I think when we all heard there were going to be more A Court of Thorns and Roses novels the entire fandom went a little nuts. It became a constant watch of the timeline for this release, and then of course came House of Earth and Blood, which delayed it, but kept us all excited and hopeful. I’m not too sure when we all found out about the book’s focus on Nestian, but I know I was one of the fans on the fence. I knew this book would either make me appreciate Nesta more, or likely just want to continue not liking her. Yes, I’m not a big fan of Nesta. Does that mean I don’t understand why people do back her with Cassian? No, I definitely get it, but when I get attached to main characters I ultimately think of their stories first, and through Feyre’s eyes there really wasn’t much that looked good for Nesta’s overall personality. So, that’s where we are starting this review; my hope that this book redeems Nesta (Seriously, that was my one big ask; make me appreciate Nesta). Before we head into this review, I’m going to serve a trigger warning (one that frankly should be present in the marketing for this book), there is discussion of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and suicidal thoughts in this book, and in this review due to that.
A Court of Silver Flames follows Nesta and Cassian, and comes after either A Court of Frost and Starlight (if you are fully committed to reading the series including novellas) or A Court of Wings and Ruin (if you only want main novels). Coming out of the war with Hybern everyone in the inner Night Court is on the mend emotionally and physically from all that happened. For Rhys and Feyre that has meant establishing their new residence, creating better bonds with the other courts, and enjoying life with their family of friends. Everyone has slowly finding themselves, well everyone but Nesta. For Nesta, the end of the war has left her with a dark void that she is happy to escape with long nights of drinking and sex, and days full of pushing everyone who cares far, far away.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Let’s get this out of the way; I still love the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, it’s been one of my favorites, and will remain on the list. I’ve typically given these books solid five star ratings, having left these books with mostly good things to say, and maybe one con that ultimately meant nothing in the rating. A Court of Silver Flames though, was a different read than the other books in the series, and in the end a different formula. That’s a big thing that needs to be said before anyone questions why I would ever give this three stars versus the overwhelming five star consensus I’ve seen on goodreads.
That said, let’s start with the main thing I was hoping for; did this make me appreciate Nesta? Yes, if this book succeeded in anything it actually made me feel for Nesta and everything she’s been through. Her life hasn’t been easy from the start. She was taught to value wealth and status from her formative years by her mother, and saw it all taken from her. Unlike Feyre, she knew what it was like to have money, and was at a point in her life where she was seriously thinking about how her future would be, and who it would be with when her father lost everything, so when she was faced with not only moving into a small shack of a building, but having to hunt and actually earn a living it went against everything she knew. Add in her rough relationship with all the members of her family (except Elain), and knowing how their wealth was “found” again after Tamlin took care of them and it’s a lot to take in before even getting to the events of the war. Trust me, I was slowly starting to understand how she could be as angry as she was. So, yes this book actually did what I was hoping for, and made me feel for Nesta. Somehow, one of the big cons for me though was that as much as you understand, there’s still an overwhelming feeling that it doesn’t excuse any of it. Maybe it’s the part of me that really felt for Feyre when you realize how alone she was in that point of her life. When we realize how much emotional abuse Tamlin did to her, I started thinking about Nesta’s treatment of her and it was just as bad, and to make it worse even Nesta’s recollections don’t make her reasoning of taking care of Elain, but not Feyre any more logical. It’s child reasoning, her father letting Feyre in his study, or liking her more leading to her treating her like that. It was petty as it gets, and yes I am still mad about it.
One of the things that I did like beyond Nesta in this book is in how we see other characters or are introduced to them. Nesta is sent rather early on in the novel to correct herself, and figure things out, so we get to see how she looks at the members of Rhys and Feyre’s family right off the bat. For the most part, it’s like you’d guess; pure loathing. We already love and adore these characters and all of a sudden we are getting Nesta’s view of them, which is pretty rough. Rhys and her definitely are not the ones that should ever be left in a room by themselves, it would end in bloodshed. Elain though, is the surprising one as we see her start to come a little out of her shell, fed up with Nesta’s constant anger. On the other side of that comment, I will say that I’m hoping we get a more Elain focused novel next since she’s still a little flat as a character. She’s still the soft spoken, sweet, and overly protected of the three, it’s just Feyre doing the protecting now and not Nesta. I would just like to see more from her if there are more spin-offs in the future. Let that shell fully come down!! What this book did really well though was bring in new characters. Given that Nesta is sent to be far, far away from the group in order to heal herself she is in new environments with new people versus with characters we’ve already known. This allows her to meet people who have had similarly traumatizing pasts, and are in the process of either coping or healing. It’s a definite theme of the characters in this novel, but even given that all of the characters introduced in this book felt new and perfect for the story, not just plot movers. I really enjoyed Gwyn out of the newer characters, her past tying into some of the events from ACOWAR, and her initial meeting with Nesta being just pure entertainment for me.
So, I’ve gone into the big pros with their counter cons at this point, but what ultimately steered my rating and review of this book were the things that kept me pausing my reading. For one, this book has a lot of sexual material. If you read this series it’s a given that that kind of material will be in the books, but where ACOMAF had it sprinkled in there this was everywhere, and it was like every day at one point. I honestly preferred the sprinkling in ACOMAF, it played into the plot and where the characters were at the moment. Whereas A Court of Silver Flames just goes into it after training, at the dinner table, and wherever else they felt like it. If you aren’t one for constant material like that this one might end up being a pass in the series. It also plays into the next point; the plot isn’t really there. I know that is a common complaint when it comes to Sarah J Maas books, but it was much more apparent in this one. There is a danger in the book, but primarily this book focuses on Nesta’s overcoming her anger/trauma, her relationship with Cassian, and the forming of her friendships. All good things, but it ends up being sex, training, and then some conflict/action/plot in the midst of that. I’m all for training, but I missed the overwhelming danger/focus of a looming conflict that was present in the main series. This time around it was even more a side hustle for them essentially, an interest builder among the training and sex.
The last con, and perhaps the one that I should have seen coming were the interactions/conflicts with or involving Feyre. These just got my gears grinding. I was actually angry during one moment that I wanted to reach into the book and throttle Nesta, and some of the other characters a bit. In A Court of Mist and Fury we saw Feyre escape emotional abuse and heal herself during her time with the Night Court even before she began to love Rhys. After that point she is painted as this strong and feminine character that will stop at nothing to protect her family and Rhys most of all. In this book, she is the one person in Nesta’s corner, which I had no problem with. What I did not like was that Feyre was constantly forgiving Nesta, and Nesta constantly hating or getting mad at her. To top that, there’s this weird anger and judgement from the other characters that is really out of character for them, given all we saw and know of them from the other books.
I think this was all to say that, yes I did enjoy this, but it wasn’t the same escapism that I felt in the rest of the series. The major things that I enjoyed in the other books were either changed or not done in this book to the point that this wasn’t the same type of read for me. I would have liked to have seen more of a conflict, or attention to the conflict, and overall balancing of everything. It just seemed to lean more towards the relationships this time versus interspersing them with everything going on around them. What were your thoughts on A Court of Silver Flames? Who do you think should be the focus in the next book if there is one? Let me know in the comments below!