My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Length: 229 pages
Release date: 1 May 2018
The Winter Solstice. In a week. I was still new enough to being High Lady that I had no idea what my formal role was to be. If we’d have a High Priestess do some odious ceremony, as lanthe had done the year before. A year. Gods, nearly a year since Rhys had called in his bargain, desperate to get me away from the poison of the Spring Court to save me from my despair. Had he been only a minute later, the Mother knew what would have happened. Where I’d now be. Snow swirled and eddied in the garden, catching in the brown fibers of the burlap covering the shrubs My mate who had worked so hard and so selflessly, all without hope that I would ever be with him We had both fought for that love, bled for it. Rhys had died for it.
It should be a given by now that Sarah J Maas has reached literary superstar status. Bloomsbury will publish anything she writes, because no matter how inane it is, there’s a market of diehard fans who’ll eat it up. Basically, it’s now a matter of how fast she can milk the cash cow that is Feyrhys smut.
I don’t get the point of this novella.
Any work of fiction, from short story to epic, needs a beginning, middle and end. A Court of Frost and Starlight fails to have even the basic structure that would render it a complete story. There’s no climax, no central conflict, barely even a semblance of non-superfluous character development. A few inconsequential conversations are had, SJM trots out her usual litany of empty platitudes straight out of r/im14andthisisdeep, and then the novella ends.
All in all, this this reads like a first draft, and a first draft lazily masking a shameless cash grab at that.
If there’s a silver lining to A Court of Frost and Starlight, it’s that the whole thing is “only” 200-odd pages. That’s 200 pages in which essentially nothing happens, but seeing as SJM gets wordier and wordier with every publication, you know it could get even more mind-numbingly boring than it already is. With the rapid pace at which Maas is churning out at least two huge novels a year, it’s not surprising that editing has been completely tossed out the window. Still a shame, because back when SJM novels were actually edited, they were pretty damn good.
As further evidence that the ACOTAR series has devolved into fan pandering, A Court of Frost and Starlight has legitimately some of the worst sex scenes I have ever read. They are so laughably awful to me, the fact that anyone finds them remotely sexy serves as a strong reminder that people have widely varying tastes. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Feyre and Rhys are ready to strip off their clothes and go at it 24/7; with how horny they are, it’s a wonder they can stay clear-headed long enough to get anything done.
Almost as annoying as the characters’ constant state of arousal is how the entire novella is written for quotability. I find that concept hard to describe, but if you’ve read any of SJM’s more recent works, you’ll know what I mean: every other line has to be a profound grain of wisdom, as if all the dialogue is ripped out of a self-help book. Not even the Bible is this preachy.
The quotability is combined with nearly non-stop virtue signalling. It seems that SJM wants to have her cake and eat it, to write dark, edgy fantasy while simultaneously keeping her favourite characters’ hands’ clean as politically correct paragons. She’s out of her depth whenever she tries to write about the actual ins and outs of politics and governance, and it’s painfully obvious.
But then that’s the problem with authors who describe their characters as geniuses or excellent leaders and are then unable to show them behaving accordingly.
No, I’m sorry, Rhys does not strike me as a particularly effective leader. He’s shown again and again to be unable to control even his own libido, so I have a hard time believing that he can somehow juggle the incredible moral, practical and intellectual demands of his job. Neither does Feyre, who turns 21 in the novella, inspire me as a good decision maker for citizens hundreds of years old. Of course ACOTAR isn’t meant as a template for real life, and I’m sure most readers don’t see it as one, but there’s a certain level of believability I need to buy into the story.
Speaking of Rhys, I just don’t know what to say anymore. Once a chapter, SJM feels the need to remind us that he’s “the most powerful high lord in history,” as if we forgot about the fifty other times she let us know. I did in fact like this character in the first couple novels, and now I try not to cringe every time I see him appear.
I really hope ACOTAR Book 4 has some actual plot in it. There were so many interesting storylines SJM could have followed after A Court of Wings and Ruin that would have been better uses of the time and effort that were wasted on this joke of a novella. I would rather have read about any of Vassa, Jurian, Lucien, Eris or Nesta who, as much of a bitch as she is, still manages to be more interesting than Feyre and Rhys.
I’ll probably keep on picking up SJM novels like those Pavlov’s dogs who couldn’t recognise when the food wasn’t coming anymore. I keep reading in the hope that I’ll find the old SJM, the one who made me fall in love with ACOTAR and ACOMAF, but she’s nowhere to be found.
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