✨Hardcore SJM fans need not engage, kindly move along without reading this review.✨
Summary: The Winter Solstice. In a week. I was still new enough to being High Lady that I had no idea what my formal role was to be. If we’d have a High Priestess do some odious ceremony, as lanthe had done the year before. A year. Gods, nearly a year since Rhys had called in his bargain, desperate to get me away from the poison of the Spring Court to save me from my despair. Had he been only a minute later, the Mother knew what would have happened. Where I’d now be. Snow swirled and eddied in the garden, catching in the brown fibers of the burlap covering the shrubs* My mate who had worked so hard and so selflessly, all without hope that I would ever be with him We had both fought for that love, bled for it. Rhys had died for it.
*why is this book so bad starting from the blurb
Me after finishing the book:
IM FREEEEEE!!!!!!!! WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY FUCKING LIFE
So let’s start by saying this book was almost entirely useless.Things this book has:
• lots of walking around Velaris
• shopping for presents
• lots of bad innuendos
• me physically rolling my eyes every two pages
• way too much internal monologue about who had fucked whom, where and in which position
• one really long and really cringy sex scene
• somehow galaxies were involved in the sex scene and that’s not even the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in a sjm sex scene
• mate mate mate mate mate m a t e ma te ma t e mat e m ate mAtE mATe MATE matE M a te
• I repeat: g e n t l e m a l e s
• a few cute moments
• a few funny moments
• a tiny bit of actual fucking foundation for the next books
Basically Feyre and Rhys need to retire and let secondary characters finally have the spotlight.* The only POVs I genuinely enjoyed were Cassian’s and Nesta’s, which, surprise surprise, will be the focus of the next book. Fucking finally.
*except SJM has a talent for ruining main characters so what happens when secondary characters become the main ones? Uhhh we shall find out I guess.
Speaking more generally, this book was just mostly bad. I’m not only talking about the writing, which needed a lot of editing, but the general feeling surrounding it all. Starting from the blurb, which is just a few sentences from the first chapter copypasted together. People, the blurb doesn’t even make sense. That extra sentence about snow? It shouldn’t be there. They obviously needed one more sentence to make the blurb longer and didn’t know what else to pick. It’s just bad. Whoever did that did a very poor job. And that makes me angry.
Authors, even big ones, still have to fight hard to see their books picked up by publishers, be sold, and then be read and hyped by readers. But apparently that rule doesn’t apply to SJM. The publisher doesn’t even put any effort in pre-release things like writing a decent blurb, because they know her books are going to sell anyway. And I mean, I’m here writing this review because I’ve read this book despite swearing that I was done with this series after ACOWAR, because she has a talent for making you want to know what happens to the characters, even if (especially if) they’re not the main ones.
But the least the author and the publisher could do is put some fucking effort and deliver a product that’s better than this. Instead, it feels like either SJM is a rare case of writer who gets worse every book she writes, or the publisher has decided that she’s still going to sell regardless how many rounds of editing her books get, so they might as well never edit them, thus never delivering a polished book.
Because, folks, we might have started making fun of the word m*te for shits and giggles, but it’s become a big fucking problem, especially in this book. You know the writing advice that says to just use someone’s name when talking about them, instead of saying, idk, “the French girl,” or “the red-haired boy”? SJM has never heard of it. Think about your own internal monologue. Do you think of your spouse as “my spouse” all the time? Or do you simply think about them with their name?
Cassian and my mate’s sister did not speak to each other at all.
This sentence just does not flow. And it’s just one of about 70 times the word m*te was used (and keep in mind this is a 200 pages book). I wonder how many creative writing students failed their assignments for doing exactly what the most hyped YA fantasy author these days does constantly.
Do we also want to have The Talk about the weird connotations and implications that this word has? Oh boy, this conversation is about three years late, but I absolutely Do Not like all this animalistic shit, starting with m*te, moving on to how many times people purr, referring to people as males and females (ah, the good ol’ binary) (YES I FUCKING KNOW SHE CAN’T CALL THEM MEN AND WOMEN BUT JFC JUST STOP), to the weird possessiveness that the whole m*ting system entails. Also!!! Toxic masculinity!!!!!!! Weird unchallenged sexist comments!!!!! Trying to make Rhys sound soooo feminist when apparently his job is being horny 24/7!!!!!! Have Rhys (a literal sexual abuse victim) talk about how he can’t stand to be next to his m*te without, and I quote, BEING BURIED INSIDE HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ohhhh now you’ve done it, you got me mad. If you read a SJM book it seems like thinking/talking/having sex for most part of your day is the normalcy. Which it can be!!!! But guess what! Ace people exist!!!! People with low sexual drive exist!!!!!!!!!! That’s normal too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh no I’m using too many exclamation points let me hire an editor. When every single character you portray acts the same exact way towards something like sex, you’re telling your readers (mostly teens) that that’s what’s expected of them, that that’s how everyone is like. It’s no secret that diversity doesn’t exist in SJM’s world, and that involves how people view sex and romantic relationships too.
It’s amazing that YA books have sex positivity. But books need to also acknowledge that ace people exist too. Protagonists and love interests that aren’t some sort of sex gods need to be there too. Thin boys, fat boys, trans boys need to be there too. If after >10 books a writer can’t get out of her own self-insert fantasies about what type of men she likes, maybe she isn’t a great writer after all. Maybe she needs to listen to the (still too small) part of her readers that demand More, that demand Better.
I went on a HUGE tangent and I don’t even fucking care. There were parts of the book that I liked. I even enjoyed most of its central part. I enjoyed Nesta’s PTSD portrayal and she’s the only reason I’m going to read the next book because parts of her trauma and her way of dealing with it have the potential to mean so fucking much to me. But I’m going to lower my rating to 1 star because I’m tired of all the things I mentioned above, I’m tired of being treated like shit by an author and her team because they expect me to worship her when she doesn’t even try anymore. My 1 star isn’t even gonna change anything because everyone’s giving this the usual five stars, but I don’t care. I’m here and as a reader I demand better, I demand the bare fucking minimum, and I don’t think this book even tried.