House of Earth and Blood
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, NA
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Series: Crescent City #1
TRIGGER WARNING: drug use, murder, gore
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 delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom — and the power of love.
Crescent City is an urban fantasy setting; the story takes place in a modern city full of every sort of being you’d want to see in a fantasy setting, including but not limited to humans, shifters, Fae, witches, angels, vampyrs, and one super-cute chimera. The story includes aspects of Roman, British, Egyptian, Norse, and even Biblical influence, woven into the gods, names, and legends of the story itself.
After coming off the high of reading Leigh Bardugo’s debut adult read, I wasn’t sure what to expect from SJM. Initially, I was concerned that it was just going to be the same as her YA books but with a lot more profanity. I mean a LOT more. Because there’s an inordinate amount of cursing. But I didn’t lose faith, and I kept reading. The story hooked me, and my faith wasn’t misplaced. Even in her YA books, there’s plenty of intensity in her intimate scenes, and the adult books crank up the heat.
Like SJM’s other books, there’s breadcrumbs dropped throughout the story. I only started thinking they may be important when a) things started appearing more than once and b) because I’ve read enough of her books to be aware of a pattern to her writing. It didn’t stop me from being pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of the plot twists in the story.
The characters are faintly reminiscent of the Throne of Glass series, with Bryce echoing Aelin (half-Fae, smart, a little bratty, tough, fearless), and Hunt reminding me of Rowan in some ways, but they’re not clones that have been recycled for a brand new series, and I like them. Plus, when Hunt is assigned to guard Bryce, it sets the stage for an enemies to lovers trope.
“‘Protecting me doesn’t entitle you to invade my privacy.’ She could admit to the wisdom in letting him guard her, but she didn’t have to yield all sense of boundaries.”
As for the story, it starts off at a fast pace, and only increases from there. The momentum only increased as the story went on, until I couldn’t have put the story down if I wanted to. The book is deceptively large, since the pages are thinner than I’m used to, and I still felt like the story ended before I was ready. It ended with plenty of closure, and although there was a little bit of a cliffhanger, it wasn’t the kind that will leave me biting my nails until the next book comes out.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn't an upper limit.
Gasp factor: 33
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars