House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Pages: 803

Series: Crescent City, Book 1

Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Fiction

Publication date: March 3, 2020

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Bryce Quinlan led the perfect life – working hard all day and partying all night – until a demon murdered her closest friends leaving her alone in a world she used to love. With the accused behind bars and the crimes starting up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. And she’ll do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of things.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His skills and abilities are being forced into one purpose – to assassinate his keeper’s enemies no questions asked. Yet when a demon begins wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer and freedom will be in reach.

Through love, all is possible.

Danika Fendrir, House of Earth and Blood

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As usual, Maas’ world building was phenomenal. I loved getting to explore the world and learn how the city was built. I loved getting to experience the different districts in the city, to see how they interact with each other and the roles they play in the inner workings of the city. By getting two different perspectives to witness the world through, it was possible to see things the other might not have noticed.

Like always, the characters in this story was so filled with life. Maas has always done an amazing job at creating characters the reader will either love or hate. It might have taken me a while to get used to being in Bryce’s head, but once I was used to the way she though I enjoyed my time there immensely. Sure she might not have been the most reliable narrator at times, but she certainly kept things interesting. Leading a double life after her closest friends’ deaths couldn’t have been an easy thing to do, but it was the only way she could stand existing after the horrors she’d witnessed.

Getting to live in Hunt’s mind part of the time was a great way to break from the melancholy Bryce lived her life in. Granted Hunt didn’t have the best life himself, but the difference of being in a soldier’s mind was evident from the get go.

The thing that’s either hit or miss for me with Maas’ writing has always been the plotline of the story itself. While I adored her Throne of Glass series, her A Court of Thorns and Roses series (first review here) wasn’t exactly for me. When I’d only read these two series, I’d all but convinced myself that Throne of Glass might be the only series I enjoyed by her. Then I enjoyed reading Catwoman: Soulstealer when it came out because the story was fantastic. In fact, it was this standalone story that convinced me that it was the plot of ACOTAR I didn’t enjoy and that Maas’ writing itself is something I adore. Because of this, I always look forward to picking up anything that Maas writes in the future. Not every book might be to my tastes, but I know I can still enjoy the way she tells her stories.

That being said, I really did enjoy the plot of House of Earth and Blood. Knowing that Maas’ books are generally long and contain a lot of exposition that neither adds nor detracts from the story, I expected the story to have a slow start. For me it did. Sure it took me a little while to get into the story, but once I’d immersed myself in what was going on, I found myself loving Bryce and feeling her pain as she struggled with her grief and regrets. Heck, her guilt was so real it was practically dripping off the words.

Hunt’s side of the story added an extra depth of despair and hope that Bryce alone wouldn’t have conveyed. By getting to see them interact with each other and the world around them, they became more than just detectives. They became real people that were struggling with real issues.

Of course their case was an important driving force of the story, but it seemed to be just the catalyst for what was going to happen throughout this story. Yes the murderer needed to be found and brought to justice, but it was everything that they found out along the way, the clues that were sprinkled into the story in the most unlikely places, that helped make the story the fantastic read that it is. Bryce and Hunt might have been thrown together as unwilling partners, but they certainly know how to follow a scent and make the world bleed the answers they need.

While I can admit that this story might not be for everyone, if you’re a fan of Maas’ writing style or urban fantasy reads in general I’d recommend giving this story a try. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried at one point – and after you’ve finished the story I’d love for you to guess which part of the story did it.

I’d also highly recommend listening to the AudioBook version of this story narrated by Elizabeth Evans. It took me a second to pull the voice away from Elena from the Throne of Glass AudioBook narration, but I’m thrilled that Evans narrated this tale by Maas as well. While I haven’t listen to too many AudioBooks yet, she’s quickly become one of my favourite narrators to listen to. Evans breaths an extra layer of life into the characters and it’d be a shame if you missed out on it.

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*Spoilers ahead*

Danika Fendrir might have been an extremely flawed person, but she was also a fantastic soul and the perfect best friend for Bryce. Sure they were party girls and loved to get into trouble together, but they also brought the best out in each other. Danika proved to Bryce that she could trust someone other than her parents with her deepest secrets and Bryce proved to Danika that she was worthy of love.

If it wasn’t for Danika and their amazing friendship, Bryce never would have been able to trust anyone. After all, having the light of her ancestors in her – and having to keep it a secret from her father – is a huge secret to try and keep by yourself. Having someone you can lean on, that you know will be there for you no matter what and keep all of your secrets for you, makes it possible to open yourself up to other people. Maybe not as much, but you’re still able to open up a little bit more.

Danika certainly didn’t have the perfect home life – her mother was a real piece of work, that’s for sure – but Bryce and the Pack of Devils were the best found family that Danika could’ve asked for. Sure they weren’t perfect, but who is? Their crazy complimented everyone else’s crazy.

It’s normal for shifters to be overprotective of their own. The fact that the Pack of Devils extended this overprotectiveness to Bryce just goes to show that their crazies complemented each other. It doesn’t hurt that Bryce was destined to be with Connor until his untimely death. It also doesn’t hurt that even after her death, Bryce was willing to give up her place in the afterlife for Danika.

What does hurt is the way that the rest of the wolves treated Bryce after the Pack of Devils was killed. Yes, she did some really shitty things at the bar right after agreeing to go out on a date with Connor. Yes, drinking alcohol is only an excuse and she should have known better – even with her party girl ways. But to have all of the wolves turn their back on her because she wasn’t there when the pack died? That’s rough, man.

Thankfully, Danika’s grandfather and the leader of the wolves – much to Sabine’s dismay – saw Bryce for who she truly was. A true wolf. Even if it only came out during the worst fight that there could have possibly been.

Another person that Bryce had in her corner all along was Lehabah. Not only did she try to look after Bryce at work, she was a true friend. After everything Bryce did to protect her and keep her safe, Lehabah is the one that made the ultimate sacrifice. In order to save Bryce’s life, she gave up her own. I don’t think that anyone should forget what a spitfire Lehabah was, and how fantastic of a character she will always be.

On a much happier note, I adored Fury and Juniper’s relationship. It had to have been hard for Bryce to have Fury basically cut her off after Danika’s death, but it also had to be hard for Fury as well. Some people grieve differently, and Fury just couldn’t handle being close to people. While I don’t pull back as extremely when something happens in my life, I understand needing to retreat into yourself when you lose someone who meant a lot to you. Coping is hard. It’s a skill that a lot of people – myself included – still need to work on. I’m glad that Fury had Juniper so she wasn’t completely alone.

While she might not have been the best boss in the world, she certainly wasn’t the worst. Jesiba kept Bryce on her toes and kept her accountable while the rest of the world had written her off. I also have a soft spot for anyone who’s willing to keep a good book safe. Knowing that Jesiba was also in charge of keeping the lost library safe – and did so spectacularly throughout the years – raises her even higher in my books. Sure it stopped being secret when it was announced to the world that the books were in Jesiba’s possession, but she did a pretty good job keeping it secret until then. And the only reason that the secret got out was because Jesiba was helping protect Bryce’s life the only way she could. So, over all, Jesiba might be a hardass but she’s still a pretty great boss.

The last thing I want to bring up, though I touched on it briefly already, is: What blinds a Sphinx? Bryce’s father is a real douche by not giving that simple question a thought. He completely wrote her off because the Sphinx screamed while trying to do its oracle-y things and look into Bryce’s future. Thankfully not everyone wrote her off. She might not have made the most… innocent… of acquaintances during her first visit to the Sphinx, but she certainly made an interesting one. I look forward to seeing how these interactions continue to grow now that the world knows that the Sphinx saw in Bryce. But mostly, take that Douchey Dad. Don’t write your kids off because you’re a jackass.

As a goodbye note, I just want to say one last thing: Light it up, bitches!

One thought on “House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas

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