My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Almost two weeks after finishing A Court of Silver Flames, the time has finally come for me to share my thoughts on Sarah J. Maas’s latest release. As I draft this review, I’m jumping from idea to idea to try to capture everything I want to say about the fourth installment in the ACOTAR series – I’m getting major flashbacks to my House of Earth & Blood review last March. It’s just a given now that my Sarah J. Maas book reviews are triple the size of my normal book reviews, which is fair being that I break my habit of reading 250-350 page contemporary & romance books to immerse myself in her 700+ page fantasy beasts.
There will be no spoilers for ACOSF within this review, but there will be spoilers for the first three books in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
I don’t think people have necessarily complained about it, but a few of my bookish friends & reviewers that I follow have pointed out that ACOSF is likely the most character-driven book out of all SJM’s novels. For a fantasy read, the plot definitely takes a back seat to Nesta’s personal journey and her relationship with Cassian. I think that ACOSF acts a little bit of a ACOTAR world reset for the upcoming books in the series, in that the world building & plot sets the stage for the rest of the series.
However, you likely know this about me if you’ve caught on to my reading tastes, but the combination of character growth and plot in ACOSF was the PEFECT blend of relationships meets plot for me. Honestly, I’ve read less and less fantasy over the past two years because I’ve realized that I care way more about character development and relationships in most of my fantasy reads than I do plot and trying to navigate between action and connecting the plot points. My love for ACOSF and SJM’s books as a whole really results from the fact that while there are complicated magic systems & plots involved, she just makes it so digestible and easy to understand.
You likely know this from my reading tastes too, but it’s no surprise that my favorite part of ACOSF was Nesta and Cassian’s relationship…and yes that includes all the romance. I was putting books on hold from the library a few nights ago and was curious to see how many people had put ACOSF on hold – side note that I bought my own copy of the Barnes & Noble edition and that all 10 county library copies were either checked out or being transferred to patrons – and I was shocked to see that ACOSF is listed still as YA. As a side note, ACOTAR and ACOSF are now being marketed as adult fantasy, which has been made helped the book’s cover changes. As per usual with some of SJM’s covers, I like ACOSF’s cover a lot more in person and it makes sense given the plot in the book, but it’s still not necessarily a favorite book cover of mine and leaves me wanting something more? I think in general even the first three ACOTAR books shouldn’t be considered YA (hellooooooo chapter 55 of ACOMAF), but ACOSF IS NOT YA because of the romance scenes.
But again, let’s be clear: I loved the romance scenes and honestly any scene involving Cassian and Nesta! Their sarcasm and ease with one another was so fun to read, alongside their more serious moments involving some conflicts. I really think that SJM has really nailed the balance between romance and relationship development between ACOSF and House of Earth and Blood alone. This balance is definitely seen in the first 3 ACOTAR books and the Throne of Glass series as well, but SJM’s latest two releases have a more mature take.
You might’ve picked this up for excitement about ACOSF over the past few years, since I’ve repeatedly noted that I love Nesta, but ACOSF received even more points in my book because I am way more of a Nesta fan than Feyre fan. Don’t get me wrong, Feyre obviously goes on such an incredible journey in the first 3 ACOTAR books – throwback to when I thought Tamlin and Feyre were meant to be a thing when I first read ACOTAR – but I just click so much more with Nesta. Of course, I did enjoy being back with Feyre, Rhysand, and the rest of the Night Court. This book made me really want more from Azriel and Mor – I’m assuming they’re each getting their own books? – and even Elain. If I had to choose, I’d want to read a book from Azriel first, purely because there is so much set-up about figuring out more about his character in ACOSF and I’m admittedly confused about who his love interest will be (I have at least two, potentially three, contenders in my mind). I’m also still deciding how I feel about a certain secret being kept within the Night Court..
To say the least, Nesta completely transforms form page one to very end of the ACOSF. I figured that this book would be about Nesta overcoming her demons and trying to figure out how to be part of the Night Court, but I would’ve never guessed how she is still so haunted by being put in the Cauldron, turning into a Fae, and the death of her father. I found myself revisiting these scenes in ACOMAF and ACOWAR, along with any scene involving her and Cassian. Her emotions and trauma in this book makes so much sense given the snippets of her emotion we get in those books. While we definitely get more Nesta than Cassian, I also loved following along Cassian and getting to understand more his role in the Night Court and his past. This might sound random, but I actually really liked having the book told in the third person perspective vs. getting Feyre’s first person perspective.
Female riendship has really become a hallmark of SJM’s books, between Aelin and Lyssandra in ToG, Bryce and Danika in Crescent City, and even Feyre’s dynamic with Mor and Ameren Another side note, and maybe blame my 757 page book post brain, but did we ever find out what went down between Amren and Nesta that hurt their friendship? However, female friendship is absolutely one of the best parts of ACOSF. Nesta, Emerie, and Gwyn form such an incredible bond. I’m really hoping to see more of their dynamic and Emerie and Gwyn come more into play in the upcoming books. And while talking about friendship, I also can’t help but mention Nesta’s bond with the House of Wind because their relationship (with the help of a few romance books of course) was also such a huge support for Nesta.
I watched about the first twenty minutes of Sarah J. Maas’ Instagram Live with Stephanie from Ideally Inspired Reads last week, but she mentioned that the second Crescent City book will likely be released in 2022 and there’s no official word on the timeline for the remaining A Court of Thorns and Roses books. SJM did say as a general rule to not pay attention to release dates on Goodreads, but to instead watch her social channels for official release dates. Is anyone else also like me and still has their fingers crossed for The World of Throne of Glass/peek at the ToG world ten years after Kingdom of Ash??
While I wish we did get more than 1 SJM book a year – by no means I am complaining and having read and followed SJM for the past 6 years, I realize how much time, energy, and planning goes into all of her books – , A Court of Silver Flames of course proved that SJM’s books are more than worth the wait. While yes, I did reread A Court of Frost and Starlight before jumping into ACOSF and found myself going back to pivotal Nesta scenes in A Court of Mist and Fury & A Court of War and Ruin, I am so, so impressed how Sarah J. Maas can easily put readers back into her worlds no matter how long it’s been since we last united with her characters.
I typically like to do an entire series reread to do this, but I am here to confirm in the conclusion of this review that A Court of Silver Flames may just be my favorite book in the ACOTAR series. It’s a close call between ACOSF and ACOMAF. I’ve loved Nesta and Cassian in ACOMAF, from getting to know the former more in ACOMAF and meeting the latter in ACOMAF, and really just enjoy the plot of the second book in general…. So maybe I do need to do a reread of the two to pick my absolute #1 favorite??
Overall, ACOSF was such a joy to read. This book reminded me so much of why I love SJM’s books. I loved getting to be back in this series through Nesta and Cassian’s perspectives, and I am so excited to see this series continue.
Have you read A Court of Silver Flames yet? What are you thoughts? Favorite book in the series? Favorite SJM series? Share in the comments!