A Court of Mist and Fury

One of the best books I’ve read this year is without a doubt Sarah J. Maas A Court of Thorns and Roses. I read it this past spring and had a bad book-hangover for a while. The thought that the sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury, was two whole months away seemed like eternity and while I finally got my hands on it… well, I decided that I wasn’t going to rush through it and I certainly haven’t done that.

We’re back in Prythian with Feyre, now known as Feyre Cursebreaker. Three months ago, she finished off Amarantha Under the Mountain and she saved Tamlin and the rest of the land. Now she’s back at the Spring Court with Tamlin and Lucien, set to marry her love and finally get her happily ever after. But things aren’t great, despite the fact that they’re now all, finally, free. Feyre battles with everything she did and saw Under the Mountain and it’s hurting her. It’s hurting even more that Tamlin doesn’t allow her to feel it all, that he instead encourages her to push it all to the side. He wants her to sit by him and be silent, be still, to be the hope his people needs. But Feyre is dying inside more and more for every moment that Tamlin pushes her to be something she’s not. The only time she can breathe, truly breathe, is when Rhysand calls upon the bargain they made Under the Mountain and Feyre is brought to the Night Court.

On the day of Feyre’s wedding to Tamlin she panics and Rhysand is the one who saves her. He takes her to the Night Court permanently and there Feyre settles in his townhouse, alongside his four close friends. Slowly Feyre begins to heal and she starts to question her relationship with Tamlin, especially when Rhys confirms something Tamlin has denied so vehemently. War is not only brewing, but it’s coming to Prythian again. Feyre, made into an immortal by all seven High Lords, have powers she can no longer suppress. Rhys offer her the possibility to not only learn how to use them, but to be useful in preparing for the coming war as well. And while she’s at the Night Court, Feyre does not only see a different side to Rhys but a different side to the Night Court as well. She was led to believe that they were awful people and that Rhys was worst of all, but she doesn’t agree. They’re the people that saves her when she thought herself beyond saving and they’re the people she will fight for. Fight, side by side, when the war reaches Prythian yet again.

As the title of the novel suggest, this is darker story than A Court of Thorns and Roses. While the first book was horrifying at times, especially later in when Feyre is Under the Mountain, she really has to work through it all here, in A Court of Mist and Fury. Everything she experienced is something she has to deal with now, but a big part of the novel is also dedicated to Feyre coming to terms with her immortality, her new body and strength and the gifts she’s received from the seven High Lords. They all have their own specific power and now Feyre is harnessing all of them inside her. Accepting this is not easy and Tamlin makes it so hard for Feyre when they’re back at the Spring Court, mainly because he’s afraid of losing her. But the more he tries to protect her and keep her out of harm’s way, the more Feyre hurts. Leaving him isn’t easy and it takes a long time for her to work through everything she feels for him as well, but Rhysand and the Night Court offers a respite from everything and, more than anything, a chance for Feyre to finally be herself.

I loved the first installment of this series and I could so easily sit here for hours and heap praise on the sequel. Maas has written a story I’ve been longing to read for years and it is more perfect than I could ever imagined. At one part in the novel, Feyre tells Rhys that she has unknowingly been looking for him and his closest friends – now her friends as well – for years and I feel like I’ve been looking for this story just as long. It is so rich and imaginative yet so believable. It will swallow you up in a heartbeat and not let you go, even after you put it down. It gives you action, romance, sorrow and pain, friendship and love, light and darkness, beauty and horrors. Basically everything you could ever want from a book.

One of my favorite things is without a doubt the characters. They’re so deep and so true. I connected instantly with Feyre in the first book and I was very curious about Rhysand then as well. I didn’t believe him to be the monster everyone said he was and I was right. A Court of Mist and Fury allows the reader to get close to him and see that behind his hard exterior is a character with a very rich personality. He has four close friends; Amren, his cousin Mor, Cassian and Azriel. They all accept Feyre and they have very interesting stories as well. I loved getting to know them and I love how much Maas obviously has worked on all of her character’s pasts and their personalities. It must’ve been hard work but it is so worth it because they’re some of the most believable characters I’ve ever come across.

But Feyre is of course the big achievement. She’s so broken in this novel and I loved it. A Court of Mist and Fury was a nice 600+ pages and Feyre is hurting for the most part. Maybe you think that’s boring, but I didn’t. I thought it was true and real. Feyre has been through hell and back and then back again. She did horrible things Under the Mountain and had horrible things done to her. She was killed and remade into a High Fae. She was reunited with her love and then pushed away by him. She hurts for months and I love it because that’s the only thing that would be logical, in my opinion. If you would go through something like that yourself, you wouldn’t be fine after a few weeks or a month. You might not be fine, ever. Maas does not rush Feyre’s recovery and I applaud that. So many authors do, because they want to move the story forward. But this is part of the story, such an important part, and I really think it can speak to readers who feel bad themselves, for whatever reason. That it’s okay to take however much time you need to be okay. You don’t have to get over everything in a few weeks. Getting back on your feet takes time and that’s okay. This is one of the most important parts in the book, in my opinion, and I love that the novel isn’t just about Feyre’s split from Tamlin or her possible romance with Rhys. It’s about her health and wellbeing and I really liked that Maas put so much focus on that.

Another thing I loved was the relationship between Feyre and Mor. They’re two strong women who can sit down and talk about things besides men and love. I think they’re great role models and they really show that women can be strong and independent. They’re likable and charming but also ruthless and I enjoyed seeing how Maas allowed them to flourish. Amren was a very strong and hardcore character as well, somewhat different but with a very interesting backstory that I look forward to hearing more about later! The dynamic between Mor, Cassian and Azriel was exciting too and I can't wait to see what's going to happen there in the future!

I could go on and on but I think this is a series that you should explore yourselves. I really think there’s something for everyone in here and I do believe it will take your breath away. I’m going to be honest here and say that I actually bought this novel the same month it was published, had it beside my bed for two months and have been reading it since then – five months in total. I had to slow down because I was afraid it would end too soon and I wouldn’t be ready and after a while I was scared to continue because I still wanted to have it all in front of me. I eventually had to finish it and it was just as amazing as I thought it would be, if not more, actually. The sequel will be out in May, which feels like forever. However, the fact that this was supposed to be a trilogy but is now going to be a series of six novels makes me so very, very happy. So, put both of these novels on your wish list for Christmas, read them with love and you’ll be ready right about the time the third one comes out next year. I think you will really like this story because it certainly is something out of the ordinary!

Ten Thousand Skies Above You

One of my favorite things to read about is parallel dimensions and there's plenty of those in Claudia Gray's Firebird trilogy. In anticipation of the release of the last novel, A Million Worlds With You, I decided to reread the second novel, Ten Thousand Skies Above You, to fresh up my memory. Here's my short review of it, for more, check out the longer one from last year HERE.

Marguerite Caine is an eighteen year old girl who grew up surrounded by scientists. Her parents have spent big portions of their lives researching their Firebird project; a way to travel to parallel dimensions. The first prototypes was just finished when Marguerite's father was murdered by his research assistant, Paul, who escapes by using one of the Firebirds and leaping into a parallel universe. To get revenge, Marguerite and her parents other assistant, Theo, takes the remaining two Firebirds and follow Paul to catch him. But Marguerite's travels tells her a different story than she first believed. Paul is no murderer and her father isn't dead - he's stuck in a parallel universe and Paul was framed for his death. Together with Paul, Marguerite manages to save her father so they can return to their world again. That's when they find out that the Theo they've been talking to for the past three months actually is a Theo from another universe, sent to theirs to cause mayhem.

Together with her parents, Paul, her sister Josie and the real Theo, Marguerite starts to investigate and they're all shocked when they find out that their stuck in the middle of a well-woven web. In the center is an IT-mogul named Wyatt Conley. When Theo gets ill Conley has the medicine for him but he will only give it to them if Marguerite agrees to work for him. When she says no, Conley kidnaps Paul and splinters his soul into four pieces which he then scatters in four different universes to blackmail her. Marguerite needs to find them all in order to put Paul back together and save Theo, but for every step she takes toward helping them she's also taking a gigantic step closer to Wyatt Conley and what ever he has planned for her.

I like this story for many reasons, not least the light and fast-paced way Gray has written it. It's a very imaginative and colorful tale with beautiful descriptions of the places Marguerite visits. I like meeting the same people in different versions, it's fun to see the differences between them and how small things can change and set you apart. The plot is filled with twists, turns and lots of actions. It's difficult to guess what's going to happen next since there's no limit when you can acces parallel dimensions. The story ends with a major cliffhanger as well, leaving the reader breathless and waiting for the last installment.

Marguerite is an interesting character. She's very strong and determined, not to mention brave, but she can be somewhat closeminded as well. However, to her advantage, she realizes this herself throughout the novel and that is one of my favorite things in the story. To see how Marguerite changes and how she grows, how her way of viewing the world(s) becomes different after seeing that not everything is how she believed it to be. Her ability to see her own faults is a major plus for me and it makes her narrow-minded way of thinking early in the novel less annoying.

The love story between Marguerite and Paul is of course present in this installment as well, now that they're officially dating. Marguerite travels through worlds yet again to save him but along the ride she sees that destiny doesn't always put her and Paul together, which makes her question things. I think this is very thought-provoking and it's yet another reason for why I like this series, despite the fact that it can be a bit childish at times. I'm very excited to see what happens in the last part and I can't wait to dive into it.

L.A Konfidentiellt

James Ellroys L.A Konfidentiellt är ytterligare en bok som jag skulle läsa i en litteraturkurs och en roman jag kände mig lite osäker för innan jag plockade upp den. Jag har hört negativa saker som den och trodde inte att jag skulle gilla den, av många anledningar, men den förvånade mig. Det är knappast den mest typiska deckaren men den har en tuff charm som, i slutet, ändå vann över mig på sin sida.

Det här är en historia med centrum runt ett halvt dussin brutala mord på restaurangen Nite Owl år 1953 och de tre poliserna inom LAPD som försöker lösa det. Ed Exley är krigshjälte men avskydd av många kolleger tack vare att han tjallade på flera av dem under ett internbråk ett par år tidigare. Bud White är hårdingen som skickas in när det krävs tuffa tag men som har en svag punkt när det kommer till kvinnomisshandel. Jack Vincennes är en förre detta alkoholist som älskar att sätta fast narkotikamissbrukare men har en mörk hemlighet han kämpar hårt för att dölja. Alla tre är olika och även om de känner varandra är ingen av dem vänner. Nu tvingas de ihop för att lösa det svåra fallet med Nite Owl morden men ingen av dem har kunnat ana hur farligt det hela skulle visa sig vara.

Detta är utan tvekan en väldigt hård deckare som använder mycket tuffa och ofta vulgära uttryck och som inte drar över händelser utan ger väldigt detaljrika beskrivningar på brutala mord. Det är en deckare ut över det vanliga, långt ifrån vad jag är van vid att läsa själv. Den är mörk och vad som är moraliskt rätt eller fel blir blurrigt och får suddiga gränser som plötsligt inte är så lätta att urskilja. De tre poliserna försöker alla göra vad som är rätt och riktigt men ofta vet de knappt själva vad som är rätt och många gånger tar känslorna över hand och styr deras val.

Ellroy tacklar stora samhällsfrågor så som rasism, homosexualitet och misshandel av kvinnor. Han ger en, vad åtminstone jag tycker är, trovärdig beskrivning av hur vita män, och kanske framför allt poliser, betedde sig under 1950-talet. Det är hårt, det är rått men det är också trovärdigt. Jag är inte van vid att läsa böcker med sådant här språk i men det kändes faktiskt uppfriskande, efter att jag vant mig vid det.

I början tyckte jag att romanen var seg och jag, som var fokuserad både på uppgiften jag skulle skriva och mysteriet runt Nite Owl, tycker det var irriterande att det tog över hundra sidor innan morden på restaurangen skedde. Den där första delen av boken var fokuserad på de tre poliserna, deras historia och att lägga en grund för romanen att stå på. Det var, som sagt, irriterande först men när jag passerat nästan tvåhundra sidor insåg jag varför Ellroy valt att ha med början och inte gå direkt till massakern på Nite Owl. Huvudkaraktärernas bakgrund ger så mycket djup till berättelsen att jag nu inte kan tänka mig att vara utan de där första hundra sidorna, de känns livsviktiga för hela bokens tyngd.

Jag hade kunnat skriva en halv uppsats om de tre huvudkaraktärerna, kanske speciellt Bud White. Alla tre har en moralkompass som inte riktigt helt pekar rakt men att de inte är karaktärer som alltid gör rätt får mig bara att gilla dem mer. Ja, de gör fruktansvärda saker alla tre under bokens gång, men jag tror samtidigt att det är något som lätt händer när man är runt mycket våld och samtidigt tänker på sig själv och vad som är bäst för ens egen framtid, ens egen karriär. Trovärdiga karaktärer har brister, för de är mer verkliga, och Ellroys karaktärer har definitivt brister men det är också just Ed Exley, Bud White och Jack Vincennes som får boken att leva.

Något annat jag också hade problem med i början av boken var sättet Ellroy skriver på. Det är väldigt kort och avhugget med lite beskrivningar av miljö och så vidare, men efter ett tag inte bara vande jag mig vid det utan jag insåg också att jag började gilla det. Hela boken är så annorlunda mot något annat jag läst tidigare men jag gillar den skarpt och är väldigt glad att jag fick chansen att läsa den eftersom den inte är en roman jag tror jag skulle ha plockat upp annars. Därför, just därför, rekommenderar jag den till dig. Du kanske inte heller tror att du kommer gilla den men ge den en chans och jag är säker på att Ellroy kommer övertyga dig om att L.A Konfidentiellt är en väldigt speciell, tankeväckande och intressant roman värd din tid och uppmärksamhet.