WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. Please do not proceed unless you've finished the book and/or don't care about spoilers.
Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she's struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can't seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.
The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre's Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta's orbit. But her temper isn't the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.
Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.
Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other's arms.
SPOILERS AHEAD. THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING.
Content Warning: mentions of past sexual assault, depression and suicidal ideation/thoughts, violence, explicit sexual content
"I am the rock against which the surf crashes."
I'll be honest. This was the hardest review I've ever written so far. I just couldn't get the words right to express my feelings about this book, and more specifically about Nesta and about Cassian. They were my favorite couple before this book, and this has just cemented it even more.
First of all, Sarah's portrayal of mental illness and struggling with that is beautifully written. It's raw and real and uncomfortable. It's relatable. It's hard to read. But it's so important and the portrayal of Nesta's struggles to find herself are so good.
The scene while Cassian and Nesta are hiking and she wants to fall off the cliff... I had to stop reading for a moment because my eyes started leaking. It was me a few years ago. In that moment, I was Nesta. It was hard to read. Nesta's traumas and insecurities and how she thinks about herself were horrible and relatable and made my heart ache. The others don't understand what she feels and she likes it that way, pushing them away to punish them and herself. It was like looking in a mirror. Yikes.
Azriel is the best. He's sassy and snarky and such a good friend. He the first person that truly sees Nesta as a person and she's the first in a long time to not look at him in fear. I enjoy their interactions. Azriel really started to shine in this book and I can't wait to read more about his story. The extra chapter from his perspective really made me sad, but sad for him. He just wants someone to love him. Something of note.... his shadows hide around Elain, who thrives in sunshine. His shadows sing around Gwyn.... just something to think about...
(Also, Sarah. The threesome scene you cut. I can guess who it was and I need it desperately.)
The library is the perfect place for Nesta to heal. I loved seeing her grow in her confidence at the library and in her friendships with Gwyn and Emerie and the other priestesses. Gwyn and Emerie are Nesta's found family, just like the Inner Circle is Feyre's. Nesta finally found where she belongs and the girls are of course just as badass as she is!
Them winning the Blood Rite was both kind of obvious and yet still kept me on the edge of my seat while reading. On one hand, of course they won and I love it. On the other, they'd been training less than a year and beat those other guys who've been training their whole lives. It was slightly unrealistic, and yet I couldn't picture it happening any other way. I loved it.
The House of the Wind is the real MVP in this book. The sentient house hasn't gotten much airtime in the previous books, but it's taken a liking to Nesta and is maybe her first real friend...ever. It was sweet and I enjoyed the House's taste in romance novels. The sleepover scene with the girls and the House was just the best.
Beron and Eris and the mortal queen and Koschei oh my. This was the main "conflict" of the book and yet it felt like an afterthought. This is definitely a character-focused book and yet it still worked in a way. The focus needed to be more on the characters in this one. Despite that, I still would have liked some more of the actual plot and conflict, but I know it would have made the book even longer (not that I'd complain). I look forward to seeing more of this in the next books.
The Mortal Queen took Cassian... and his love for Nesta and his desire to protect her was able to break the Queen's control. My babies. Nesta's power is fierce and wild, just like her.
Cassian learned to dance for her. He recorded music for her. But more importantly.... WE FOUND OUT WHAT WAS IN THE BOX. Ugh I need a Cassian. He was supportive of Nesta and yet pushed her in a way that worked for her.
I enjoyed seeing Nesta make amends with Feyre and Rhys somewhat, but I feel like there were more conversations that needed to be had that weren't. I would have liked to see a more frank discussion between Feyre and Nesta and between Rhys and Nesta. But I am happy with how it developed.
The way the Inner Circle treated Nesta made me very upset. Amren especially. She was all "keep reaching out your hand" to Cassian and then shunned Nesta herself. It was hypocritical and annoying. Also, I've seen a lot of people say that they don't like how Rhys and Feyre are portrayed here, that it's out of character. It's not out of character, we're just seeing their behavior from someone other than Feyre. We have a different narrator, and not one who's in love with Rhys... of course his behavior is going to be interpreted differently by Nesta.
This book was my favorite that Sarah has ever written. It's probably the most relatable book I've ever read and it made me cry too many times.
The beginning development is kind of slow, but overall there is steady pacing, lots of action, lots of spice, and a nice complete ending that still sets up future books.
I know my thoughts are all over the place with this book, but I just have so many thoughts and there's so much to unpack. If there is any part that you'd like to see a more in depth analysis of, let me know!
If you'd like to discuss further, drop a comment below or connect with me on Instagram! I'd love to chat more about this book!
Thanks for reading!