*Spoiler-free review* I was so excited to get my hands on House of Earth and Blood the first book in the Crescent City series by Sarah J Maas. I enjoyed her all her Young Adult books and was curious to see what her first adult fantasy book would be like. My first impression was that it’s seriously chunky at 803 pages. That’s a lot of pages of story to get through!
I have to admit that at first, I was a bit confused by this new world SJM had created. It’s an urban fantasy world that includes four houses of which humans and all sorts of mythical beings and beasts are part of. There are humans, angels, fae, shifters like werewolves, witches, vampires, mermaids and mermen, demons and more – all occupying Crescent City. They use technology and text each other, watch reality TV and all the mundane stuff. But they also have unique powers. It’s a world that takes a little while for the reader to immerse themselves in and to learn who is who.
Bryce Quinlan is half-human and half-fae and best friends with a wolf shifter. She’s a party girl who doesn’t take life too seriously until a shocking incident changes her life forever. Two years later, she’s still trying to cope with what happened (I’m being deliberately vague). Then Bryce is summoned by the city’s archangel leader to investigate what she’s trying to forget. She’s teamed with an enslaved fallen angel, Hunt Athalar. Soon, she’s rubbing shoulders with the creatures who dwell in the city’s underbelly. But time is running out to uncover the truth.
House of Earth and Blood is a startling mix of urban fantasy and crime/mystery. Bryce is a protagonist very much like Feyre and Celaena from Maas’s other books. She’s kick-ass, smart arse and feisty with hidden talents. At first, I didn’t really like her, but then she developed as a character throughout the novel. Hunt was the typical brooding hunk of a love interest with sweet undertones. There were so many characters and plots to keep track of that at times, I wished for a character list. But I managed to work out who was who and get totally sucked into the story.
Sarah J Maas already wrote pretty raunchy YA books, so you can expect lots more of that in this adult book. There’s a ton of swearing and steamy scenes. It didn’t bother me. If you don’t like steam, then avoid this book. I enjoyed all the twists and turns and the ending was truly epic. I even got teary in some sections. This book is probably never going to win literary prizes for writing, but it’s definitely a fan pleaser. It’s wildly entertaining and imaginative. By the end, I was fully immersed in this new world and I’m so ready to read the next book. But I don’t really know how this book can be topped.
Verdict: A wild, imaginative epic fantasy read.