Series: Crescent City (#1)
Published by: Bloomsbury on March 3, 2020
Genres: Adult Fantasy, Romance
My Rating: ★★★
🚨 MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD 🚨
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.
In the name of being honest, I was very nervous going into this book because it is SJM’s first venture into the new adult territory — A Court of Frost and Starlight arguably had some new adult content, but this was her first book categorised as adult. Another part of me was scared I wouldn’t like it as someone who loves A Court of Thorns and Roses, but never finished the Throne of Glass series. I didn’t know if ACOTAR was a fluke and I didn’t know didn’t know if the adult brand was an excuse to write 800 pages of smut. I was definitely wrong in thinking any of this. Maas is a talented writer and there were limited sexy moments. If anything, the adult label was a reason for her to increase the gore.
House of Earth and Blood is an intimidating book in more ways than one — 800 pages is a hefty amount as it is, but the fantasy element means that there can be a lot of world building without plot at times. You need to really immerse yourself in this. To me, the first 600 pages felt like a drawn out exposition and it was only the last 200 or so where I couldn’t put the book down. Maas definitely has a way with endings and she managed to make me excited for the second book, even though the majority of the book was large chunks of information.
The ending, however, was incredible. The mystery around Danika’s murder was interesting, but it was obvious that none of Bryce’s theories were correct and it felt as if readers were being forced to follow blatant red herrings in the beginning. I don’t think the book needed to be 800 pages, some moments felt like fillers. Overall, the book has a slow start, but it is easy for readers to be pulled into Crescent City with plenty of enigmas keep you hooked.
Bryce Quinlan is the half-fae protagonist in House of Earth and Blood and a notorious party girl. One of my favourites tropes with female characters is when everyone thinks they’re pretty and shallow, but they’re secretly badass. Bryce embodies that. She is strong and fierce whilst being openly sexual and unashamed to do her own thing. This isn’t all that different from Feyre or Aelin, something I noticed with SJM is she tends to recycle characters and ideas.
TAKE A SHOT EVERY TIME YOU READ “LIKE CALLS TO LIKE” IN A SARAH J. MAAS BOOK !
Bryce wasn’t very relatable for me as a wild party girl, but there were plenty of things I could still admire about her. Her friendship with Danika was beautifully written, seeing a healthy female friendship was refreshing. It felt authentic and they acted their age, the two of them were one of my favourite things about the book. I liked Bryce’s relationship with Ruhn too. Their sibling relationship was rocky, but it was clear they’d always have each other’s backs. I think sibling relationships can sometimes be put on the back burner in fiction, but I found the bond helped shaped Bryce and seeing the strain — or lack of — on her as the Autumn King’s bastard child was gripping. Maas approached Byrce’s grief particularly well too — it was messy and difficult, Bryce wasn’t always reasonable or likeable when it came to mourning, which made it feel real. Something as raw and human as grief in a book with mermen and angels really grounded House of Earth and Blood.
Our other main character and Bryce’s love interest is Hunt Athalar. He’s a brooding, possessive angel and was not likeable at all. I hate this trend of angst-ridden, overprotective, emotionally-distant males in books and on screen. I don’t find that behaviour attractive. He felt like toned down Rowan from Throne of Glass. At times, Hunt seemed aware of how ridiculous and douche-like he was being, which is an empty comfort, I suppose. I didn’t even sense any chemistry between Hunt and Bryce, it felt like they were together because it made sense. They were compatible, but the sparks weren’t there. However, the two of them did share some adorable domestic moments that felt very normal when everything else around them was going to hell. Literally.
MY FAVOURITE MOMENT
Hands down, my favourite moment was when Danika helped Bryce perform the Drop and her voice called from the Bone Quarter Gate to, “Light it up, Bryce.”
The entire scene that reveals who murdered Danika was unbelievable too. It was fast-paced, exhilarating and I couldn’t turn the pages quick enough.
MY LEAST FAVOURITE MOMENT
Stop trying to make “alphahole” happen, it isn’t going to happen!
It isn’t a moment as such, but every time Bryce tried to coin the phrase alphahole and then the men in her life proceeded to make decisions for her earned a resounding NO from me. She didn’t always make the smartest decisions, but that doesn’t change the fact she’s an adult.
This book was stagnant for too long, but I’m still reeling from the ending a week later, meaning it had redeeming qualities. Some of the side characters (shoutout to Aidas and Syrinx) were those redeeming qualities as they were more enticing than the main characters.
There’s a vast improvement in Maas’ writing, but she fell back on pointless descriptions and explanations that didn’t drive the plot forward, or relied on what she knew had worked with characters in the past instead of trying something new. The lore of the book was complicated and Maas still managed to play it safe. Yet, I am eager to see what will happen next with the new world and characters established. I’ll be picking up the sequel for sure.
read it and weep,