Spoilers ahead! Do not proceed!
You have been warned.
Okay, let’s do this.
Let’s talk about A Court of Silver Flames, Sarah J. Maas’ newest revolutionary piece of literature, and her stark departure from the young adult series it belongs to.
First thing worth mentioning: this book is easily the most Adult Content book I’ve read. Adult with a capital A. It makes Fifty Shades look like a coffee table book.
Maas has really hit her stride with adult content, with profound and provocative romances, smutty scenes, and well-depicted violence. Let’s dive into the romance first, because I think that’s why we all picked up this book in the first place.
Cassian, our main man, our main, winged, man, is a delight from start to finish. Crass and sweet at the same time, this man alone can push our beloved Nesta from the pit in which she has been residing for a couple books now. He is, to be sure, one of the most compelling characters we have seen in this series so far. Mostly, in my opinion, because he is so utterly pure, while being so downright dirty. I can think of no better match for his wildfire companion, Nesta.
Nesta is easily THE most compelling character to date. Multi-faceted and laced with pain, the whole point of Silver Flames was to give a dynamic, breathless character arc hitherto unseen in Maas’ works.
Nesta is consumed by pain and guilt, and unlike so many other characters, she delves into her pain and lives there, unwilling to emerge until it is forced upon her by her sister.
And this is interesting, because quite honestly I need a good morally-ambiguous, broken-but-strong-in-a-damaged-way character. This is something that isn’t often seen in literature. I think this makes her relatable. Not all of us can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get on with our lives after tragedy and failures. Nesta can’t, not without a massive push.
And she is certainly unwilling to grow into herself at first, and that is why the love match between her and Cassian is so smart. It is the epitome of an unstoppable force meets an immoveable object. The end result, however, is not cataclysmic destruction, but a fiercely intense romance.
Which brings us to the next aspect of the book- the Adult Content, capital A.
It isn’t an exaggeration to say that most readers probably needed to set down their books mid-page and jump into a cold shower. The graphic nature of the smut scenes were expertly depicted, utterly entrancing, and certainly Not For Young Readers.
Like I said, Maas has hit her stride, and I imagine she will be doing much more adult literature in the future. She certainly has a knack for it.
The spicy romance aside, the plot was incredibly important. An adventure wrapped in personal growth, giving Nesta the opportunity to find new friends who help her understand herself and her strengths, who overcome each of their own obstacles not alone, but together, which I believe is the most important thing to be: together.
I loved this journey within the novel, because not every character needs individually impressive strength; sometimes one is better as a part of a team. And boy, does Nesta have one hell of a kick-ass female team on her side.
Women of the world, rejoice, because the trio of women in this book makes me swoon with joy and awe. Nesta, Gwyn, and Emerie are a force to be reckoned with.
The subplot, as I like to call it, is honestly where things fall a little flat, however. Because something needed to be going on in the background, the stakes needed to be a bit higher than personal growth in order to create this book. Nesta needed to explore her magic, Cassian needed an evil to defeat, and there was still a little bit of unfinished business from ACOWAR.
The wicked, once-young queen, and her search to control the dread trove was that subplot, and it made its appearance in impressive ways, blending seamlessly with Nesta’s first mission to work on herself. But towards the end, the Dread Trove and Queen plot wrapped up so quickly that I blinked and thought I missed something.
Had a couple Adult Content scenes been flushed, and the subplot been explored slightly more, I thought the novel would have been infinitely more exhilarating.
Overall, though, I think this is a book I will return to again and again. Maas is a Maaster of her craft, and I will drop everything to read what she writes.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I shall go peruse some Nestian Fan Art.