Written by Sarah J. Maas
I picked this book up because I’d heard the author’s name, and the Throne of Glass. Having never picked that series up, I decided to give her writing a try with House of Earth and Blood. So, what are my thoughts?
House of Earth and Blood has been marketed as an urban, adult fantasy novel. This is book 1 in a series called Crescent City. The basic premise of the story follows Bryce, a young and troubled woman who buries her sorrows in partying, drugs, alcohol and dancing. Everything changes for her early on in the book though. Without going too far into it, someone who is close to Bryce is brutally murdered. This info is in the book synopsis so I don’t feel that I’m giving away too much or spoiling anything. Also, this is the foundation the entire story is built upon.
Following the murder that literally changed Bryce forever, she is swept into a sprawling investigation as she helps to identify the murderer and bring them to justice. She is brought into this investigation specifically by an archangel named Micah, who also happens to be quite the powerful individual in the city. Micah employees another angel, Hunt, to keep an eye on Bryce and to keep her safe.
So lets talk about the overall dynamics of the story and the world. Crescent City, where this book takes place, is a sprawling city in an urban fantasy world that mirrors our own. Only, humans are seen as lower class individuals and the world is basically ruled by angels, vampires, fae, and shifters. Shifters are probably my favorite race in this world as there are a large variety of them. Some shifters can shapeshift into wolves, others can become frogs, or fawns, etc. Kind of a cool concept that I enjoyed. Maas has also managed to create a relatively complex social hierarchy within this book. A war has been going on for centuries in a different region of the world, and it still has a direct effect on the social aspects of the city, especially if someone is human, or of human blood.
With all of this in mind, there is a lot going on in this book, and Maas has the task of bringing the reader up to speed quickly in what is, overall, a fast-paced plot. Initially, this is a ton to take in. In fact, it took me a few chapters to gather my bearings and figure out who was who, and what was going on. Once I grasped this, however, I enjoyed myself while reading this. The overall plot, while relatively predictable for me, was a fun read. This book is packed with what you would expect from a buddy-cop movie as Bryce and Hunt work together to solve the mysteries surrounding a variety of homicides, and how they may connect with a much larger plot. As was expected as well, Bryce and Hunt begin to fall in love. This brings me to what I enjoyed least about this book. The “romance”.
Now, this is purely subjective, but I am just not a huge fan of mushy romance in my books. Realistic depictions of love and sexual and emotional attraction is fine, but there were times where this felt like borderline smut. To each their own, but this completely pulled me out of what was otherwise a well written plot with realistic chemistry between the book’s two main protagonists. Which, by the way, was fantastically done in most cases. The relationship between Bryce and Hunt was entirely believable, and just great to read, though perhaps dragged a bit in the middle. Pulling the reins in on the smutty stuff would have only made their relationship that much better.
This was a long book, considering its content. The majority of the story covers this investigation and the gradual progression of love these characters hold for each other. It felt overextended at times, giving the impression the same story could have been told in 500 or 600 pages. There was a good amount of worldbuilding, and exposition as a result, but not nearly as much as I expected. I feel like there is still so much to learn about the world outside Crescent City and I hope future books do cover these areas. Perhaps the page count would have been better suited to a little less romance and a little more worldbuilding.
Still, by the end of the book, I can say I liked House of Earth and Blood, and I can definitely recommend it. I can see why Sarah J Maas is such a popular author, and I do think this series will be quite popular. It kind of felt like Twilight on steroids, and I think a lot of readers out there will be down for that. I look forward to the inevitable television series, or movies that sprout up from this. Maybe this is already in motion, I don’t know, but it feels like it’d make a good television series.
In the end, House of Earth and Blood is packed full of cat-and-mouse police investigations, steamy romance, bloody action, political intrigue and a few nice plot twists. If you enjoy any of these, you’ll dig this book.
4 out of 5.