I wrote another blog post today about “How to Write About PTSD” and I wanted to make a book review post about some great NA/YA fiction that has characters with clear PTSD, even if the books don’t call it that.
This book is technically in the New Adult/YA Plus/ Adult category and is not for most Young Adult readers as it has heavy adult content and language.
A Court of Mist and Fury
I have a separate book review on this book here: https://doctorsorders.blog/2018/09/02/a-court-of-mist-and-fury/ , but I wanted to specifically talk about how wonderful this book is at describing a character with clear PTSD.
I’m going to include quotes from the book but will leave out names/physical character descriptions so I don’t spoil anything!
In this book the main character was recently freed from captivity, where she had been tortured and humiliated for months.
This quote is from the first chapter of the book, just after she has woken up from a nightmare:
This was real. I had survived; I’d made it out.
Unless it was a dream—just a fever-dream in Amarantha’s dungeons, and I’d awaken back in that cell, and—
I curled my knees to my chest. Real. Real.”
Not only is this scene a good representation of PTSD because the character is having nightmares, she is also questioning the reality of her current situation. She has to constantly remind herself that what she is experiencing is real. This is common in people who suffer from PTSD, and I thought that the way that the scene is written was very emotional. As a reader you can feel the doubt, guilt and shame that the MC experiences.
The Main character is also triggered by things that remind her of captivity. This quote is from a scene where she is walking down the aisle at her wedding and describes being triggered by the color red:
“I was a murderer and a liar.
A cluster of red petals loomed ahead—just like that Fae youth’s blood had pooled at my feet. Ten steps from the dais, at the edge of that splatter of red, I slowed.
Everyone was watching, exactly as they had when I’d nearly died, spectators to my torment.”
In people with PTSD, triggers can be anything that the person mentally associates with the trauma. In this case, the color red reminds her of blood, and so the character associates that color with her captivity and torture. At the end of this quote the character begins to have a flashback to her time in captivity; suddenly all of her wedding guests become the people who mocked her and jeered at her while she was tortured and humiliated.
She also holds significant guilt about what she was forced to do during her captivity in order to stay alive. She expresses thoughts of wanting to die, because she couldn’t deal with what had been done to her. These are all classic symptoms of people with PTSD.
There is a lot of other wonderful examples in this book of symptoms of PTSD. Sarah J Maas really did her research, and does a wonderful job of showing all aspects of PTSD, from the character no longer enjoying her previous favorite hobby to her losing a significant amount of weight from her lack of appetite.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is the use of Therapy for PTSD treatment.
The main character in this book has two possible romantic choices: both shared in her trauma and also suffer from PTSD and nightmares.
One of the relationships turns toxic as the characters refuse to talk to each other about what happened to them. One of the characters turns inward to rage and despair and lashes out against the people he loves the most.
The MCs other romantic prospect establishes open communication; he shares many of the traumatic things he experienced and invites the MC to share as well. Eventually the two of them are able to help each other learn to live with what happened to them.
Since therapy is the main treatment for PTSD, I loved that the author found a realistic way to incorporate that into her fantasy world.
Another thing that I love, is that the MC finds a lot of comfort in reading books. This was so amazing to me, because I was going through a tough time when I found this series and I worked through many of my personal issues while reading this book, and I loved that the MC did the same!
“ [Reading] had filled my time—given me quiet, steadfast company with those characters, who did not exist and never would, but somehow made me feel less … alone.”
There are several other books that are great at PTSD representation: Six of Crows is one that has several characters with PTSD. I plan on doing a review of that one soon; so this is just part one and part two will be up shortly!
If you love ACOMAF, leave a comment with other favorite quotes from the book!
Also Check out my in depth “How to Write About PTSD” post! https://doctorsorders.blog/2019/04/09/how-to-write-about-ptsd/