Sarah J Maas is super famous and popular and I haven’t read a single one of her books. The covers put me off. Grim-looking girls with shadowed faces, wielding large weapons – looks like angry teenager wish fulfilment fantasies.

Somehow I still bought one because of some recommendation somewhere. I wish I hadn’t.

I do understand why they are popular. The book was full of drama and excitement and beauty and wondrous places and fantastical creatures and lust and blood and curses and mortal danger. Extra everything!

But I also found this book immensely annoying. Cringe-worthy. Firstly, much of the story is just ridiculous. There’s an elf prince with a curse that can only be lifted by a human girl who falls in love with him, but with dramatic complications. (A more adult version of Beauty and the Beast.) The curse is so convoluted and cliched that it literally made me roll my eyes. The girl doesn’t fall in love fast enough and the elf prince is doomed!

The girl then follows him all the way to the elf queen (or a caricature of an evil elf queen) who cursed him. She agrees to let him go if the girl completes three tasks – or guesses the answer to a riddle. But the quests are incredibly illogical, there is just no reason why the queen would ever set these particular quests, they seem to be chosen only to cause extra drama. Of course they’re supposed to be impossible to complete but the girl manages them all, one way or another. And then she solves the riddle and the queen loses her power and is torn to pieces… what on Earth would possess an immeasurably powerful queen to agree to such a deal?

And of course the centuries-old, all-powerful elf prince falls in love with the callow girl. Because they have so much in common – both have been forced to take responsibility for other people. As if that was totally unique for just these two. As for why the girl falls in love with the guy… well, it mostly seems to come down to his muscles and pretty hair. She seems to have great difficulty separating love from lust. Not that she has much sense in other matters, either.

The whole thing is so silly, so predictable and two-dimensional that I can’t believe she can write this and not be ashamed of her work.

To the ridiculous story, add ridiculous writing style. It’s as if Sarah J Maas was told to avoid normal words, and sat down with a thesaurus and found ways to add extra flourish to everything. Preferably not just one flourish but three. An elf does not turn to face the girl, he “whirls with fluid grace”. The girl doesn’t get dizzy, no, “colours and darkness whirl, eddying her vision”. Arrows “glitter like a shooting star through the darkness”. And this is supposed to be the voice of an illiterate teenager who’s grown up in poverty, completely unschooled?

I have to admit that the story was exciting so I did finish reading this book. But I will take care to never start another one of Maas’s books because it would just annoy me too much.