I’m so excited to quickly blog about a book that I really enjoyed! I get to make fun of silly parts AND talk about the parts I loved AND the parts that I’m still unsure about. It was a challenge to keep this post a manageable length when covering 5 chapters, but it was also super fun.
Feyre is hunting to feed her family, but she wishes she could just hang out and paint. Under her huntress exterior lies the heart of an artist. This first chapter actually reads a bit like the Hunger Games, but it seems pretty unfair to complain just because a different female character is hunting.
She’s about to kill a doe, but a massive wolf attacks it. Feyre isn’t sure if the wolf is a faerie or an animal because it’s “the size of a pony”, but just in case, she kills it using an ash arrow that she just happened to buy last year (ash is deadly to Faeries.)
…for a moment, I wished I had it in me to feel remorse for the dead thing. But this was the forest, and it was winter.
Girl means business.
We also find out that sometimes Feyre hooks up with Isaac, but he’s nothing special. I actually really dug that this story has a protagonist that isn’t a virgin and never apologiges for it (nor did anyone ever try to make her feel like she should apologise for it.) No time is wasted with Feyre pining over Isaac as though there’s a chance in hell she will wind up with his human ass.
We meet Feyre’s terrible family. They used to be rich, lost all their money, and they all rely on Feyre to get shit done for them, never thank her, are only nice to her when she has something they want, and are rude AF when she asks them to like chop some firewood.
It wasn’t that Elain was cruel. She wasn’t like Nesta, who had been born with a sneer on her face. Elain sometimes just … didn’t grasp things. It wasn’t meanness that kept her from offering to help; it simply never occurred to her that she might be capable of getting her hands dirty.
They all resent their father who refuses to find a job because of his limp/busted leg. Creditors beat him up when he couldn’t pay off his debts. Why does this keep happening in books we read? I feel like Abby and Mia are standing behind me like, “Why the eff did you give us such a hard time when our father’s encountered this same plot device that made us SO TOUGH?”
We do find out a lot about who Feyre is in this moment:
Nesta and Elain had fled into the bedroom, barricading the door. I had stayed, begging and weeping through every scream of my father, every crunch of bone. I’d soiled myself— and then vomited right on the stones before the hearth. Only then did the men leave. We never saw them again.
She fucking stayed there when the going got scary and tough. She bore witness to this whole thing and at least tried to make it stop. Feyre, I see you.
Feyre learned how to hunt from other people and she did it of her own accord to try to keep things together while her father healed/learned to walk again and obviously beyond that since he just kind of gives up and refuses to work even after he could again.
Everyone (well, mainly Nesta) continues to be horrible, telling Feyre why she should give the money to them that she gets for the wolf, refusing to go out and chop wood, saying she smells bad…it’s so ridiculous! I know this is a typical fairytale thing, but still.
I also love how Feyre’s practical side continues to be shown along with her deep hurt over how her family treats her. She thinks about her dead mother, and is kind of relieved she doesn’t have another mouth to feed. Like that is real as fuck.
We also find out Feyre made a promise to her mother on her deathbed (again, characters from Calendar Girl and Beautiful Disaster are in good company) to take care of her family. Why are parents always making their children promise really intense shit as they die? Surely, this is emotional abuse.
Feyre gets into a fight with Nesta when Nesta announces she’s going to marry the woodcutter’s son. Feyre says she would love for Nesta to leave, but there’s no way this is going to happen since his family is also poor and she’d be another mouth to feed. It’s harsh, but again, Feyre is living a no bullshit life.
Her dad is like, “God, let your sister hope!” And Feyre is like, “Fuck hope.” But what if hope wasn’t fucked? That’s basically the whole book, I just recapped it for you in one line.
Feyre’s sisters follow her to the market. They run into the detested Children of the Blessed who are religious fanatics obsessed with Faeries. I have finished this book and a quarter of the next one, and these people are mentioned rarely. Maybe their presence is more about introducing the concept of the “High Fae” which are not stoned faeries but ones that look like humans with especially strong powers and sex appeal.
At the market, Feyre meets a badass mercenary lady who offers her an amazing price for the wolf pelt partially because she is impressed and partially because someone once helped her when she was in need and wants to pay it forward. I liked this scane. It would have been so easy for this character to be a male mercenary, but we get another badass woman instead.
We get more details about how Fae lands are separate from the human ones because of a treaty forged centuries ago after a huge war. Humans used to be slaves to the Fae, but now mostly leave them alone because of the treaty. For the past fifty years it seems like something’s cooking because more Fae are coming across the border and attacking humans.
My favourite detail comes at the end of the chapter. Nesta makes some snide comments about she hopes Feyre is being careful with Isaac, and Feyre reveals that Isaac is the one who takes a “contraceptive brew” DON’T YOU FUCKING WISH WE HAD THAT AS AN OPTION?
Later, the family eats dinner, but they’re interrupted by a ROAR!
The beast had to be as large as a horse, and while his body was somewhat feline, his head was distinctly wolfish. I didn’t know what to make of the curled, elk-like horns that protruded from his head. But lion or hound or elk, there was no doubting the damage his black, daggerlike claws and yellow fangs could inflict.
That is one confusing beast. Good thing he will be a sexy, humanoid faerie soon enough.
The beast repeatedly screams “MURDERERS” in all caps. He wants to know which of them killed the wolf, and Feyre takes this moment to tell us that faeries can’t lie and wonders if he’ll be able to tell if she lies. At first glance this question makes sense because you’re kind of like, “Oh yeah, what other kinds of weird, magical things can these magical beings do?” But I would never automatically assume because someone else is bad at lying that they would be able to also detect bad lying in others.
Feyre keeps her cool and acts clever:
“If it was mistakenly killed,” I said to the beast as calmly as I could, “what payment could we offer in exchange?”
The beast explains that the only payment would be what is outlined in the treaty. This confuses Feyre because she didn’t know she actually did kill a faerie. This still baffles me to this day. 1) She wondered whether or not it was a faerie and didn’t care if it turned out to be, but was pretty sure in the end it wasn’t. 2) The mercenary tells her it just looks like a regular wolf to her. This distinction is very crucial later, and I will discuss it further when it becomes relevant.
Because Feyre wasn’t provoked, she has to either die or go live with this beast. Don’t worry, he winds up being a total hunk.
Feyre didn’t know this part of the treaty, but faeries can’t lie, so she agrees to go live with the beast. This is a shockingly nice option given he’s still (rightfully) horrified that she skinned his friend.
Anyway, he tells Feyre they’re leaving now, and she decides she’ll just flee ASAP.
She gives her family lots of parting advice, including to Nesta:
…“don’t marry Tomas Mandray. His father beats his wife, and none of his sons do anything to stop it.” Nesta’s eyes widened, but I added, “Bruises are harder to conceal than poverty.”
Always lookin’ out, Feyre. She wasn’t just being an asshole earlier!
Dad also has some parting words:
“Feyre,” my father said. His fingers trembled as he grasped my gloved hands, but his eyes became clearer and bolder than I’d seen them in years. “You were always too good for here, Feyre. Too good for us, too good for everyone.” He squeezed my hands. “If you ever escape, ever convince them that you’ve paid the debt, don’t return.”
I would definitely not return to these people, so I wholeheartedly agree with dad. Obviously this is difficult for Feyre, though, because she specifically promised her dying mother the opposite. Parents!
As she heads to Faerie lands, Feyre gives us some more background info:
Knowledge of that weakness, of their susceptibility to ash, was the only reason we’d ever survived against the High Fae during the ancient uprising, a secret betrayed by one of their own.
Some Fae lands are ruled by kings and queen, but Prythian is ruled by seven high Lords who are like extra strong and probably extra attractive from what I have seen so far.
Feyre worries about what her new life will be like and how her horrible family will survive. That’s very altruistic, Feyre, but ug your family, dude.
…what Nesta might resort to in order to keep Elain alive. She wouldn’t mind my father’s death. But she would lie and steal and sell anything for Elain’s sake—
But she couldn’t be fucked to chop some wood?
Feyre tries to ask the faerie his name, but he uses magic to put her to sleep until they arrive at Prythian. Rude.