How do you help some who seems determined to push you away? Join Elise for a bonus (solo) review of A Court of Silver Flames, the latest book by Sarah J Maas in the Court of Thorns and Roses series. This novel follows Nesta, sister of Feyre, as she recovers from multiple traumas in a fantasy setting. Topics include rage, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and the many faces of PTSD.
Mental health issues covered: Trauma (specifically PTSD), depression and low self-esteem, unhealthy coping skills (inc. alcohol use), suicidal ideation.
Additional trigger warnings: Some discussion around sexual assault/sexual content.
Thoughts on the Book
It’s hard to read A Court of Silver Flames (ACOSF) without being reminded of book 2 in the series, A Court of Mist and Fury. Both books are epic fantasy novels that follow young, newly-turned fae as they cope with the aftermath of traumatic experiences. But Nesta’s experiences in ACOSF are very different to Feyre’s in ACOMAF. Both are completely valid explorations of PTSD.
ACOSF portrays Nesta’s journey with complexity and empathy. Her healing journey is complicated and non-linear. We get insight into Nesta’s mind as she struggles to cope with her inner world, relies on unhealthy coping mechanisms, and pushes away the people who care about her. Over time, we see Nesta’s healing journey as she comes to terms with her experiences, finds her own community, and develops a sense of purpose.
Similar to ACOMAF, this is a rare fantasy novel that depicts the impacts of trauma in such an accurate way. Nesta’s character development is fantastic and the author balances portraying her with compassion without excusing her past hurtful actions. With a wonderful cast of characters, interesting relationships, and lots of action-packed scenes, this is a fun read. Just keep in mind this is firmly in the new adult territory (I lost track of the number of sex scenes), shares a lot of thematic similarities with ACOMAF, and continues some of the overarching flaws seen in the rest of the series.
About the Book
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.
About the Author
Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, as well as a USA Today and international bestselling author. Sarah wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in thirty-five languages. Visit the author’s website here.
Sarah has spoken in recent interviews about her own mental health, including severe anxiety, depressive symptoms, and panic attacks. She has also spoken about her experiences with therapy and medication. Here is a transcript of her interview with NPR, where she talks about her experience with anxiety and panic attacks while promoting Crescent City (features minor spoilers for Crescent City).
Relevant Mental Health Resources:
- If you are a mental health practitioner in Australia, you may be interested in the Australian PTSD Guidelines provided by Phoenix Australia.
- Phoenix Australia also has a range of resources about understanding and recovering from trauma.
- You can also find information about PTSD from Black Dog Institute.
- Here are some recommendations around how to help someone experiencing PTSD.
- Interventions are hard to get right, but sometimes they’re necessary. As Amren said, it’s imporant to keep reaching out your hand. This website has some helpful tips on how to hold them successfully; although it’s written in the context of drug and alcohol use, the tips are still pretty relevant.
- More information about mindfulness from Beyond Blue, and the Headspace app (recommended by Sarah J Maas in her Acknowledgements! And I second this recommendation, it’s a great app.)
- In case you’re interested, here’s some info from SANE Australia about post-traumatic growth.