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Bound by blood.Tempted by desire.Unleashed by destiny.
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.
So perhaps I have been living under a rock, but I only discovered Sarah J. Maas this year. For anyone else who is unfamiliar with Maas, she is the fantasy writer behind the Throne of Glass series and the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Crescent City is her latest fantasy series; the first book House of Earth and Blood was published in the spring of this year.
House of Earth and Blood is quite different from the other books by Maas that I have read. Granted, I have only read two books in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, so I am hardly a Maas expert. While the other books that I have read have been set in a more traditional fantasy world, Crescent City is an urban fantasy. Imagine modern-day New York, but with shape shifters, faes, vampires, and other mystical creatures. Throw into the mix a complicated legal system, the threat of war, and murder, and essentially you have the makings of Crescent City.
At 800 pages, this book is long. It took me a while to get through, and there is a lot to unpack. I am going to start out this review by discussing the things I liked about House of Earth and Blood, and then I’ll move on to the aspects that I didn’t enjoy as much.
What I Liked About House of Earth and Blood:
The Setting: I really liked that the characters use modern technology, even though this book is set in a fantasy world. The characters have cell phones, emails, video surveillance technology, etc. It is quite different from the methods of communication in the fantasy books that I usually read. The world itself is more advanced as well; it really did feel like a fantasy version of New York City to me. Sarah J. Maas is such a genius when it comes to world building.
Bryce Quinlan: I am all about bad ass female protagonists, and Bryce Quinlan fits the bill perfectly. She is strong, she is sassy, and she is smart. She is also incredibly stubborn, which honestly just makes me love her even more.
The Details: This book is full of quirky little details that perhaps don’t add much to the plot, but are just there for enjoyment. I mean there are otters that wear little vests and serve as messengers. Have you ever heard of anything more delightful. Little creative details like this are scattered throughout the pages. I find these details really helpful as they help make the fictional world feel that much more realistic. Also, they just make me smile.
The Chemistry: The chemistry between Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar is phenomenal. Other Maas fans will understand how great she is at writing characters with a lot of chemistry. Both of these characters are troubled, angry at the world, and intimidating. The friendship and budding romance between them is honestly just so sweet though.
Danika/Friendship: One of the major themes of this book is friendship. The friendship between Bryce and Danika is incredible. These two girls will do anything for each other, and my heart shattered when the true extent of what Danika does for her friend was revealed. Friendship goals (kind of).
The Mystery: I do love a good mystery, and House of Earth and Blood is no exception. While this is a fantasy book, at times it really felt more like a murder mystery with fantasy elements. There are a few mysteries at the heart of this book: who killed Danika and the pack of wolves, who stole the Horn, what are they planning to do with it, and who is responsible for the recent increase in murders in the city? To say that the solution to these questions is complicated would be an understatement.
Which brings me to What I Didn’t Like About House of Earth and Blood:
It is Confusing: This book is seriously confusing at times. I found myself having to flip back multiple times in order to remind myself of what was going on. There are A LOT of characters, and some of them have very similar names. There is also a lot of very complicated back story. The city itself is complex, which isn’t helped by the fact that the characters frequently refer to places within the city by acronyms rather than their actual names. I’m still not entirely sure what some of the places are, and by the end I still found myself mixing up some of the characters. I feel like a synopsis of the characters and different types of characters/creatures would have been a useful reference at the back of the book. You know a book is complex when there is an entire Wiki page dedicated to explaining who some of the characters are…
The Length: I truly do not mind reading long books, as long as the length makes sense. However, in this case it really doesn’t. I feel as though this book could have easily been edited down to 500 pages. Sure, that would have sacrificed some of the details, but there are also only so many details that a reader can handle before they experience sensory overload.
The Pace: The pacing of this book is really inconsistent. It starts out being relatively fast paced, and then it slows down to a near halt. For a while it feels like nothing is happening, and then it speeds up again, then slows down. It always seems to speed up when something really exciting is about to happen, and then when my interest was piqued it slowed down again. The last 150-200 pages were fantastic though. It’s too bad that you have to make it through about 600 pages of erratically-paced, detail-heavy narrative to get there.
I read this book as a buddy read with a friend. We originally planned to read 100 pages a day and finish it in a week, but quickly abandoned that. This is not a book that is easy to blow through. It will seriously piss you off at times, only to redeem itself a few pages later. By the time you reach the last fifty pages though, and you have to know what happens, you will find yourself forgiving Sarah J. Maas for the near hell she put you through in reading this book. Not because it is bad, but because this book is long, complicated, and oh so frustrating. Despite all this, would I recommend it? Hell yes. Just maybe take it slow. Don’t put pressure on yourself to finish it quickly, or to even understand everything that is happening because that is just not possible in the first read through.
Have you read this book? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below!