Author: Sarah J. Maas
Narrator: Stina Nielsen
Audiobook Length: 26 hours 5 minutes
Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.
The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.
Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.
Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.
After following along with Feyre Archeron in the first three novels as the main character in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, A Court of Silver Flames, switches to her sister, Nesta Archeron. Although she was a featured character in the original trilogy (and novella), Maas did not go into a lot of depth about this character. Therefore, I was excited to finally see more from Nesta considering she is not the most likable one in the series. I enjoyed her as there always seemed to be more to her than meets the eye, but she was typically overshadowed by the other characters. The story not only follows Nesta, but also Cassian as their world continues to deal with the fallout of the war with Hybern.
Nesta experiences with multiple mental health struggles, including PTSD and depression. Along with her alcohol abuse and grief, she has a lot that she is dealing with at the beginning of this story and the reader can finally get to know her more. Feyre and Rhysand want Nesta to start moving forward instead of being so self-destructive, so Nesta ends up at the House of Winds to train with Cassian. Nesta eventually makes friends with Gwyn, a priestess from the library, and Emerie, an Illyrian from Windhaven. The three of them were all facing their own battles while balancing a nice friendship with each other.
I find myself getting used to Maas’s writing as there are many phrases that she loves to overuse and there are sometimes too many details, which is a rare criticism from me as a reader. At first, I preferred if the story was tightened up a little and streamlined to flow a little more; however, I am not used to it and could not read it any other way. Something interesting I noticed in this story is that the more Maas attempted to highlight Nesta and Cassian, the worse Feyre and Rhys looked. Rhys almost did a 180 in this novel as he was not very likable compared to the more lovable character from the previous stories.
Nesta and Cassian developed a nice romance over time as Cassian was patient in trying to understand Nesta. They have excellent banter and challenge each other, which makes their relationship have a nice balance. The portion that did not hit me right in Cassian’s behavior and everyone else was the treatment of Nesta’s weight. She lost a lot while dealing with her traumas and, for me, this was not handled with a lot of care. Considering the care put into the exploration of grief, PTSD, and depression, it was disappointing that the weight portion was not given the same treatment. Nesta’s growth also did not quite land with me as there is a moment towards the end that does not make sense as it puts the blame on her when it should not be. While these pieces did not work for me, I still loved how Maas gave some depth to Nesta’s character and I still enjoyed reading it.
Overall, this is a very character-driven novel that is slow-paced and takes its time to introduce everything. There are plots, such as Queen Briallyn, the mortal-turned-fae Queen, Rhys and Feyre’s relationship, and many other smaller ones. There are multiple throughout the story, but the focus primarily stays on Nesta and Cassian’s individual journeys and their growing relationship. I am curious where Maas will go with the next story as it is set to be another spin-off story, similar to this one, but I do not believe the exact main character has been announced yet. No matter which character is next, I cannot wait to read it!