I know this one is going to be massively popular on the review circuit and originally I’d planned not to post about it but (a) I’ve written something for every other book in the series and (b) thoughts kind of started spewing out of me right after I finished the novella so why not share them. Here goes. Short and sweet. A bit like the novella, really.
I’ve tried to keep spoilers very minimal, but be prepared for some small details.
This book can be adequately summed up as the Inner Circle does their version of Christmas with a side of emotional trauma. Most of it feels like fan service, and by that I mean it reads a lot like fan fiction. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it does seem somewhat fluffy and uneventful. It’s almost like those fan made conversations people post between the characters on Tumblr or Instagram except a whole book. You get to have some fun with your favourite characters as they eat, get drunk, buy & receive gifts, have snowball fights, and so on. However, I do feel like there could have been more room for substantial character drama had we sacrificed a few shopping trips (there’s a lot) or Feyre’s painting dilemmas.
This aside, the book does dangle the smallest (bare minimum) of threads on a few future plot points. There isn’t much in the way of development on them (at all) but there’s still clear indications of their looming importance in the series to come. We might not be able to say much at this point, but there’s some definite conflict a brewin’ on the horizon. This book is merely the calm before the storm.
SJM’s characters really are the focus of ACOFAS – their relationships with one another, memories, and war scars (both recent and older). As usual, Feyre and Rhys take up a lot of the focus of the book and most of the chapters are written in first person flicking between the two. We occasionally get a third person perspective from other characters such as Cassian, Mor and Nesta, but our main couple remains center stage. The problem is that by this point Feysand has almost become a bit too overexposed. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still one of my favourite fictional pairings but did we really need pages and pages of them once again going on about how much they love one another? Probably not. Did we need the constant sexual innuendo (please stop. No, really) and that extended smutty scene? Nope. We get it. They love each other. Perfect together. Willing to die for one another. While some of the scenes are certainly nice, a lot of that time could have been better spent on more compelling characters with stories still to tell.
Speaking of which…
ACOFAS suggests some great character arcs to come in the new series and I’m actually now really looking forward to seeing inside some other characters’ heads. I adore Cassian, for example, and the novella has given me a strong indication that he’ll be featuring a lot more prominently from here on in. Nesta, too, will be getting a chance to shine and while I don’t much like Nesta viewed through other characters’ eyes, this book has shown me that I really enjoy reading from her third person POV. There’s just so much emotional complexity and potential there. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m a Nessian shipper. Without saying too much on that point, I struggled with the believability of where that relationship was in this book after where we left it at the end of ACOWAR. Still, I know there’s good things in store after the last few pages of the novella.
Mor is short changed in this book. The woman remains a goddess and there’s clearly a big plot arc coming her way, but I do wish we’d gotten more time with her, especially after the heaviness of her early third person chapter. I’m looking forward to seeing her grow and develop, and more importantly, find acceptance in herself.
Elaine’s dilemma remains the same as before and while she’s starting to come out of her shell, I can’t help but find her a bit boring. I do want her to be happy but at the same time, more drama needs to happen soon or I’m going to lose interest entirely. She bakes and gardens. Woooo… so much fun. Have a vision already, or at least semi-deal with this maybe forming love triangle.
Ah, Tamlin. I didn’t expect you to make an appearance at all. You certainly did some very bad things mister, but I feel so, so sorry for you here. At this point, I’m sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for a damn good redemption arc, for the Lord of Spring to get his ass into gear once the shit hits the fan again. I really want him to find some happiness because these scenes just broke my heart.
WAR & CONSEQUENCES
I also have to note that I continue to be impressed with SJM’s unwillingness to skate over the emotional and physical effects of conflict and trauma. Throughout the novella we’re exposed to the damage the war has done to not only the city but the population as well. Past events aren’t simply forgotten, they carry a great deal of weight and influence a lot of what can be considered the plot of this book, whether it be Feyre picturing her sister holding a severed head or the conversation with a war widow as she recounts the depth of her grief. It’s gut wrenching but it’s real and we can’t ask for much more than that. Yet, Sarah also successfully manages to balance out the tone of the book with her usual humour.
Overall, I had a good time with this one and for what it was, it does okay. While I’ll admit that I wish certain plot points and characters had been focused on or expanded more, and there were some things that occasionally got on my nerves, I’m excited to see where the new series will go.