Image courtesy of Bookstacked
By Kat Kaderabek
In the world of young adult fiction, Sarah J. Maas is the equivalent of Tony Hawk in skateboarding. As one of the most renowned authors in her genre, it is guaranteed that people will buy almost anything she produces. With over 574k followers on Instagram and her status as a frequent New York Times bestseller, Maas is the author the eight-book Throne of Glass Series, Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood, Catwoman, and A Court of Thorns and Roses series which includes a trilogy, sequel, and now her most recent addition: A Court of Silver Flames.
Despite her massive acclaim, there was much controversy surrounding this book. The cover reveal produced a major deviation from the artistic aesthetic of the previous novels, and the “flow” of the title was also criticized for being a few syllables short than the other texts. In other words, A Court of Silver Flames was set up by Maas to be a completely new, innovative book. This is most clearly seen in the shift between the main characters of her series to Nesta Archeron and Illyrian warrior Cassian — characters who had been considered minor characters in previous novels.
This new book follows the two characters on the outskirts of war. As the world redevelops around her, Nesta Archeron finds herself slowly sinking into madness. In an effort to save her sister from her vices, Feyre Archeron demands she trains at a house high in the mountains with the skilled and devilishly handsome warrior, Cassian, who has been pining after Nesta since their first meeting.
Maas’s books are characteristically slow burns, meaning the romance, action, and plot development take a long length of pages to fully culminate in something beautiful; this is also true of her latest installment. Though the physicality of romance is quick and meaningless, the relationship and friendship between Cassian and Nesta take much longer to build. However, this necessity seemed redundant to the reader, who knew going in that the two characters would surely end up together.
Readers know this because Maas’s books have become predictable. Each series follows a similar pattern, right down to the unsuspecting Fae male who sweeps the main character (and readers) off their feet and right out from underneath the expected love interest. This new trope was amazing in her first two series but has now become expected in her writing.
A Court of Silver Flames was predictable and a slow-read at times. There was little action up until the last 100 pages, at which point readers will surely not be able to put the book down. The ending seemed to happen quickly and without room for breath, which contrasts starkly against the pages and pages of little action and excitement. This book surely focused on the development of friendships and relationships for Nesta rather than an advancement of A Court of Thorns and Roses plot which has carried over into this sequel series.
In a basic sense, this novel can be dubbed a self-help book. With little action, the plot instead focuses on pulling Nesta out of the darkness, dealing with PTSD, anger, strained familial ties, and the newfound power that threatens to consume her. Maas has delved into this before in previous books, but never to this extent. It is different, and unexpected which at times leaves the text feeling boring and oversaturated with things the readers simply do not have the capacity to understand and a limited amount of empathy to do so.
Still, Maas’s newest text is a phenomenal read and incredibly well written. However, compared to her other novels this book is certainly not as entertaining, dramatic, and captivating. A major appeal of this novel is the fact that it occurs in the same timeline and place as her other series. It gives the readers a chance to enter back into the world of the Fae, which Maas has made a comforting, well-developed place throughout her previous four books. This fact makes up for the more stale scenes between Nesta and Cassian. Readers are able to see other characters and briefly receive updates on their lives, which keeps them reading in an effort to learn more about The Night Court’s beloved characters.
Overall, the ending of A Court of Silver Flames makes up for the slow-building plot. It wraps up nicely what Maas introduced in her second novel, A Court of Mist and Fury, and even introduces other easily lovable, strongly developed characters. Though the characters have started to develop ‘main character syndrome,’ the ending is still beautiful if predictable because of the way Maas writes. Her work is easily considered poetic and epic because of the huge concepts she uses like fated-loved, night-embodied power, and stars that listen to the dreamers.
It’s inevitable to read A Court of Silver Flames, and Maas will surely be continuing the series to further advance the plot of other characters’ relationships. However, little is known about any additional books. Readers are confident that this is not the end of The Night Court and its cohorts and will be expecting another installment in the coming years. The cult-like popularity of her books will demand it. Self-dubbed “victims of Maas destruction,” her fans will need another hit of her beautiful writing soon after this rather disappointing read.