“Narrated by Feyre and Rhysand, this story bridges the events in A Court of Wings and Ruin and the upcoming novels in the series.
Feyre, Rhys and their companions are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated – scars that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of their court.” – blurb from the author’s website.
The purpose of this book seems to be to reset the stakes after book 3 so that we can go into book 5 with a fresh sense of drama. It does that okay, but ultimately it’s a couple hundred pages of fluff that you could easily catch up on anything consequential to the story with a one-paragraph summary. It’s pretty skippable–the book version of a Christmas episode of a drama series.
I was frustrated with Feyre’s development in this book. She sees a tapestry in an artisan’s shop made of blacker-than-black fabric with bright silver thread details and asks the artist about it. The artist invented the black fabric, which she calls “Void,” after her husband died in the war. She created the silver thread, which she calls “Hope,” after Void. The artist specifically mentions that she has no children and therefore she has nothing left of her husband, and this causes Feyre to realize she wants babies because Rhys almost died in the last book too. It’s such a clumsy, heavy-handed scene that reduces the importance of one’s impact on the world after death to whether or not that person had progeny, despite using art that was inspired by that same dead person to make that point. Feyre’s arc in the book amounts to her deciding two things: to share her artistic capabilities with others via opening a studio and giving lessons, and to …I guess make sure she won’t be as sad if Rhys dies by having a baby with him? As someone who is currently going through some shit in my personal life surrounding my choice to not have children, Feyre’s sudden 180 on her previous stance of wanting to experience life and adventure with Rhys first before having a child was frustrating to read. There are so few women characters in media whose happily ever after doesn’t include children, or at the very least, includes waiting until later in life to have children. Feyre turns 21 in this book, for god’s sake, and her husband is over 500. This woman needs to touch grass.
We finally see the “man/male” language thing addressed to an extent, with Feyre explicitly pointing out that she calls a group of Fae men “gentlemen” instead of “gentlemales” out of habit from her past life as a human. So I guess Fae call everyone male/female and humans call everyone men/women. Still feels like incel language to me. I wonder if the Fae have another word for nonbinary people? Do nonbinary people even exist in Maas’s world?
There aren’t any barking bones in this book that I remember, but we do get a hilariously cheesy chapter about Morrigan being a horse girl.
There’s not a lot to talk about in this book. I wish Sarah J. Maas was a better character writer so that this holiday special could feel anything other than utterly skippable. I do think it was smart on Maas’s part to reset the tension this way, though, as the stakes in the third book were near-apocalyptic, and without such a reset the fifth book would have to raise the stakes further or risk coming off as superfluous.