Published by Bloomsbury Publishing House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on March 3, 2020
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 by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this story from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
I tried, tried, tried, but for the life of me, I couldn’t finish this book. My experience with Maas is not unlike a rickety roller coaster: I’m certain the whole thing will crumble; I brace myself for the thrill of the fall, but when the ride is finally over, I’m actually more disappointed the whole thing didn’t crash and burn.
Seriously, I’m not 100% sure what I expected. I’ve read all of the ACOTAR series and then, at the behest of a friend, attempted TOG. I had to stop at the point where the MC was trying to get knocked up before even talking to her lover about it. The whole consent thing really ended all the interest in the story for me, topped with the raging princess fits the MC frequently used to control her own friends. BUT, all that aside, I was actually looking forward to this book. Between the cover and the premise, I wanted to love it. I wanted Maas to make me have so many feels like I did with Feyre and Rhys, but, as cruel as this might sound, I’m starting to think she’s a one trick pony.
My main beef with House of Earth & Blood is that it copies from all her other books. You have a heroine who is gorgeous, special, strong –and every mofo in the story is in love with her. Literally every guy wants to make her his, human or otherwise. It’s annoying, especially when paired with her snarky, insanely battle-talented self, which is kind of…unrealistic. Seriously, who can wield a gun and a sword at the same time? No one. I own both; I’ve trained in both. It’s not possible beyond looking like an idiot. But hey, at least she’s hot and everyone wants her bod.
There are fae–or maybe they’re angels (really no difference to Maas, apparently)–and wings and mate bonds. There’s the usual alpha males, who are just a few in an OCEAN of characters we neither know nor care about it. Lots of abuse masquerading as “boy just needed a bit of love is all” and the MC just taking it because, well, love? To be frank, I don’t even mind violence and abuse in a book so long as it makes sense to me or that it isn’t dressed up a romance with consent and respect; this book makes Twilight look like a childhood crush, and it drove me up a wall that the “love” was painted as something much greater than it was. I think ACOTAR did a great job, but as I mentioned before, TOG, which was heralded as “consent done right”….really disgusted me with how hypocritical its definition of consent was; it’s cool if the girl doesn’t ask but damned if any man in the book touches her without getting consent first. This book leaned more toward the latter for me.
There is purring and hyper-wokeness galore. The plot is probably the worst part of it all, really. Too much forced banter and not enough of anyone actually doing anything. I’m not trying to be a jerk, but 800 PAGES OF NOTHING HAPPENING IS ALOT OF NOTHING. The murder investigation– supposedly the whole premise of this darn thing–is second to the romantic subplot, which is thinner than cheap TP. There’s a war and lots of other vague things that are somehow important enough to mention, but not explore in any way, despite their supposed grave impact on the whole of the world. Seriously…the whole conflict is that humans are oppressed by the gods, but this barely gets any focus in the book at all. To top it all off, there’s badly (lazily) incorporated Norse Mythology and plain old bad writing. As a reader…I feel like I deserved better than this train wreck.
If I’m being brutally honest, it’s like she took everything anyone liked about ACOTAR and TOG and just recreated them here. I did try not to make comparisons to previous series, but it was actually harder NOT to see the amount of details pulled from them. How similar, you ask? So similar that some of the phrases, dialogue, and interactions were near word-for-word replicas. The only thing really new in this story is the urban setting, which was probably the only interesting bit for me.
In the end, though, it wasn’t enough. I got maybe halfway before I couldn’t take it anymore. Actually, no. That’s a lie. There are about 800ish pages and I maybe read 300 or a bit less than that. I tried to push through, to give House of Earth and Blood a chance to win over my heart, but there’s only so much head bashing a reader can do. Like I said, crashing and burning would have been more exciting. I think, deep down, my greatest disappointment here is that I really wanted to enjoy this book; I wanted Maas to make me fall in love with her writing and characters; I wanted to see how different her stories could be, but ultimately feel cheated. It’s not even that her world is similar; so many writers are able to keep different stories tethered to roughly the same realm, but some part of me can’t help feeling like she either didn’t try to bring her readers a story worth reading that’s equally familiar yet new or perhaps she simply can’t. It’s especially hard when everyone seems to scream love and adoration for House of Earth and Blood, yet I cannot really agree with any point they’ve made.
It’s so rare for me to have such a negative reaction to a book, but to be honest, I’m tired of investing in the promise of a new story only to get the same garbage. This isn’t an assessment lightly made; I’ve read so many of Maas’s books, spending well over $100 on her brand, hoping it would evolve or, in the very least, live up to the hyped reviews on Goodreads and Amazon; House of Earth and Blood does neither. It’s yet another one of her old romances pretending to be something else. It has abuse masquerading as love, too many characters for a reader to reasonably care about, cardboard alpha males, and tropes so tired they make my grandmother look young. House of Earth and Blood is a perfect example of everything wrong with how New Adult stories are treated right now, as a genre and potential age category, and with big names like hers filling the market gap with smut, it’s hard for more complex (and dare I say, serious) stories to contribute to how NA is defined. In short: I need to just stop buying her books and accept this is one author who isn’t for me. This is one story that is not worthy of Valhalla–or, in my opinion, of your hard-earned money and valuable time.