Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Crescent City #1

This book took me over two years to read – I received an ARC in December 2019 and it was partly intentional that I took so long, and partly the fault of the book.

Synopsis

From the publisher marketing:
Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life–working hard all day and partying all night–until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose–to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion–one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom–and the power of love.

Review

I’ll put it right out there, this is my least favorite of Sarah J. Maas’ books. It’s 800 pages of meh. I saw the twist coming, I saw the big bad coming, I have strong suspicions about the motivations of secondary characters, not because the book itself was predictable, but because I’ve read everything else she’s ever written. And she’s starting to get repetitive and a looser hand from her editor, neither of which makes for a great book for her returning fans.

However, if you are new to the world of Sarah J. Maas fantasy, welcome. This is as good a place as any to dive in, especially if urban fantasy, or Roman inspired fantasy, is your jam. You’ll love it, I swear. And I get that this was supposed to be the book that introduced Sarah to adult readers and adult fantasy sections, but most of us booksellers have been shelving her there already for years, ever since we read that first sex scene in A Court of Thorns and Roses and realized we couldn’t give her books to twelve year olds anymore. But again, if you’re new to her work and her world, welcome. Start here, and you probably don’t really have to go back and read her backlist unless you want more of the same. For me, I was least excited about this series than the continuation of ACOTAR because urban fantasy is not my jam. If I want it, which I rarely do, I look for it to be set in our world, like Ink & Sigil.

Lunathion (the city in which this all takes place) is a booming metropolis full of all the different fae and magical creatures you’d expect – angels, fae, shifters, sprites, merfolk, reapers, etc. and humans. On the other continent, war is brewing between the humans and angels… is this sounding familiar to anyone? Cough cough ACOTAR and ToG. There are alphaholes (love the new name) for our spunky sassy heroine to interact and fall in love with. Again, is this familiar to anyone? Cough cough Rhys and Rowan. At least its not another R name. At least we don’t have a mating bond. Yet. And I loved Rhys, the first time I read him. This iteration is a bit more tiresome. I feel like I still don’t know Hunt. He had 800 pages to tell me I should care about him, or to at least take his cock out of his pants and didn’t. Not once in the same room as Bryce. And this is her adult book…

Okay, now I’m getting snarky because overwhelmingly I find myself seeing myself in Sarah’s snarky sassy protagonists, and to be honest, that’s what I’m ultimately here for. Give me some good old fashioned girl power chosen one fantasy. That’s why I return to Sarah J. Maas’ books time and time again. I like Bryce. I love her dedication to her friends. Hel, I love her mom. And brother. But she drives them away sometimes, and I do to, because sometimes, when you’ve lost something so huge, you run away from the world. You don’t want to go back to the daily grind. You don’t want to move on.

At the end of the day, am I going to keep reading the series? Of course I am. I’ll try to keep track of all the complicated bloodlines and subplots and everything else that Sarah has introduced (part of why I didn’t finish this book until a week before the sequel released) and I’ll sit down and read it in three days because that’s what I do. I enjoy the books, but at the end of the day, I think it’s the fact that she’s a fellow Sarah who shares my same attitude about the proper way to spell our name. And that first time we met and she added an H to a Sara’s name, well, she had me for life, trivial as that may be.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.

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