinges into the cottage.

I didn’t know how the wooden hilt of my hunting knife had gotten into my hand. The first few moments were a blur of the snarling of a gigantic beast with golden fur, the shrieking of my sisters, the blistering cold cascading into the room, and my father’s terror-stricken face.

It’s not the feared Martax because it has the following characteristics:

  • large as a horse
  • cat-like body
  • wolfish head
  • horns like an elk*

*They are not like an elk. At least, not any elk I’ve ever seen; Maas describes them as “curled horns.” Elk don’t have horns, they have antlers, and they aren’t supposed to curl.

So, it’s a big spooky beast with what I will assume are ram horns because if they were, in fact, antlers such as on an elk’s head? Motherfucker is stuck in the doorway.

Somehow, I wound up in front of my sisters, even as the creature reared onto its hind legs and bellowed through a maw full of fangs: “MURDERERS!”

“Somehow” she ended up there. Hey, let me solve the mystery for you: it’s because you’re heroic and everyone else is a coward in comparison and now the readers all must love you.


Feyre knows immediately that it’s a fairy or faerie, which is a spelling I’m guilty as hell of but which I still cringe at every time, even in my own stupid, stupid writing.

I should have asked the mercenary how she’d killed that faerie.

Am I high? (Yes) Did I or did I not wonder this very same thing? IDK, maybe I didn’t. But I feel like I intended to. Or maybe not.

My sisters screamed, kneeling against the wall of the hearth, my father crouched in front of them. Another body for me to defend.

I’m sorry, weren’t you the one talking about how one time he got beaten up so bad it made you shit your pants? Is it possible he’s reliving a little bit of that trauma now? Or does it not matter because it’s not Feyre’s trauma? Plus, he’s disabled. Is he supposed to throw himself to the beast when you’ve already stepped between your family, brandishing a knife?

“P-please,” my father babbled from behind me, failing to find it in himself to come to my side.

Again, the lack of compassion here is just staggering. He’s disabled. From an incident where people burst into his house and committed horrific violence. But he’s not living up to Feyre’s expectations?

Her father tells the beast that whatever they did, they did it without knowing it was bad. Nesta holds up her anti-fairy bracelet, which we are reminded again is a silly thing to do, and Feyre decides it’s actually smarter to threaten this giant monster with a kitchen knife. She wants to get to the arrow in her quiver that killed the wolf but the knife is her best chance, so she hurls it at the beast, who smacks it away like a mosquito, basically, and snaps his teeth in Feyre’s face.

His eyes were green and flecked with amber. Not animal eyes, not with their shape and coloring.

Wait, were we still under the impression that this is an animal? After it talked? OMG IS THIS WICKED?

The beast tells them that the murder he’s talking about is the wolf Feyre killed.

Would he know if I lied? Faeries couldn’t lie—all mortals knew that—but could they smell the lies on human tongues? We had no chance of escaping this through fighting, but there might be other ways.

Since trying to kill him didn’t work, Feyre decides to ask the beast what he thinks he should get in return for someone accidentally, totally not on purpose, killing the wolf.

The beast let out a bark that could have been a bitter laugh. He pushed off the table to pace in a small circle before the shattered door. The cold was so intense that I shivered. “The payment you must offer is the one demanded by the Treaty between our realms.”

And what’s that payment? Well, Feyre can’t remember. See, even though she knows she was taught about the Treaty that must never be broken, it was when she was a kid and she has no memories of it. To me, this smacks of world-building contradiction. Everything about these people’s lives is ruled by this agreement with the monsters next door. Every moment revolves around not getting killed by fairies…so why would Feyre, who has positioned herself as an expert in such matters to the reader, not have a clue about what happens if the Treaty gets broken?

But she has to be a badass, so she takes responsibility for the murder before finding out what the punishment is going to entail.

And somehow, she turns it into a flex about how skinny she is.

I stared into those jade eyes. “I did.” 

He blinked and glanced at my sisters, then back at me, at my thinness—no doubt seeing only frailness instead. “Surely you lie to save them.”

SURELY you do, for you are so very FRAIL and FAR TOO THIN, Miss Steele. Not like your lazy, greedy sisters who are not as SKINNY as you!

Sorry, I always read these things as humblebrags. It’s the two decades of “subtle” fatphobia in fiction that I’ve endured as an adult that does it.

My father climbed to his feet, grunting at the pain in his leg as he bobbled, but before he could limp toward me, I repeated: “I killed it.”

So, here’s her dad, whom she’s already complained about not protecting her enough or something, standing to face this snarling, violent beast, and she’s like, no! I shall seal my OWN doom!

Granted, if Feyre’s dad told me he killed a caterpillar I would very much doubt it, based on the descriptions provided so far.

Feyre adds the caveat that although she did kill the wolf, she didn’t know it was a fairy and she wouldn’t have killed it if she had.

“Liar,” he snarled. “You knew. You would have been more tempted to slaughter it had you known it was one of my kind.” 

True, true, true. “Can you blame me?”

Wait, what? It’s not at all true that you would have been more tempted to kill it if it were a fairy, Feyre. Faerie, Farrah? You were super worried that the animal might have been a fairy because you didn’t want to kill a fairy and violate the Treaty. There was this long back-and-forth before you shot it, and you had to convince yourself that it was just an animal because you were so afraid of shooting a fairy.

The beast wants to know if the wolf provoked her.

I opened my mouth to say yes, but—“No,” I said, letting out a snarl of my own. “But considering all that your kind has done to us, considering what your kind still likes to do to us, even if I had known beyond a doubt, it was deserved.” Better to die with my chin held high than groveling like a cowering worm.

I am surprised in the extreme that she didn’t end that thought with, “like my shitty, shitty family, whom I am better than in every possible way.”

Is that character growth or characterization oversight?

The firelight shone upon his exposed fangs, and I wondered how they’d feel on my throat, and how loudly my sisters would scream before they, too, died. But I knew—with a sudden, uncoiling clarity—that Nesta would buy Elain time to run. Not my father, whom she resented with her entire steely heart. Not me, because Nesta had always known and hated that she and I were two sides of the same coin, and that I could fight my own battles. But Elain, the flower-grower, the gentle heart … Nesta would go down swinging for her.

So, there is at least some goodness to Nesta. Even if it has to be tempered with, “She’ll only save this ONE person.” I mean. That’s all Donna Noble really asked for, so who are we to expect more?

Finally, Feyre gets around to asking what the punishment is.

His eyes didn’t leave my face as he said, “A life for a life. Any unprovoked attacks on faerie-kind by humans are to be paid only by a human life in exchange.”

Feyre is like, whoops, my bad, because she didn’t know about that part of the Treaty. Which, again, is just weirdly inconsistent with what we know about these people’s lives. That’s a very, very simple clause: kill us, we kill you back. Even if people generally didn’t know all the specific details of the Treaty, that seems like it would be a fairly easy and important one to remember.

“Most of you mortals have chosen to forget that part of the Treaty,” he said, “which makes punishing you far more enjoyable.”

…why? Just because it’s a vaguely sexually-threatening remark that a villain would make? I, and this is just my naive perspective, would like…remind people not to kill my friends, rather than waiting for my friends to die and then torture their killers.

But Feyre tells him fine, kill her, but do it outside where her blood won’t ruin the floor.

“Willing to accept your fate so easily?” When I just stared at him, he said, “For having the nerve to request where I slaughter you, I’ll let you in on a secret, human: Prythian must claim your life in some way, for the life you took from it. So as a representative of the immortal realm, I can either gut you like a swine or… you can cross the wall and live out the remainder of your days in Prythian.”

Wait, is that a secret? Because you said it was in that 500-year-old agreement yous all signed to end that war.

So, in a Rumplestilskenish turn of events, the Beast offers Belle, wait, sorry, no, this unnamed beast offers Feyre a deal: he can kill her now or she can go live in Prythian forever. Which isn’t exactly “the remainder of your days,” so I’m excited to find out exactly what this entails if the author gets around to it and doesn’t contradict it later. 

Feyre’s father, not wanting to see his kid die in front of him, tells her to take the offer.

I didn’t look at him as I said, “Live where? Every inch of Prythian is lethal to us.” I’d be better off dying tonight than living in pure terror across the wall until I met my end in doubtlessly an even more awful way.

This is why Mr. Beast needs to clarify: is it “the remainder of your days” or “forever?” This is like, the first thing I would be asking because the verbiage needs to be real god damn specific with fairies.

“I have lands,” the faerie said quietly–almost reluctantly. “I will grant you permission to live there.”

Her punishment for killing a fairy is…being given land to live on in a magical world.


“Why bother?” Perhaps a fool’s question, but–

RIGHT? That’s what I’m saying. I thought this was “a life for a life,” not, “some land and possibly eternal life depending on which wording we’re going with for a life.”

“You murdered my friend,” the beast snarled. “Murdered him, skinned his corpse, sold it at the market, and then said he deserved it, and yet you have the nerve to question my generosity?”

Yeah, because you’re acting like a goofy dipstick. She killed your friend, so the revenge you’re taking is whisking her away from the family she despises? She’s gonna fucking love this, bro.

Feyre points out the obvious plot hole here and that’s, you know, that he didn’t have to mention that he didn’t have to kill her, and he gets offended that humans have “such low opinions” about fairies. Which, you know. I guess? But it sounds like yous fairies are doing a lot of nasty killing.

Oh my god. Oh no. No, no, no. I just realized that this is going to slowly slide into pro-capitalist, pro-colonist, pro-military fantasy in which the evil beings in power are actually the good guys and the oppressed have made all their own problems for themselves. It’s going to happen. I feel it. And it feels slimy.

“Let me make this clear for you, girl: you can either come live at my home in Prythian—offer your life for the wolf’s in that way—or you can walk outside right now and be shredded to ribbons. Your choice.”

Right here is where Feyre should call bullshit. She should be like, “If you were gonna kill me, you would have by now. You seem real damn squeamish about it, so I’m guessing you have no follow-through.”

And THAT is why I will definitely be brutally murdered after taunting a serial killer for his lack of commitment.

Feyre’s father offers the beast gold in exchange for Feyre’s life, and the beast tries to take the shaking, crumbling high ground:

The beast sneered. “How much is your daughter’s life worth to you? Do you think it equates to a sum?”

Technically, you’re the one putting the price on her life, dude. And the sum equals one dead wolf.

Nesta still had Elain held behind her, Elain’s face so pale it matched the snow drifting in from the open door. But Nesta monitored every move the beast made, her brows lowered. She didn’t bother to look at my father—as if she knew his answer already.

What does this mean? I can’t figure out what this answer supposedly is gonna be. Is it gonna be, “IDK, $4.99?” Is Nesta hoping her father will put a price on Feyre’s life? Is she checking to make sure it’s not too expensive? Is Elain gonna start shouting suggestions like she’s in the audience of The Price is Right?

When my father didn’t reply, I dared another step toward the beast, drawing his attention to me. I had to get him out—get him away from my family. From the way he’d brushed away my knife, any hope of escaping lay in somehow sneaking up on him. With his hearing, I doubted I’d get a chance anytime soon, at least until he believed I was docile. If I tried to attack him or fled before then, he would destroy my family for the sheer enjoyment of it. Then he would find me again. I had no choice but to go.

He knows where you live. He can always come back, no matter how long you wait before you flee. I’m not saying “don’t save your family,” just don’t frame it as some kind of strategic move where you’ll escape later because it’s still gonna backfire.

As long as the faeries couldn’t find me again, they couldn’t hold me to the Treaty. Even if it made me a cursed oath-breaker.

They found you the first time. Don’t you think they could find you again? And as I said before, you may recall, this beast thing knows where your family lives.

But in going with him, I would be breaking the most important promise I’d ever made. Surely it trumped an ancient treaty that I hadn’t even signed.

Well, that’s not how Treaties work. They’re kind of a “one person signs for everyone” deal. But also, this is still fulfilling your promise to your mother. You’re keeping your father and sisters from being eaten by a monster.

The beast finds the ash arrow and breaks it and throws it into the fireplace and is basically like, get in, loser, we’re going to Prythian.

The beast paced in the doorway.

HOW?! He’s got elk antlers and he’s the size of a horse. How wide is this door? Is the front of the whole tiny cottage just wide ass open like a dollhouse?

I didn’t want to contemplate where I was going or what he would do with me. Running would be foolish until it was the right time. 

There won’t be a right time if you’re doing this to save your family. He’ll just go back and kill them. I mean, while he’s standing there going, oh, poor me, you think I don’t have any morals just because I’m actively kidnapping you, so I’m not sure he’s 100% honorable. I think it’s reasonable to assume he would take his revenge on your family.

Feyre instructs her father on how to ration out the venison and tells him where she left the money. She also advises him on where to hunt and tells him that her FWB will teach him how to make rabbit snares.

How do her sisters react to the fact that Feyre is leaving?

Elain mouthed my name but kept cowering, kept her head down. So I turned to Nesta, whose face was so similar to my mother’s, so cold and unrelenting. 

Ah. Not brave enough and just downright mean. But that’s okay. Our selfless heroine has advice about domestic violence:

“Whatever you do,” I said quietly, “don’t marry Tomas Mandray. His father beats his wife, and none of his sons do anything to stop it.” Nesta’s eyes widened, but I added, “Bruises are harder to conceal than poverty.”

I stopped at this part when I was reading it and really thought about whether or not I’d comment on it in this recap. I’m not sure if it’s just me; I feel like I’m hyper-sensitized to stereotypes or stigma around domestic violence in fiction because of all the horrible books we’ve read together, dear patrons. But something about it strikes me as…shaming? Like, suggesting her sister should be ashamed of these hypothetical bruises? Like I said, might just be me, especially since I’ve had such a hard time expressing it in words.

I guess martyrdom isn’t its own reward, because Feyre has to depart with another comment on how callous her sisters are:

 Nesta stiffened but said nothing—both of my sisters said absolutely nothing—as I turned toward the open door.

This is one of those things where they couldn’t win, no matter what. If they cried or begged her not to go, she’d be like, oh, well, you didn’t care about me before, or she’d go, my terrible sisters only want me to stay to be their servant. Characters who get so mired down in self-pity that no one can ever say or do the right thing around them are exhausting to read and, frankly, to write. I should know; I feel like I fall into that trap a lot. But I really, really hope it’s never to this extent.

“Feyre,” my father said. His fingers trembled as he grasped my gloved hands, but his eyes became clearer and bolder than I’d seen them in years. “You were always too good for here, Feyre. Too good for us, too good for everyone.”

Usually you have to perform three posthumous miracles to obtain sainthood but I guess Feyre’s dad is gonna canonize her right here, huh?

What in the fanfiction? “Too good for everyone?” Did everyone in the village clap? Did you put up your middle finger at the preps who stared at you?

Too good for everyone.

Come on.

Too good for everyone.

“If you ever escape, ever convince them that you’ve paid the debt, don’t return.” 

I hadn’t expected a heart-wrenching good-bye, but I hadn’t imagined this, either. 

He said you were “too good for everyone” and that’s not heart-wrenching enough for you? I’m sorry, this character must be unlikeable on purpose. I haven’t gone poking around on GoodReads so I’m unsure if this is a commonly-held thing among fans, like, “I love the book despite hating Feyre” or something? How could it not be? How can anyone enjoy this character? Did one of you warn me about this and I just forgot?

“Don’t ever come back,” my father said, releasing my hands to shake me by the shoulders. “Feyre.” He stumbled over my name, his throat bobbing. “You go somewhere new—and you make a name for yourself.”

Yeah, Feyre. If you ever escape, make sure to get real famous so they find you. Maybe that’s her dad’s plan with this whole “you’re too good for everyone” speech. He’s like, maybe if I convince her she’s so lofty and above us, we’ll never have to see her again.

I’d never told my father of the promise I’d made my mother, and there was no use explaining it now.

Then, she leaves with the beast. I included that vow line because it comes up again in chapter five.

Elk horns. JFC.

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  1. Karin from the Netherlands
    Karin from the Netherlands

    As I was reading this, I was like, I swear I read this before. And I’m not a patreon member.

    So I used the search option, and lo and behold, you did upload part 4 when you planned to. Yay!

    Only one missing is 17 is. Which looks kinda like a 4 upside down, so I guess that’s the mix-up? It would be a mistake I’d make, so I can relate.

    December 30, 2023
    • BBkat

      Nope, chapter 17 is here as well

      All the chapters are here, it’s that chapters 29 and 30 are out of order as Jenny mistakenly uploaded ch 30 instead of 29, so when reading through it goes 28, 30, 29. But no, all the chapters are here is you scroll back.

      December 30, 2023
      • BBkat

        So apparently clicking the posting date and the ‘comments’ buttons on a post gives you two VERY different links, and the posting date gives you all the posts for that month.
        Whoops. Anyways, zionastar has the right link, mine just links to, all of October.

        December 30, 2023
  2. Al

    I mean I’m down to re-discuss this chapter if anyone else is… is there anything new about this scene now that we know about the Nesta twist? Actually, now that we know the whole plot behind ACoTaR… I feel like this makes even *less* sense?

    December 30, 2023
    • Noni Musse
      Noni Musse

      This whole book was so stupid it could hardly make MORE sense. It definitely cements Feyre’s unlikeable-ness, though. And Maas’s affinity for nonsense: curly elk horns, a horse-sized creature pacing in a doorway, even the cat-dog hybrid fairy. I mean, without their heads, there isn’t a huge difference between the external appearances of (preternaturally large) cats and dogs. Maybe the tail? But there is such a variety of possible coats and physical builds from both sides that it seems like a strange detail to include. However, I can definitely see mentioning the contrast of it *looking* like a wolf (with curly horns!!) while *moving* like a cat. I think that would be more interesting, and more unnerving for humans. Instead, it comes off like the mashup of a kindergartner.

      December 31, 2023
      • Ken Shinn
        Ken Shinn

        Heh. I read your comment and the lyrics pop unbidden into my head: ‘One fine day, with a woof and a purr, a baby was born and it caused quite a stir…’

        This book is over-elaborate CatDog fanfic. CHANGE MY MIND!

        January 2, 2024
        • ShifterCat

          It’s Puppycat!

          January 4, 2024
    • ShifterCat

      I’m remembering how many of Feyre’s character beats would make more sense if she were the OLDEST daughter, not the youngest: her insistence on staying in the room while her father was beaten, her mother extracting a promise to take care of everyone else, her obligation to the provider role, her apparent desire to shield her sisters from responsibility while resenting them for being “spoiled”, etc.

      Seriously, it’s hard to imagine even a sickness-addled mother summoning her *youngest* child and telling her to look after the others, especially if the children are all of the same sex.

      But despite supposedly being a such a fairy tale buff, SJM has somehow managed to absorb only the most superficial aspects, and almost all fairy tales focus on the youngest child.

      January 4, 2024
      • Mab

        Well, we can’t go and have this story make sense! But yes, so many issues could be resolved just by making Fay the oldest. But, like you said, SJM is very surface level and I’m pretty sure Cinderella’s step-sisters were older than her and she had to take care of them so… yeah.

        Are we sure Maas isn’t actually a ChatBot that someone just typed “fairy tales” into and this book was the result? Because almost everything in this book seems to be taken from various fairytales, but not in a way that actually fits or makes sense.

        January 5, 2024
  3. Razwick

    It is deeply hilarious to me that as I started reading this I got a notification that my mother mentioned me in a comment on Instagram, and I went to check it and it’s on a post from “Elkhorn resort”

    January 14, 2024

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