House of Earth and Blood

A strong finish.

Book title

House of Earth and Blood

Author

Sarah J. Maas

Standalone or series

Series (#1 in the Crescent City series)

First time reading this author?

Yes

Why I picked this

Having spent more than 30 seconds browsing bookstagram I couldn’t fail to be aware of Sarah J Maas books, but I’d never picked up one myself. However, when the Tandem Collective highlighted the price had dropped on Kindle at the start of their recent readalong of House of Earth and Blood, it seemed like a good time to give it a try.

Review copy or purchase

Purchase.

What it’s about

Half-human Bryce Quinlan teams up with fallen angel Hunt Alathar to track down a demon plaguing Crescent City.

Review

This is the first in a new adult fantasy series called Crescent City. Set on a version of earth (or Midgard) where angels, fae, witches, shifters (people with the ability to take animal form) and demons, all broke through from other realms long ago. Humans are the lowest in the pecking order now, suffered to live in peace is the more advanced cities, but also at war in areas where a rebellion is ongoing.

Bryce Quinlan is half-human, half-fae. Living in one of these more advanced places she leads a fairly free life. Going out with her friends, meeting guys, getting drunk or high, then going to work the next day to work for a sorceress/antiquities dealer with her pet chimera and fire sprite colleague.

Then tragedy strikes and Bryce has to figure out a way to carry on, while also being pulled into a search for a killer demon and a missing antiquity which could unleash hell (or Hel as it’s called here) on Midgard. To save the world she has to team up with uber hot (of course) fallen angel/enslaved assassin Hunter Athalar.

If you’re not sure about the other worldliness of fantasy fiction, don’t worry about it here. If you managed the houses, creatures and bloodline backstories of Harry Potter, the divisions of the Hunger Games or the allegiances of Divergent, you’ll more than cope with the world building here. In fact the most noticeable feature of this books is how normal it is. Everyone has a mobile phone, they binge watch boxsets and crappy reality shows, order takeout and go clubbing. Actually, that last one is probably quite abnormal after 18 months of social distancing.

The characters are reasonably written, although I found Bryce too one dimensional for too much of the book. It takes a while to get through the surface level persona, but that’s part of the journey of the plot, everyone prejudges Bryce.

The interactions are good too, again stronger in the second half of the book as we get to know who they really are better.

It’s in the final section that it really comes into its own though. I’ll be honest for the first half I felt largely ambivalent about the book, an okay read but nothing to shout about. As I got into the second half I started to get invested, seeing the potential of the characters. Then the final portion as everything comes together and Bryce and Hunt face their biggest challenges, I was fully gripped, reading through the tears and compelled to find out what happens next.

I can only hope that with the main characters now established the second book in the series, when it comes out, will start as strongly as this one ended.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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