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.
“That’s the key, isn’t it? To know the darkness will always remain, but how you choose to face it, handle it… that’s the most important part. To not let it consume. To focus upon the good, the things that fill you with wonder.” She gestured to the stars zooming past. “The struggle with that darkness is worth it, just to see such things.”
Though the ACOTAR series is what got me back into reading after not doing so for years, I really didn’t have the highest hopes for this book. Like most people who enjoyed the series, I wasn’t completely stoked to have a Nesta book because she wasn’t really a standout character. However, I’m incredibly glad I gave this story a chance. It quickly became my favorite in the series and one of my favorite books ever. The plot isn’t as fast-paced as the other books in this series, but it does keep you intrigued.
Nesta’s mental health journey is so incredibly relatable that its almost hard to believe that part is fictional. In her lowest lows, Nesta isolates herself and has self-destructive tendencies that feel familiar. Things get better at a believable rate, with a mix of good days and bad days and everything in between. Her triggers and flashbacks are done so well that they seem plausible. Everything Nesta goes through feels real; we heal with her instead of just reading it. While every mental health journey is different, its easy to put yourself in her shoes if you’ve experienced mental illness and healed yourself of some serious traumas. Most of us haven’t been thrust into a magical cauldron and stripped of everything we know, but we do know what its like to lose ourselves and have to find our way back.
We see genuine friendships form, rather than friendships of convenience or political gain. And it warms my cold, sometimes-dead heart that some of the bonding in those friendships is done through an unofficial book club, because what better way to get close to your friends than sharing silly smutty books? In addition to new characters, we get to see some old favorites in a new light, rather than through Feyre’s rose-colored glasses. With a different perspective, we get to experience the growing and healing of characters we didn’t realize were in need of it.
I should probably include a warning that this book is not YA. While most readers are probably aware of this, especially if you read the whole ACOTAR series (which starts out YA and gradually becomes a little more mature), I have seen this marketed online and in my local bookstore as Young Adult. I know that a lot of readers are mature for their age and have most likely read worse, but I honestly just don’t want some poor kid blindsided by the ~sPiCy SceNeS~ in this book.
If you couldn’t tell, I definitely recommend this book. It deals with mental illness in an incredibly relatable way, which is so important to me, and it has an interesting plot that ties into the rest of the series without completely rehashing the old issues. And honestly the spice doesn’t hurt either *imagine I inserted that sly-eyed emoji here*.
There are so, so many quotes I love from this book, but I think SJM gave us the best in the form of her dedication:
For every Nesta out there—climb the mountain.