YA Book Reviews

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

I’m gonna do something odd and fun for this (REALLY LONG) review. I originally wrote all of this when I first read the book shortly after it came out, and although I have a slightly different writing style and blogging format, I wanted to keep it the way it is with just a few minor comments here and there. It’s pretty cool to be able to look at one of my first unused drafts from when I started back in January and see where I’ve gone in my blogging since then. I hope you all find it just as entertaining and share your own thoughts below.

*This review contains minor spoilers! If you don’t want to see evidence of a happy ending for all of your faves, go read the book and then come back and tell me what you think. You won’t regret it.* 

Original Review

She was a whirling cloud of death, a queen of shadows, and these men were already carrion.

So this book starts off a lot slower than the first 3 did, and it honestly took more focus than I thought it would to get through the first 200 pages. Heir of Fire ended with the tone of “stay tuned for the next chapter in this thrilling saga!”, but when QoS started, my first thought was…so where’s the action?

Don’t get me wrong, the book REALLY picks up after this. And the first 200 pages really weren’t that bad! The real turn-around for me, though, was when Rowan showed up again. I have no idea why Sarah thought it would be fine to have 200 Rowan-less pages in this book, but MAN, he made EVERYTHING so much better. Things moved along at a more reasonable pace, the ‘drama’ was more engrossing (I actually cared about what was going on. I wasn’t just turning page after page, I was devouring these pages), and he really brought a cohesiveness to the group, like an ingredient you didn’t realize was missing until you added it in. I truly feel like 75% of this book was one of the best things Sarah could have done with this series, and the other 25% flopped for me.

[Updated note: Since re-reading the novel, I realized I actually like the build up that guides the rest of the novel forward. I don’t think it would be the same without the re-introduction of old characters, and meeting of new ones. Yes, Rowan will always hold a soft spot in my heart, but the beginning went fine without him. Especially Manon’s and Dorian’s chapters. No complaints there.] 

What I didn’t like: First of all, Chaol. You’re probably thinking, ‘but Chaol is such a great guy! He was an incredibly well fleshed out character in Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, him and Celaena were so happy together!!” Well, yeah, they were – unfortunately, not only is Celaena a lot more grown-up, but Chaol has a serious inferiority complex about it. He spends the vast majority of this book being a whiny dickhead, and I couldn’t stand anything he did or said. We get it, Chaol, your life is really, really hard. But you needed to get your head out of your ass 400 pages ago, and now I’m so over your crap. You’re lucky Aelin still has a soft spot in her heart for you. I blame Nesryn for that.

He should have thought of pitfalls like this, should have considered what might happen when Aelin Galathynius made a fool of the king and his men.

He should have considered the cost.

Maybe he was the fool.

[Updated note: I still get so mad about Chaol’s attitude. I know I just complained about him in my Heir of Fire review, but he was WORSE THAN EVER for the first half of this book. He spends an obscene amount of time trying to convince himself that Dorian isn’t in control, that Aelin is The Worst Person, and all it does is upset everyone who knows better. And himself.

However…at the end of the book, when he gets his shit together, I was actually really happy that he still played a huge part of this book. Yeah, he’s a dumbass who has made countless mistakes due to prejudice and lack of forethought…but he deserves to be happy, too. (#Chasryn 4 days)] 

Secondly, the Manipulative Bastard trope that Arobynn basks in. I do think that Arobynn is a really strong, hateable character, but his actions in this book are a little bit too textbook. I hated him, for sure, but I wasn’t afraid of him appearing out of the blue at any given time to stir up shit, or working with someone else (like Lorcan) to make Aelin’s life a living hell. He was like a pop-up monster in a corn maze. I expected him to be exactly where he was doing exactly what he did, and it didn’t do anything for me. I think he had a lot of potential for a super-villain team-up type thing, or at least something to bring some suspense into the story line. But instead, he’s just that one last obstacle Aelin had to hop on over to be a ~real queen~ that she couldn’t deal with while in Wendlyn. It was kind of disappointing, to say the least.

[Updated note: Okay, but I want some kind of throw pillow or tote bag that says ‘fire-breathing bitch-queen’ on it because man oh man do I identify with that insult Arobynn threw at her face. Screw him.] 

What was kind of meh: Honestly, all of the villains in this book were kind of weak. What truly carried the book was the protagonists + supporting characters, with a copious amount of character and plot development tugging on my heartstrings the whole time. However, when it came to any of the antagonists, whether it be Arobynn, or the King of Adarlan, or Duke Perrington or even Lorcan…it felt like they had much less active involvement in the story, and were reduced to passive, behind-the-curtain villains. Maas has struggled with this problem in all of the previous books, possibly with the exception of Crown of Midnight, when the King really shows his true colors. I would have liked to see them in a more active role, and hope this is something Maas works on going forward.

[Updated note: I actually had something different here (about Aelin’s continued identity crisis), but I didn’t like it after rereading the novel and replaced it with something I actually still believe to be true.] 

In addition, the…epilogue? Seriously, the last 6 chapters at least were just an epilogue. Sure, I totally cried a lot, but it still could have been condensed into an actual epilogue instead of whatever that mess was. I’m just assuming Sarah was as emotional as the rest of us, so I’ll give her a pass on this one.

[Updated note: Shut up. That was so good. It could have been condensed, but it really wouldn’t have had the same impact if it was. I’m content with the happy endings and look forward towards what’s coming next. And I’m crying about it again.]

What I ABSOLUTELY ADORED: every. single. female. character. All of them were perfect. Whether it was Aelin being her spectacular queenly self, Nesryn and Lysandra being the badass female friends Aelin didn’t know how badly she needed (and for KICKING ASS and TAKING NAMES), Manon and her Thirteen breaking my heart with their development as individual characters, Elide being a hope for the future, even young Evangeline…there was not a single moment where I didn’t love all of them. I have so much hope for the future of the series, especially when it’s being led by all these fantastic women.

The Fae males also stole my heart. Rowan is seriously my pride and joy – as Aelin’s carranam, it was inevitable that he’d come back and steal the show with his delicious, glorious face. He gets lots of character time developing alongside Aelin, and while I know that there are some readers who think him being there defeats the purpose of Aelin not having a crutch, I believe it was important and crucial to his person going forward to have that growth with Aelin instead of separate from her story. Also, smooches.

I know I could talk about Rowan all day long, but my heart was ripped right in half when Aedion and Aelin reunited. Tissue box #1 came and went with their tears and playful banter after years, a whole damn decade, of not knowing if the other was even alive – just to be reunited in the sweetest way possible. I’m tearing up just writing this. It’s so genuine and heartfelt. I love them. Aedion gets a bucket load of character growth as his own person and in the squad, and his relationships with all of the other characters make my heart sing.

She looked at them, at the three males who meant everything—more than everything.

Then she smiled with every last shred of courage, of desperation, of hope for the glimmer of that glorious future. “Let’s go rattle the stars.”

THE SQUAD. I would be happy for the rest of my life if I had just a short video of Aelin, Rowan, Aedion, Lysandra, Chaol, and Nesryn walking up to the heart of Rithfold ready to fuck shit up. I tried to keep as much fan-squealing out of this review as possible, but I lost my mind any time the Dream Team (#queenteam) battled together. Even split up into groups, they were mindblowing. It was a magical time.

And my bonus faves…Manon, Elide, and Dorian (ESPECIALLY DORIAN X MANON) have some of the best parts in this book. I fell in love with Manon and her Thirteen during Heir of Fire, and man oh man they did not disappoint going forward. All of them are so flawlessly integrated into our main heroes’ story that it blows my mind, and I am 100% here for more Manon & Dorian bonding time. Elide is quite the underdog herself, and while at the beginning I was unsure whether she would actually be a lasting character or have about as much purpose as Sorscha, I closed the book feeling impressed and ready to burst with excitement over where Empire of Storms will be taking her story.

Dorian said, “So here we are.”

“The end of the road,” Aelin said with a half smile.

“No,” Chaol said, his own smile faint, tentative. “The beginning of the next.”

Current Thoughts

I’m really glad I reread this book, because I enjoyed it so much more the second time around. I added in some quotes that stood out to me as I was reading (and tweaking some of my earlier writing) and my heart is seriously ready to burst with unparalleled joy and happiness. I’m a little over 100 pages into Empire of Storms now. It’s truly amazing to look back and see how far all of these characters have come. They’ve been through some serious shit that does not let up, no matter how good things look on the horizon, and I’m so proud of them for trucking along in spite of it. They all deserve their happy ending. I really hope they get to see it soon. #Q U E E N T E A M !!

What did you guys think of this book? Do you agree with my opinions, or have other complaints and/or heartfelt comments you thought of after reading this? Let me know in the comments below! 


4 thoughts on “Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

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