House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas (Crescent City #1)

Crescent City

House of Earth and Blood
by Sarah J. Maas

Urban Fantasy/Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

803 Pages

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing (3rd March 2020)

Crescent City #1

Purchase from | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Booktopia* | Book Depository* | Fishpond AU* | Dymocks |QBD|

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Bryce Quinlan is a party girl through and through, she works hard all day and spends her evenings partying with her nearest and dearest. Until one night, they’re taken from her. Left feeling broken and alone, Bryce goes about her daily life as a ghost of her former self. Then the Governor, Archangel Micah comes knocking at her door, it’s been almost two years, the suspect is behind bars, yet the murders have started again. She will do anything for a chance at vengeance, even if it means having to work with the Governor’s assassin – The Umbra Mortis – Hunt Athalar. A broken slave, trading death for death with his keeper until he will one day be free from his past. Micah has given him a deal that he can’t refuse, work with Bryce Quinlan to find the culprit and freedom will be within his grasp. Together, they will navigate a road filled with pain, heartbreak, love and friendship that will change their lives forever.

I’m not going to lie, this book took me…three months. THREE MONTHS to read. And not because of it’s length, though I won’t discard that as having a hand in how long it took. This was my first foray into the writing mind of Sarah J. Maas, a lot of people tell me I should have started with one of her other well known series, and truth be told, I do have Throne of Glass sitting on my TBR shelf. But when I got an email from Booktopia saying that this was up for pre-order, that cover just caught my eye, along with the synopsis, I HAD to have it, and it skipped to the front of my physical TBR shelf over titles that I’ve had for WAAAAAY longer than I’d care to admit. I initially picked it up because a bookish friend and work colleague had stated that she had started reading and couldn’t put it down, coincidentally ANOTHER bookish friend and work colleague also mentioned how she had just started it as well. So I saw it almost as an unspoken buddy read of sorts, though it didn’t quite work out that way as I ended up struggling with the book a little bit, which made me sad.

I’ve been told that the way Crescent City was written was typical Maas. The info dumping in this book just made my head physically hurt. In the first few chapters we are thrown into this world that is being spoken about as though we already have the gist of the rules. We’re also being told what those rules are, though there is a map in the front, so that’s something, though to be honest, I wasn’t about flipping back and forth while I was struggling to take in the amount of information that was a barrage against my eyeballs. It would have been a bit too much, and would have thrown me out of the story. There is A LOT going on in this book. you have gates, and all the different races, you have the worlds though they’re only really spoken about, one in particular Pangera, this story takes place on Midgard. So there is a little bit of Norse mythology used in this story which I thought was kinda cool as I really enjoy Norse anything. There’s a hierarchy which is quite easy to understand, there’s the different parts of the city there’s the characters being set up, the world being set up and then there’s also the story on top of that. It’s a lot. So be prepared to be a little overloaded in the beginning.

I was so attached instantly to the characters we meet in the beginning, Bryce, Danika and the Pack of Devils, all of them. I had that butterfly feeling of this is going to be great, I already love these characters. In honesty, all the characters were so well written, they drove the story forward, and I didn’t realise HOW attached to them and how invested in their stories I had become until I finished the book and thought, wow, maybe I did care about more of them than the adorable Syrinx chimera. Bryce is beautifully flawed, after the devastating event that happen in the first few chapters, I could feel her hollowness, her pain and her heartbreak. She was just floating through life, as everything she loved had been taken away. Danika and her pack were so lively, and I was so here for them. Hunt I didn’t like at first, I didn’t MIND him, but I think I still held out a lost hope for the love interest to be Connor, and I feel like this might have been why I initially struggled with the story. The characters that we meet along the way are all amazing, and I hope that they all return for the rest of the series, there’s some I need to learn more about and then there’s some that I just enjoyed. And those OTTERS ARE ADORABLE! The character development and evolution in this story was also absolutely amazing, it wasn’t just our two main characters that were growing, there were other supporting characters that showed growth as well, and it really just made me happy to see how well developed, real and three dimensional this world and it’s characters became.

At first I was hooked, I had those good book tingles and I just KNEW this story was going to be great, then Maas ripped my still beating heart from my chest and showed it to me while she laughed and laughed. I’m not gonna lie, I felt a teeny bit like Bryce. I just couldn’t believe that this would happen, even though I already knew that it did from reading other reviews and just putting two and two together, as the blurb kinda tells us what’s about to go down. The pacing in the massive middle chunk had some issues, but I’m not sure if it’s because I still felt a bit dirty at Maas for what happened at the start. Part of me was like “No, I’m not going to like it, you ruined it for me” while part of me was like “Well, I need to continue reading because I MUST find out what happened, but I’m gonna be mad while I do it.”.

There’s a lot going on in this book as I’ve already said a million times, but when I closed that back cover last night, after sitting up WAY past bedtime to finish it, I realised that I actually enjoyed the story. Yes it had pacing issues, but the last 200 odd pages of the book, I felt, really made up for the slow going in the middle of the book. Once I hit around page 600 I could not put it down. All of a sudden, things that had been getting built towards through the previous 559 pages started coming together, things started to become clear and everything built towards a climax at once, I’m not talking one plot thread, I’m talking EVERY.SINGLE.PLOT.THREAD.THIS.BOOK.HAS. It all coalesced together at the same time to keep throwing curve balls at me, and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath fast enough. I cried roughly 5 times in that last 200 pages and while I felt like Maas just kept stomping on my heart, which she ripped out before, I couldn’t get enough.

The way that Maas was able to use the excessive length of this book to make you care and become invested in characters that you didn’t even realise had happened until it mattered. I felt like I was Bryce, feeling all of the feelings at once after years of being a shell. All of the feels washed over me in that last part of the book and I feel like it really shows that Maas is truly a master of her craft. I actually said to a friend in a message that the only character I really liked and cared about was Syrinx the chimera, but as I devoured the final part in this book, I realised that was a lie. I had become unknowingly invested in all of the characters and their plights. And that to me demonstrates a well written book. It made me feel when I thought I didn’t give a crap, let’s put it that way.

The mystery was incredibly well written and thought out though I instantly distrusted a character almost from the initial meeting of them and had a feeling they had something to do with what was going on, it turns out I was right, but the rest of the twists and turns I had no idea how they were going to turn out. I felt like I was kept guessing right up until the reveal of everything which was fantastic.

I’m rambling. Did this book have some issues, yes, of course it did, it’s rare to find a book that didn’t. Do I feel that 803 pages is pretty excessive for what I just read? Yes I do, but I also believe, that after finishing it, you couldn’t cut anything out because it really did all add up in the end and ever little word helped the story and the characters develop immense depth that really attributed to the reading experience. Am I hanging to see what book number 2 will bring? You bet your arse I am. I can’t wait to see where Maas takes the series from here. While this book’s overall story was wrapped up in this one volume, there was a couple of smaller plot points thrown out during the story that have been left open ended to allow the series to continue. So it didn’t end on a cliff hanger in my opinion, which was great, another reason why I feel the length worked for the story.

If you pick this book up and you find that you’re struggling, I implore you, stick with it because those last 200 odd pages are so worth it. I had so much satisfaction from events that unfolded towards the end, and it really did give me that good book feel. The only reason I’m not giving it five stars is because I was putting this at a 3 – 3.5 star read up until that last part, and there were pacing issues for me.

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