The moment Erin has been waiting for is finally here! We are talking all about A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas today and Erin has lots to say. With this being Erin’s favourite author and series, Ashli is not surprised and was happy to take the backseat on this one to let Erin rant. But in all honesty, this book has a lot to talk about and we really only scratch the surface. Both of us loved it and can give it a 5/5 on the star rating scale. As always, we can’t wait to see what Maas brings us next.
“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.”
E: I don’t even know where to start this. We waited so long for ACOSF and now it's here, we’ve read it.
I think one thing to say right off the bat is: there is a lot of hate out there for Nesta. And in the previous books, I was in camp “Nesta sucks”. She’s mean, abrasive, cold and condescending. Someone pointed out though, that were she a male, she would have been portrayed as aloof, damaged, brooding, complicated. And that’s where I started to see Nesta in a new light.
A: I will admit to being a Nesta hater for a while as well. But I hated Feyre’s family in general because of the way they treated her. That’s the interesting thing about how character point of views work. We hated them because we saw them from Feyre’s pov and saw how hurt she was/ how she saw them in the long run. Now that we have it from Nesta’s perspective it is easier to understand her because we are getting her side of the story. As always though… who do we believe/ root for? Nesta is still responsible for her lack of action after the passing of her mother. And we don’t get a good reason for why Nesta and their mother hated Feyre so much.
E: Nesta suffers from depression and PTSD. She has seen her father whom she hated, killed in front of her before they could reconcile. She watches war take place where she has never been subjected before to that kind of horror. The male she is afraid to love almost dies repeatedly. And to cope with this suffering Nesta drinks herself into a stupor and takes men home to her bed. Her shabby, slum of a home. Now, this is where the story jumps off and where I have my first eye roll of the book (don't get my wrong I love this book). Her family is so “concerned” about appearances that they cannot allow her to continue her self-destruction. Not because it's dangerous behaviour but because it's embarrassing. Following her gambling/drinking spree, Feyre and Rhysand cut her off completely, destroy her home and send her to a war camp full of misogynistic Illayrians. The book holds a lot of gems on Nesta’s journey of healing, however, I feel like her family really fell short. At every turn there’s Amren telling her she looks like shit, Mor saying she should be thrown to the court of nightmares (where she was abused for years) and Rhysand is full of nothing but loathing for her. And then at the end of the day they tell her they're doing all of this out of love. Honestly the only kernel of advice that wasn’t total crap was “keep reaching out your hand”. Even though it seems almost all of them used that helping hand to slap her in the face.
A: I’m about to play devil’s advocate. I am not sure that the Night Court cut her off and stopped her just because of embarrassment. It might have helped them with their decision as to when to act, but I have the feeling that it was fully because Nesta was not getting any better. We see it in our own world with addictions and ptsd and depression. People who care about their loved ones wait and see and hope that they will come out of their “funk” on their own. But once it gets too far and too long, they take action. I think the Court could have taken action quicker but I also feel that they are slightly afraid of Nesta. As to how Mor and Amren treated her… we are getting this from Nesta’s point of view. This is possibly just how Nesta took their comments and we might not have seen the whole picture, similarly to how we only saw what Feyre saw in people from her perspective in the first 3.5 books. We also can’t forget that we don’t know all about Amren and Mor yet, especially Amren. Once again, similar to why we all hated Nesta from the get go of the series.
E: I can see your points. There was a lot of build up to the fallout of cutting her off. It wasn't that single incident that did her in for them. Though Rhysand did discuss how disrespectful it was to spend their money and that it was the last straw when they were a well established family. That was the issue I took. Where they were saying it was for her benefit but they were making it about how they felt, how Nesta’s decision impacted their lives.
A: How I saw it was Rhysand not doing a good job with his wording in an attempt to show Nesta that her actions also had an impact on other people. But he definitely didn’t do it very well with his wording which I will agree on.
E: I found this book very similar to ACOMAF. There is a severely damaged young woman who finds herself and goes on a healing journey while falling in love. There are items important to the politics of the book to go searching for. There are monsters to battle. An evil force to overthrow.
A: Isn’t that just all the books in a series like this? I mean, Veronica Mars (tv show) follows a similar thing where every season is “big crime, mini crimes while we work on solving big crimes, love drama”. Series of Unfortunate Events.. Each book is “what puzzles do we solve while finding out which character is Count Olaf so we can stop him from getting his hands on the fortune”. I think that is unavoidable in a series that is longer running which is why I like stand alones or trilogies best.
E: That’s fair. I was sort of disappointed at first when this book was announced. ACOWAR ended well so I wanted to leave it there instead of possibly dragging it out. I'm so glad she wrote it, though !
E: What I really related to with Nesta was the way she handled her emotions. She’s cold and unforgiving which I understand. It's a protective barrier she places over herself in order to keep herself from getting hurt. Furthermore, she pushes people away with her anger and attitude (been there). She is a woman completely beaten down by her own thoughts of self-worth. I found myself in tears because her thoughts towards herself echoed ones I have felt myself. She also feels uncomfortable in general with feelings and uses anger as a fall back, which I totally understand. When we first met her I hated all of this about her and I really had to examine why. And then I saw how I do similar things (though my bitch level is not up to hers, quite). Trauma does things to you and shapes who you are, what you believe about yourself. This book is comprehensive in that we can see how it all began for Nesta with a mother made of cold steel. Her childhood was clearly traumatizing. She was a pawn for her mother to move around the chessboard rather than a child to love. Coupled with being abused by men and forced into a world she grew up hating, its no wonder Nesta is damaged. I could go on and on about Nesta and her suffering. What I loved about SJM was how she took that suffering on a journey of healing that was 700+ pages. It wasn't fixed by the love of a man. It wasn't fixed by giving Nesta something to fight for. Nesta had to go inside herself and deal with all that pain. She wasn’t “cured” by the end of the book. She did the work and had tools to help her manage her trauma, and begin to see life as something worth living.
A: This journey really made this book for me. I could say that it was a mental health guidebook when I needed an excuse to curl up and read it because it really was. Sometimes we just need to see fictional characters going through things that we ourselves are going through in order to help with healing. The breathing techniques that Nesta and Gwyn worked through as per the Valkyrie guide are now part of my daily practice. Seeing Nesta gaining her strength helped push me along with my continued journey of gaining my own strength.
E: One thing I wish we saw more of was Nesta’s power. We catch glimpses of it in her eyes. The way others speak about her as pure Death. The scorched hand print she leaves in the stone. She honestly is more powerful than Rhysand, but she doesn't have much chance to display it. There was the epic battle at the Prison, and the way she handles each of the Trove items. I just wish we had seen more of her and all this power before it was given back to the Cauldron.
A: I agree fully on that. I wanted to see Nesta with the items more as well as I am a D&D player and magic items are soooo much fun to play with. But I actually loved that we focused so much more on her natural power and how she developed it. I think it makes it much easier to obtain for those of us reading. We aren’t going to be finding magical items in the real world, so developing our mental and physical powers the best we can is great to see and get tips on.
E: Then there's the matter of Nessian. I am HERE for Cassian. It did not help that my husband is dark skinned and currently sporting hair to his shoulders. I kept asking him to do pushups and throw me a sarcastic remark so my Cassian-for-a-husband-fantasies could come true. SJM really upped her smut in this book, since it is adult instead of YA. There is a lot of controversy surrounding her sex scenes and I hoenstly dont know why. There are a million sex scenes in books out here and hers are just fine. I certainly got hot while reading, and looked around to make sure people couldn’t tell :P
A: The sex scenes actually almost ruined the book for me. Mainly because I am not that sexual of a person and I find them hard to read or watch in basically any situation (as we discussed in our blog post about Kingdom of the Wicked). But what I love about Maas is that the sex scenes are not always so crucial to the plot. I can skim over them faster than other scenes and still know what is going on in the long run. By skimming them, I still get the idea of the relationship between Nesta and Cassian, but I don’t have to linger in my personal discomfort. As to their relationship, I love how it is so realistic with their on and off again admittance of their feelings.
E: Good point Ash, not everyone is down for the adult content. It definitely was front and centre, but there were a lot of other things about their relationship that I loved. While their love story had its ups and downs, I loved it. I loved Cassian to a new level. His vulnerability, feelings of unworthiness were so damn endearing. He wants to be loved so badly, wears his heart on his sleeve for all to see. And when it's broken and ripped apart, he will humble himself and ask for more.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Valkyrie aspect of the story, and Nesta developing her friendships. It was an integral part of her healing, to find herself worthy of friendship. I loved these women and the bond they forged through the different trials they experienced.
A: The Valkyrie aspect was everything for me. I loved seeing this all female group of powerful warrior women completely triumph over the men who put them down. It was so great to see parts of their stories about how they were traumatized in life. We really got to see different reasons for ptsd and mental health trauma and how each woman individually found a way to push through and become better women because of it.
E: Also. The House. I want that damn House. I cant believe SJM made me fall in love with what should be simple real estate but here we are.
A: Now you know how I feel about the freaking mail otters in Crescent City! But same here… a house that would know what I needed before I do and basically mother me would be amazing. Especially if there was a library! What tea would you say the house would be giving you while you read this book? For me, I think it would be drawing me a bubble bath and handing me a cup of caffeine free calming tea for sure to help my anxiety during the sexy scenes.
E: I think for me, who is all for the sex scenes I would want the House to supply a good cup of milky chai. The sweet and spicy aromas would go perfectly with Nesta and Cassian.
And that's it for us for now! We have lots of fun stuff planned so stay tuned and tell all of your bookish friends. Your recommendations and shares really make us smile and helps others find some amazing book recs. See you next time, until then stay cozy!