“A nightmare, I’d told Tamlin. I was the nightmare.”
I had really high hopes for this, like really high, and I did enjoy it, but I can’t help being reminded that this was nothing close to the perfection that ACOMAF was. My reading experience was honestly reminiscent to Harry Potter, because I was fangirling every other page, while squealing and giggling and rolling around on my bed like I was twelve again! And when I saw that the prologue was in Rhysand’s point of view, I did the longest yeah boy ever. Big shout out to Paloma for putting up with my thirsty self, because she’s the best and her Snapchats gave me life throughout our read through! ❤
Yet, when I turned that last page a wave of disappointment and apprehension hit me, and it hit me hard. There was some really bad feeling plot fixes that were really forced, unbelievable, and convenient. Then, which I will never fault an author for trying to put diversity and representation in her cast, but Sarah J. Maas made it feel really inauthentic and exploitative, I’m not going to lie. I also feel like she added so many side characters and side plots to further advance the spin-offs that are going to start coming in 2018. Also, anyone else feeling some Swan Lake retelling vibes?
The one thing that I didn’t enjoy, but I’m sure many of my friends and followers will enjoy, is that there was a lot less sex in this book. Like, that first sex scene hit, and I was like “okay” and that was really the only major sex scene throughout this 700 page book. Like, they spoke about sex, and gave little tidbits of small sex scenes here and there, and for sure alluded to having sex a lot, but it was nothing close to the erotic things that ACOMAF and EoS had inside them. Nowhere freakin’ close.
This is the first conclusion we’ve ever had from Sarah J. Maas and I am overall very happy with this very loose retelling of Snow White. I don’t want you guys to think I hated this or anything, because I obviously didn’t and a three star rating is still good! I just expected this to end up on my “best books of 2017” list, like both ACOTAR (2015) and ACOMAF (2016) did, and I’m not so sure that it will.
Also, a lot of people were hurt and offended by some acephobia in the ACOWAR preview chapters, surrounding Hybern’s niece and nephew that were very much involved with each other (yeah, think Jamie and Cersei). I completely see both sides of this argument and, again, your opinions and feelings are completely valid, but I feel like it’s very important to note that there is a discussion going on around this, especially to all my ace friends and followers, because I never want to see any of you harmed or hurt, especially not by problematic material in books.
The rest of my review is going to contain MAJOR SPOILERS for both ACOTAR, ACOMAF, and this book, ACOWAR! Please, do not proceed to read any further unless you have read this book and its predecessors or you wish to be spoiled!
“I repeated their names silently, over and over into the darkness. Rhysand. Mor. Cassian. Amren. Azriel. Elain. Nesta.”
Okay, let’s just talk about the characters and how they made me feel for a minute:
➽ Feyre (The Night Court) – Feyre is such a well developed character. Seeing everything she’s gone through, and how much she’s grown, it is just incredible. I loved how she dismantled the Spring Court. I loved when she fell to her knees when she saw Rhysand. I loved how she picked her sisters over everything. I loved Feyre in this, and I most loved that by the end of this trilogy she loved herself.
➽ Rhysand (The Night Court) -My heart, my soul, my body, my everything. If I could have one book boyfriend, I would pick Rhysand every fucking time. No contest, no questioning, nothing, I’d pick Rhysand instantly. Boys, read this book and study this man! I think most girls can agree he is the closest thing to perfection in this world. His banter, his sense of humor, his selflessness, his devotion, his unconditional love, his patience, his determination, everything. When we would be reminded how he taught Feyre to read, I can’t even describe that feeling. Sarah J. Maas was so smart to write that, because all of us as book and reading lovers can relate to how empty a world would feel without reading, and Rhysand gave that to her! Ah, I can’t. I have no words, other than Rhysand is perfection.
➽ Cassian (The Night Court) – The light of my life and everything that is good in this world. Cassian made this book so enjoyable for me. He had so many good quotes, too! I couldn’t believe how hard he won me over, but I was swooning for him throughout this entire book!
➽ Azriel (The Night Court) – Azriel, as much as I do like him, is going to cause Lucien so much pain and suffering. I mean, I feel really bad for him because of Mor, and I desperately want him to find someone, but the future is looking pretty bleak for him, I’m not going to lie. Maybe the girl that he and Feyre saved will end up being his mate. I mean, that would seem random for Sarah J. Maas if she didn’t end up playing a bigger role, and we know how much she likes pairing people off.
➽ Morrigan/Mor (The Night Court) – Or maybe that girl will end up with Mor! You know that exploitative feeling I was talking about at the start of my review? Yeah, it’s right here. Mor is now a lesbian, which would have made such a powerful impact on me if it didn’t feel fake and forced. Again, I’m not going to fault anyone for trying to have more representation in their books, especially not someone like Sarah J. Maas who needs more representation in their books, but this didn’t feel authentic to me whatsoever. Also, there was that scene where everyone was pretty much like “Yeah! I’m bisexual, too!” and that felt really condescending and borderline offensive to me. I’m very curious to see what everyone else thinks about Mor’s development. Also, Rhys’ interactions with Mor in this book were not okay. He treated Mor badly in this book. Not only did he end up making her feel unsafe at the meeting with her father, ultimately making her feel unsafe in her own home, but he also made her sit through all that abuse when the High Lords met up. Both scenes were honestly hard to stomach, and completely abusive and not okay.
➽ Amren (The Night Court) – I felt a little baited by Amren at the end. Not the question if she was bad or not, I never really thought that, but when she came out of the cauldron with Rhys, I thought she was a human! So I was like “oh my gosh, how is this going to work now that she’s weaker than she was, and she’s going to age and everything?” And then Rhys is like “Well, she’s still a high fae and I’m sure she will develop a new power!” And I’m like…. Okay, I was dumb.
➽ Varian (The Summer Court) – Varian and Amren’s romance was everything! When she came out of the tent wearing his shirt, I lost it. I loved that they found happiness with each other, and I love than Varian begged her but ultimately supported her decision to save everyone. Relationship goals, you all.
➽ Nesta – I love when an author makes me feel very vast and different things for a character, and I will give Sarah J. Maas all the props in the world for Nesta. I really thought she was being so unfair and hard towards Feyre, especially after everything Feyre has done for her family, but it ended up working out for me. I loved that Nesta was connected to the cauldron, because she refused to not take something from it. I loved how she didn’t just swoon and fall all over hot ass Cassian instantly, because I’m not sure I would have that same strength. I loved how she forgave and accepted the love her sister wanted to give her all along. I loved the scene with her, Feyre, and Elain all curled up together, because I love books about siblings being close and having that unconditional love with each other. I’m so happy they found it, and I can’t wait to read more about it in future spin-offs. When Nesta laid down on top of Cassian, I had to put my book down and walk around my house for like fifteen minutes, because I couldn’t deal. It was perfect and if I could have any spin-off I would pick Cassian and Nesta.
➽ Elain – Like, when that human boy told her he’d never love her, just because she’s fae now, my heart broke. I don’t know why that felt so real to me, but that hit me way harder than it should have. I guess it is just the young girl in me, remembering how you think your first love will be your only love, and then getting slapped with the realization that that isn’t ever close to being true, but yeah, I felt that scene. I loved that Elain is a seer, and I can’t wait to see how that develops further with the spin-offs. Also, give me that good Lucien angst, please.
➽ Lucien – First and foremost, I loved who really was Lucien’s dad. Like, that was a plot twist that I loved and wasn’t expecting at all! Now, more Dawn Court please! It also gives me all the hope in the world that Lucien will get a spin-off. Also, I’m really curious to learn more about Lucien’s past and about Jesminda.
➽ Tamlin (The Spring Court) – I am not excusing his or anyone else’s abuse, ever, but my favorite part of this book was when Tamlin told Feyre to be happy. Take that information and do what you wish with it, but I wouldn’t hate a Tamlin spin-off where he learns how to control the anger and rage inside of him. I never truly ever hated Tamlin, I just fell in love with Rhys the first moment he appeared in ACOTAR.
➽ Alis (The Spring Court) – Beautiful little cinnamon roll! I was so happy that her and those two little boys were in this final installment! I loved her perception, her input, and her constant encouragement. I hope this isn’t the last time we see Alis.
➽ Ianthe (The Spring Court) – Evil bitch from Hell, legitimately the devil incarnate. I loved her death, like, fucking loved it! And I loved the greater discussion on how women can rape and sexually assault men, too. When someone doesn’t want you to touch them, don’t touch them. It’s not a hard concept, and it is something that not just men are guilty of, and I really liked the showcasing of that.
➽ Tarquin (The Summer Court) – I like Tarquin a lot, and I think Sarah J. Maas will further progress his character as the spin-off stories go on. Also, I loved how he mass killed Hybern’s army by drowning them on land.
➽ King of Hybern – He was super rapey in this book. Like, he kept threatening rape constantly and I’m like, “where did this come from?” Also, for being such a powerful and smart leader who has been waiting for his vengeance all these years, he was pretty dumb. Like, he just let a girl walk up and stab him in the back of the neck. Really? Super anticlimactic and chaotic evil villain.
➽ Jurian – I loved his plot-twist and how he was playing secret agent with Hybern. Jurian was, for me, an all around good character, and super enjoyable to read about. And, holy moly, does he have some background stories to tell. I have a strong feeling he and Queen Vassa are going to receive the spin-off, and even though it isn’t my personal first choice, I will totally still read it.
➽ Miryam – Miryam was Jurian’s half-fae ex lover who is talked about pretty frequently in this series. Everyone presumed her dead, but it is revealed that she faked her death so she could live peacefully with Drakon on a hidden island very similar to Velaris! She’s also going to take the cauldron back to hide it with her and Drakon’s people.
➽ Drakon – I love Drakon’s back story on how he was given Miryam as a slave for an arranged marriage gift, and how he let her go to just ultimately fall in love and give up everything for her. Yeah, big fan. Also, him and Miryam totally came and helped save the day in the end, so kudos to both of them.
➽ The Bone Carver – The Bone Carver ended up being one of my favorites from this story. He also opened the door for old gods in this story, and I can’t wait to see how that develops! His death hit me pretty hard, just because I believe he was fully aware of what would happen, yet he sacrificed his life anyway because Feyre was worthy. Please, these tears.
➽ The Weaver – In ACOMAF, I loved the story arc with the Weaver and her house, so I was really excited when it became apparent that she was going to be in this story, too! I cannot believe she is the sister of the Bone Carver, and her actions and emotions during the final battle hit me pretty hard. Again, such a wonderful character that was an absolute treat to read about, especially with Ianthe’s ending.
➽ Bryaxis – Um, I need Bryaxis, Feyre, Nesta, and Elain tea parties right now! I know so little about this mysterious creature, but my heart wept for its seclusion under the library for all those years. I can’t wait to see interactions with Bryaxis and the others!
➽ The Suriel – LITTLE ANGEL THAT WAS TOO GOOD AND PURE FOR THIS WORLD. I thought we would see the Suriel in this final installment, but his death hit me like Dobby from Harry Potter. I was not prepared and neither were my never ending tears. Seriously, the Suriel was the star of this book.
“I understood why the Suriel had come to help me, again and again. Not just for kindness … but because it was a dreamer. And it was the heart of a dreamer that had ceased beating inside that monstrous chest.”
I guess I’ll move on to some of the plot developments that bothered me. Like, I loved when Lucien went off to on his side quest to find the lost queen and her court, but then Feyre’s dad came and saved the day in the end, with an entire army at his disposal. Like, that felt bad. Didn’t this dude leave his daughters poor and starving? All because he knew a fae war was coming? I don’t buy or believe that what so ever and I completely think Sarah J. Maas killed him off because that would have been such a weird and awkward reunion! I honestly hated that the dad showed up. Hated it. I wish Lucien would have gotten all the glory. Like, it’s cool he brought an army and named his ships after them, but, dude, you weren’t there when your three daughters truly needed you.
Okay, let’s talk about the sexual representation that I started to discuss in Mor’s character break down above. Let me say this extra loud for people in the back: Just because you have or want to have a threesome with someone of the same sex, even though you are only planning to have sex with the opposite sex, it does not make you bisexual. Okay? Okay. That’s such a gross stereotype for bisexuals, regardless. And that scene at the High Lord’s conference/meeting made me cringe so freaking hard, it was actually unreal. Also, I’m not telling anyone how to be a bisexual or a lesbian, but my personal opinion is that Mor is more bi. Like, again, I don’t want to tell people how to feel about their own sexuality – whatever you feel is completely valid – but she has enjoyed sleeping with men for all these years. Also, her telling Feyre she was a lesbian came straight out of left field. Again, it just felt so forced and so condescending to me. I applaud Sarah J. Maas for trying, I really do, but this representation wasn’t well done. Hopefully, in future books, Mor’s sexuality is done better and feels more authentic.
Moving on, how did we not get confirmation that Feyre was pregnant? Like, you all were seeing those constant hints too, right? I would have bet everything I owned that that was how this book was going to end, with her telling Rhys, but it never came and I was so shocked!
Also, when Chapter 76 ended with the line “Rhys was dead” I thought it was real and that’s how this book was going to end, with him sacrificing himself for his people. I was ready to throw my book across the room. I thought he was going to die, and that Feyre was going to be pregnant with his baby and that was going to be his legacy. I am so happy it didn’t happen like that, but I was crying so hard through Chapter 77 that I could barely see. I’m seriously too damn emotionally invested in the fictional character that is Rhysand.
“Every piece of my still-healing heart belonged to him.”
Despite all of the things that bothered me, Sarah J. Maas writes romance really well, like really well. All the people that hate on her can say what they want, but she knows how to write that good angst that makes you completely enthralled and addicted, where you can’t pull away from her stories. I’m not even close to a Sarah J. Maas fangirl, but I’m speaking the truth; she knows how to write romance, and I think that’s why I was disappointed with this book, after being so in love and obsessed with ACOMAF last year. Feyre and Rhys had their romantic build up in ACOMAF, so we didn’t get any of that in ACOWAR! This book was the conclusion, which dealt with war, suffering, repercussion of certain actions, and sacrifices. It didn’t feel as good as seeing a budding, angst-filled, romance developing between Feyre and the most perfect man ever written, Rhysand.
“I would have waited five hundred more years for you. A thousand years. And if this was all the time we were allowed to have … The wait was worth it.”
It also explains why I was so hyped for every scene with Cassian and Nesta, and Lucien and Elain, because those are budding romances that are just starting! And I think me being able to see and understand that helps me a lot with realizing that I did enjoy this book, it just wasn’t everything that I, personally, wanted. It was still a good conclusion, and I’m so thankful and happy that I was able to read it! Again, a three star rating is good, even though I was expecting this to be a five star rating.
I really enjoyed this, and I completely love this trilogy as a whole! I cannot wait to see what else Sarah J. Maas has in store for Pyrithion and beyond! What did you guys think? Do you think it lived up to ACOMAF? Who do you think the first spin-off will be about? My guess is Jurian and Queen Vassa, but I’m praying for Cassian and Nesta. There are truly so many questions and so many discussions to be had! I can’t wait!
I also loved how ACOWAR really brought many book, blogging, and Goodreads communities together, just because of everyone’s love and excitement for this series and for reading in general. That is something pure and special, and something that hasn’t came around for me since Harry Potter. For that, I will always cherish this series and look forward to more being released in this world.
“A gift. All of it.”