Going to do a slightly odd thing here and review the second book in a series without reviewing books one and three. Because why not.
Crown of Midnight is the second book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, and as a result, I was kind of wary about it. Because frankly, I didn’t like Throne of Glass that much. There was nothing wrong with it, per se, it just didn’t work for me — and all my friends seemed to be raving about it, so I felt like I was the odd one out there.
However, while I was working in a school library I found that there were copies of the books there, and decided to give the series another chance. I read the prequel novellas, and that definitely allowed me to become more invested in the characters, as they had a great deal more emotional development. So, having found that this second attempt was more satisfying than the first, I decided to try Crown of Midnight.
My apathy towards Throne of Glass may just have been how I was feeling that day, but I also think that this book was better. It had emotions: so. many. emotions. There was pain, and grief. The characters had depth, and responded to events in their own way. It also contained the sort of magic that gave me chills, and parts that were intense and almost frightening, and it was generally a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.
Talking of events, it was a lot less sequential than Throne of Glass, which was quite episodic: this happened, and then that happened, and then this happened. There were plot twists that absolutely amazed me, prompting me to send a message to a friend that basically just said, “holy crap, [spoiler redacted], I did NOT see that coming.” I always love a good plot twist, and it’s so rare for them to actually surprise me, because I seem weirdly good at guessing them ahead of time.
In terms of the characters and relationships, I actually shipped everyone in this book. Well, not literally everyone, but where there were relationships, I had feelings about them, and in a few cases where there weren’t. (I kind of half wanted Celaena and Nehemia to get together, because they were so adorable in their scenes together…)
I began to get interested in characters that hadn’t really grabbed me before. Dorian, for example, had his own struggles and character development in this book, which he didn’t have so much in book one. This meant that I was more invested in more characters and therefore just that my emotions were frayed.
Because there are many, many things that killed my feelings. This book is FULL OF EMOTIONS. After book one I felt very little. I found it instantly forgettable — I couldn’t remember the characters’ names (though that’s partly because they’re weird) and had no interested in following up on the books. After the prequel novellas and this one, though, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and had to nab Heir of Fire as quickly as possible.
By the time I got to the end, I was just about coherent enough to write a GR review saying, “I have emotions and I want the next book NOW,” but that was about it. So if you’re not one for strong feelings, or don’t like books where Bad Things happen to characters who are really Beautiful Cinnamon Rolls, Too Good For This World, Too Pure, then this is maybe not the book for you.
(Though, to be honest, nobody in this book is a Cinnamon Roll. Everybody has secrets. Everybody has killed people — or pretty much everyone, anyway.)
And by the time I finished Heir of Fire?
Well. I may have cried rather a lot. Okay, it was late, and I was tired, and I’d been reading for hours. But still. I CRIED. Because I am a pathetic booknerd with all of the feelings.
I gave this five stars on Goodreads, but because I have a slightly different policy here, I’m going to give it four. I’d recommend it, but I think it has a more limited appeal than some books: you need to be prepared to deal with PAIN. Also, having been let down by the first book compared to the expectations my friends had given me, it was only willingness to give this a second chance that allowed me to enjoy it, so that’s a black mark against the series as a whole.
Still. Four stars is pretty positive, and if I’ve told you anything at all, I imagine it’s that THIS BOOK WILL PLAY WITH YOUR HEART.