Overall Rating: 4/5
Note: This review is spoiler-free
It has now been two full days since ACOTAR fans were *finally* graced with A Court of Silver Flames and being the compulsive reader that I am, I abandoned all my school assignments to consume it on its day of release. I wanted to give it some time before sitting down to write this review – primarily because I was struggling with the lens I wanted to apply. Do I evaluate this book as the massive Sarah J. Maas/ACOTAR fan that I am or do I approach it more critically, taking a step back to allow some semblance of objectivity? I landed somewhere in the middle, so hopefully this review has something to offer to most readers. A Court of Silver Flames is infused with the same magic and fantasy that captured so many hearts, and Maas delivers on the exceedingly high hopes wrought over the last few years. It reads as a love letter to fans of the series, and perhaps to Maas herself, a quality made evident by both the heightened introspection and maturity that make this novel special.
Before I get into all my thoughts, I need to clarify my position on Nesta. She is one of the most polarizing Maas characters and I will admit that I have always found her to be incredibly frustrating. However, there was always so much untapped potential that I have been rooting for her despite my qualms with any previous actions. Her character arc is at the forefront of ACOSF, with any action seemingly secondary to her healing journey – a notable change of pace from the more eventful storylines in the ACOTAR trilogy. We receive so much more insight into her mindset, the depth of her depression, and Maas embraces every nook and cranny of Nesta’s trauma, from the outward alienation and isolation to the self-hatred and despair. It was always there, lurking in the backdrop of her interactions and behavior, but to get that full picture was both illuminating and rewarding.
Having just re-read the entire series in preparation for this release, it is also evident how far Maas has come as a writer. This book is the one of the most self-reflective of her works, making it all the more important for the writing to shine through as opposed to being carried by a thrilling storyline. The third person narration was the perfect choice, allowing readers a breadth of perspective as well as the opportunity to assess old characters through a different lens. ACOSF continues to allow readers to explore the universe, meet new faces, and explore old relationships, and there is something in it for every lover of the books. And not to worry – so many fan questions are addressed (including what was in the box) so rest assured that you will get answers. But as always, it wouldn’t be a Maas novel if there weren’t more questions by the time you finish reading it, already setting the stage for what’s still to come.
Now, for my objective opinion *turns off fan mode*. Here is my main issue – coming in at nearly 800 pages, not enough happens in this book. I was simply expecting more. Given how much I love the world Maas has created, she could give me 1,000 pages with nothing happening and I would still love it, but I cannot deny that I wanted more from ACOSF. The majority of the greater plot development occurs in a handful of chapters, and then finally crammed into the last ~20% of the novel with little time after to debrief and reflect, which is something I thought this book would have benefited from. The pacing felt off, and overarching storyline felt underdeveloped and unsurprising. Similarly, I was disappointed with the lack of scenes involving the inner circle. Don’t get me wrong – I loved watching Nesta find her own voice and space, but with how long the book is, there was so much opportunity (and need, in my humble opinion) to develop some of those existing relationships further.
If you have made it this far, I can only assume that you too are a fan, and honestly? You will probably love ACOSF. Despite my criticisms, I will inevitably read this book again and enjoy every second of it. SJM’s books have gotten me through some of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, serving as the perfect escape, and for that alone I will always love her work. It’s simply one of those books for me, and whether you enjoy ACOTAR or not, I’m sure you can think of a novel that does the same for you.
Have you read ACOSF? I cannot wait to hear what you think!