I went into this book scared. There's so much hype around this series and Rhysand that I was actually a little afraid that I wouldn't like this book because my expectations were too high or because the story/character didn't appeal to me (wouldn't be the first time I didn't like a hyped book). I really wanted to love this series as much as the next person, and I'm so glad I ended up enjoying it.
ACOMAF is drastically different from the first book. The characters are incredibly different from the characters they were in the first book, particularly Feyre and Tamlin, as well as Lucien. Lucien was less of an offender in this book, but only because he didn't actually do anything, compared to Tamlin actively being a possessive asshole. His character changes dramatically in this book and it's pretty clear from the beginning the reader isn't supposed to root for Feyre and Tamlin anymore. Tamlin becomes possessive and controlling, not that he wasn't possessive to begin with to a certain extent, but those characteristics are pushed to an extreme that makes me cringe.
Thankfully, for the majority of the book, Tamlin is nowhere to be seen, at least physically. One of my issues that kept this book from being a full 5 stars, was that Feyre constantly compared Rhysand to Tamlin. It felt like overkill constantly being reminded of how horrible Tamlin became and comparing them against each other probably isn't a good thing. I'm sure Rhys didn't appreciate it because he tries so hard to be so different from Tamlin where it counts. Yes they're both possessive, but I actually didn't mind Rhysand's possessiveness nearly as much as Tamlin's. Rhysand doesn't treat Feyre like an object and that's essentially the difference there.
I could go on and on about Rhysand and I'm sure I'm not the first one that could do that or wants to do that. There's a good reason why everyone loves him as a character. I loved the layers he has and how his character develops over the course of this book. The romance is so slow burn and flirtatious and I loved it so much. The affection and attraction develops over time and seems so much more real. It's a ship I will gladly root for.
There's a whole new cast of characters in this book and they're so much more developed than the characters at the Spring Court. Aside from Tamlin, Lucien was the only other character with a backstory and yeah it was sad, but I never really felt for him. The Night Court characters so much more developed and way more likeable. Feyre also develops so much more and grows as a person. Feyre's development is so important, especially to the romance aspects of the book. It allows the romance to not be a love triangle, but to show it more as a people change and drift apart from each other.
There were a few other issues I had with the book, mainly with the fact that this book was long and probably didn't need to be 600+ pages. It was completely character driven, up until the last parts of the book and while I do love the characters, I would have liked a little more plot or possibly a faster pace. The motivations for the villains of this book are a little unclear to me, or don't quite make complete sense, but I don't want to spoil so that's all I'll say about that.
The world Sarah J. Maas created is breathtaking. The descriptions are vivid and the beautiful world she created was easy to picture. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will hopefully be getting to ACOWAR really soon.