ACOMAF and Mental Illness

Hey friends. I’m here to day to talk about a much beloved book: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. Don’t worry, this isn’t a “hater” review, in fact it’s not a review at all. Most people have already read this. And if you haven’t then likely it’s on your TBR. So since it’s been reviewed to death I thought I would talk about part of the story that struck a chord with me. I will warn you there will be mild spoilers in this chat, so if you still haven’t read it (Hilary) then I suggest coming back after you do. With that said, let’s begin

I had already been told by many reviewers and friends to prepare myself for two things. 1) This book contains abuse and deals with it well. And 2) I would hate Tamlin and love Rhysand when the book was over. Now I personally liked (Though not loved) Tamlin in A Court of Thorns and Roses.  Yes he kidnaps her but that’s part of the Beauty and the Beast story. He never yells at her, she just witnesses him loose his temper a couple of times. And it’s kind of part of the High Lord job description to protect his people at all costs.

I kind of brushed it all under the rug and just enjoyed the book. But I went into book two saying to myself, “You will NOT hate Tamlin.” Like I could force myself not to feel upset towards him. I follow people on twitter who tweeted things like “I ship Tamlin with the Attor” and “I hope Tamlin gets hit in the face with a brick.” So it was kind of unnerving to go into this book knowing what’s gonna happen and not wanting it to happen at the same time.  I want to talk about Tamlin and Feyre and how their stories are affected by Mental Illness.

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Tamlin

I’m gonna start with Tamlin because it’s what most people want. Let me start by saying, I don’t hate him. I don’t like him. And I definitely don’t like him with Feyre. But do I wish him a fire-y death where he’ll be sent to the depths of hell. No. No I don’t. And here’s why.

It was pretty obvious to me that Tamlin was sufferring from some extreme PTSD.  In the first or second chapter Tamlin says something along the lines of “You have to be protect.  I wasn’t able to protect you at Under the Mountain but I WILL protect you now. ” Most people read this and focused on the fact that Tamlin was taking away Feyre’s right to choose. He is so concerned with keeping her safe that he ends up locking her inside the house. And while this is abusive and of course it’s important to acknowledge. A sane man wouldn’t do these things. Tamlin isn’t your 2D villian who does things “because it’s evil.”

While I do agree that what he did was abusive and Feyre deserved better I also felt like Tamlin wasn’t ignoring her symptoms so much as wrapped up in his own. To be so concerned with protecting your lover that you take away their right to make decisions, which goes against your previous character/personality, it’s obvious there has been a huge shift in Tamlin. On Multiple occasions he alludes to not being able to do anything  for Feyre during Under the Mountain. Telling the read that it gives him anxiety to not be in control and keep those he considers his safe from harm. This is classic PTSD. He was traumatized and is now basically deciding to not deal with the effects those  experiences had on him. I mean Prythian doesn’t have therapy like we do in the mortal realm. But I would have liked to see him talking to someone, anyone about what he experienced and how it was changing him. It was almost like Tamlin did a 180. I know he had anger issues before, in this book they were magnified by 100. It felt like Maas almost wrote him into this character hole so she could write Feyre into a relationship with Rhys. And THAT left me feeling uncomfortable. Like, “How do I break these two up so she can switch guys?? Hmm I know! I’ll make the guy turn into an ass hole due to trauma.”

Granted there were other things going on with Tamlin. He basically turned Feyre into an idol. Which is how he ended up selling his soul to the devil, aka the King of Hybern. He placed Icanthe before his wife when it came to making decisions (out of fear) which led to his vulnerability when it turned out her intentions weren’t true. And he misguidedly wanted to remain true to this archaic form of ruling where the High Lord is the ruler and rules with a mightly fist. It’s a tried and true form of ruling but one that needed some reformation that Tamlin wasn’t willing to give.

So do I think Tamlin is a super bad guy? No. He let a girl become the only thing he cared about (bad call) and had some major PTSD. Which doesn’t excuse his actions but shows that he wasn’t just some evil character bent on destroying the world. Personally I think Tamlin needs some alone time. No Feyre. No Icanthe. Just him and maybe Lucien taking some chill time to reflect, rest, and work through their traumatic experiences. Sometimes when we our mental illness is just blooming and we don’t have a handle on it whatsoever its best to spend some time alone. Just saying.

Question

Do you think Tamlin’s PTSD played a part in his poor behavior? Do you think he is redeemable? Even if it’s only a little bit.

Feyre

 Back to the first line, “Maybe I’d always been broken and dark inside. ” (Feyre) As the first few chapters unfold you get a pretty clear look into Feyre’s haunted life which is heavily clouded in depression. She’s lost weight to the point of her face looking ill, she is throwing up her good every night, she cries frequently and isn’t leaving the house, and she’s become this passive doll. It was pretty clear to me that she had a massive case of PTSD as well.  I rarely see fantasy books that broach the topic of Mental Health, and with multiple characters at that, so I was driven to read further just by this alone. I wanted to see how Feyre handled this new dark cloud and how she would move on. If you’ve read the book then you know that her interactions with Tamlin make her more depressed, more anxious, and overall unable to live in her own skin. She talks about whether she’d be better of dead because then she wouldn’t be a burden to anyone. This isn’t a simple case of the awful boyfriend. This is a case of severe PTSD. ( I will get to Tamlin’s behavior.) My heart broke for Feyre and as her bond with Rhys grew I just prayed he wouldn’t be her savior.

One of the things that I loved about Rhys was that he pushed her. Yes, he let her be free. But he also pushed her to try, to get outside, to think about what SHE wanted. Their bond wasn’t insta lovey at all but a deep friendship that grew into something more. I loved that when they bonded she tells him. “I want you to know that I am broken and healing. but every piece of my heart belongs to you.” I actually told my husband something similar when he asked me to marry him. I said, “It won’t be the easiest ride, I am still figuring this thing out, but if you’ll be patient with me then know that I’ve given you my heart.” So I really related to Feyre in that moment. She recognizes that mental illness isn’t a magic cure thing. Nor is it always an uphill journey. It was beautiful to read these moments, and in a fantasy no less.

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But damn it Feyre! She had to go and ruin it.” After their mate bond clicked she says, “My friend through many dangers. (Okay, that’s nice.) My Lover who had healed my broken and weary soul.”

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I absolutely hate it when females credit males with healing their mental illness. No, wait, scratch that. I hate it when anyone gives credit to ANYONE ELSE with healing their mental illness. Those people can be understanding. They can be there for you. But they cannot be and are not your healer. Period. Exclamation point. Maybe Maas didn’t mean for it to be taken this way. But that’s the way it was written friends. And it just… it more than bothered me.

Question

. Did you even consider that Feyre was showing signs of PTSD or did you think it was more like a rough time? Did you like how it was handled? Do you want more diversity in fantasy stories when it comes to mental illness?

Answer one or all of my questions in the comments. Let me know if you want to chat more about ACOMAF. I’d love to have a twitter chat because I LOVED it. I hope you’re having a lovely day!

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3 thoughts on “ACOMAF and Mental Illness

  1. Molly's Book Nook says:

    This was a great discussion! Honestly, while reading it, I didn’t think of anything like this. I didn’t even really know that things were a huge problem either. I mean, it is the Beauty and the Beast retelling, which in itself is a case of prisoner turned lover, so I was expecting it to be like that. I didn’t see a problem with that in itself. But I also never really saw Tamlin as just an evil guy (like you said, he wasn’t just out to destroy the world). I always saw him as too possessive, too overbearing, which to me is a sign of mental illness in general. That’s not him being evil, it’s just him not being able to cope with things that are happening. I still don’t like him (haha) but yeah. It could be PTSD.

    I didn’t even catch the line where Feyre credits Rhys. Meh. I don’t like that either! But, alas, it was totally a romance book so it makes sense that Maas wrote it like that (I just don’t like it). Oh, that’s another thing, I personally don’t even consider this book much of a fantasy. I’ve always referred to it as a romance set in a fantasy world lol. So, that might have an affect on my opinion.

    It’s hard for me to say PTSD for Feyre just because I feel like every book (especially fantasy), the female character is always going through something traumatic. Which can totally cause PTSD, but I think just while reading I’m sort of desensitized to it? Because they’re all like that. I don’t know if that makes sense.

    Either way, it is nice to see books address mental illness, romance or fantasy or anything.

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sydneysshelves says:

      I love your feed Molly. Yeah I consider this series New Adult usually b/c its written like a romance book. The writing is just so sexualized. Even the non sex scenes. And I get what you’re saying about most characters being written the way Feyre was. And the fact that we become desensitized to the behaviors b/c a) it’s a beauty and the beast retelling which in itself is a guy kidnapping a girl b) b/c we see so many similar stories where this behavior is romanticized. I just felt like both Tamlin and Feyre made big switches in the way they were acting in the first book. They went to EXTREMES. What makes me think it was PTSD for Feyre was her fear of closed off spaces and being touched. Those are big markers of PTSD. Thanks for commenting and discussing!

      Like

  2. Emma says:

    Ahh I totally agree. About Tamlin, I do think that his PTSD is a big part of how he acted in the second book. And I am hoping that he is redeemed later on and maybe it isn’t easy for him to cope with what he went through but I want that to be something to book tackles. For Feyre I do think that the way her mental health was dealt with was good, and I completely agree that it was amazing to see her befriend Rhysand before they became anything further. It was a bit disappointing that she gave him credit for ‘healing’ her, I would have liked to see her say something more along the lines of “my lover who was there for me as I healed” like his presence maybe was helpful but it wasn’t the only thing that made her heal. Great discussion.

    Like

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