A Court This Cruel and Lovely by Stacia Stark – Review

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“One day soon, you will have to make a choice. Be a torch for just one soul in the dark…or burn like the sun for all of them.”

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For years when Prisca fell asleep, she would dream of a man with intriguing green eyes and a cruel smile.

The day she meets him, the ruthless mercenary leaves her for dear.

Not long after humans are born, the gods take the little power they were born with. In return, the gods protect the humans from the fae.

When a human manages to keep their powers, they are known as the corrupt and they are burned.

When Prisca’s forbidden power is discovered, she is forced to flee her small village and the life she comfortably lived.

To survive, she must make a bargain with the mercenary who left her at her weakest.

The deal is simple: Prisca helps him and his mysterious friends sneak into the city and they will help her learn how to wield her own mysteries and dark power she has always kept hidden.

The power may just be the key to Prisca’s survival.

Prisca isn’t the only one with secrets, the mercenary is hiding secrets of his own. Secrets that threaten the safety of everyone Prisca loves. Secrets that could tear not only the kingdom but the world apart.

The author notes that A Court This Cruel and Lovely is a New Adult/Adult Romantasy book with plenty of steam.

Thoughts on the Plot

Something that really interested me was the promise of bigger world-building within this book. There is a lot of movement in this world but we mainly get to read about villages, inns, and castles.

There was a whole fae land yet to be explored and it just kind of left me feeling curious. (In a good way.)

If I had any actual complaints, it would be the pacing of this book. At times it would be a little slow and reading a lot of the main character’s inner thoughts, and then suddenly things would be moving really fast.

There wasn’t a very even pace to the story but this didn’t bother me.

Something other readers might not like, but I actually enjoyed, was that the beginning of the book gets right to the point.

The beginning of the summary is truly what made me want to read this book and the first quarter of the book worked through those events and continued to hold my attention.

There were so many twists and turns in this book. Some of them seemed a bit more predictable but I don’t read to think too hard, so some of the twists took me by surprise.

To be honest this whole took me by surprise in the best way.

Thoughts on the Characters

Another thing I really enjoyed in this book was the main character’s evolution. Prisca is flexible enough of a character to evolve from a small, hidden-away village girl to a woman who owns her power.

Lorien is also a perfectly swoon-worthy love interest. However, he definitely is not as charming as Rhysand. He comes off a little brutish at times but I genuinely enjoyed the tension this created between Lorien and Prisca.

This leads me to the fact that the enemies to lovers in this book is SO GOOD.

The family dynamics within this book are definitely a bit strained and there are plenty of secrets. However, there is also (one of my favorite tropes) some found family with Prisca and the mercenaries.

My absolute favorite relationship is Prisca’s friendship with Rythos. Partially because Rythos has the best sense of humor in the group.

Some of the characters seem less fleshed out. But I think that is more so because we don’t get enough information about them.

I wish we had learned so much more about not just the main characters involved in the story, but also more about the powers and all of the different types of power a human or fae could be born with.

And how each individual power manifests or interacts with other’s magic.

Final Thoughts

I genuinely enjoyed this story. I found this book on a list of books to read to get over an ACOTAR reading slump and it did not disappoint!

The tension between Lorien and Prisca was one of my favorite parts of this book and I found it incredibly intriguing that Lorien leaves Prisca for dead right off the bat. Kicking off their enemies to lovers relationship.

There were so many different kinds of magic in this book that I found myself wanting to know more. But enjoyed what we did learn within this book about magic and human/fae abilities.

Someone who really gets invested in books plots and such would probably smell the plot twists coming from a mile away. But like I said, I read to escape, not to think too hard.

As I mentioned earlier, my main complaint would be the pacing and the lack of info about seemingly important plot points. But this book definitely filled the ACOTAR-sized hole in my heart.

This book gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me.

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