“I let out the breath I didn’t know I’d been holding.”
House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City) by Sarah J. Maas was an epic thrill ride from cover to cover.
Did you ever play that tunnel game as a kid where you try to hold your breath from start to finish?
I just hope you didn’t try doing it in traffic. And certainly not when you were the one driving!
How about just going underwater and holding your breath for as long as you could?
Did you ever once find that you didn’t know you were holding your breath?
Yeah me neither.
But I think I might have finally discovered how such a thing would be possible thanks to House of Earth and Blood.
Yes, yes, it’s a long running joke in the YA Fantasy community to harp on those weird phrases that pop up over and over again (not in House of Earth and Blood though, in case you were wondering).
Yet, I have no other way to describe the quickened pace of my heart and tightness in my chest as I finished House of Earth and Blood.
The adrenaline, the excitement, the satisfaction and threads tied together moving at a pace where I could barely keep up.
That’s the epic awesomeness that is House of Earth and Blood.
House of Earth and Blood Review
I’m going to start off by saying if you haven’t read the blurb for House of Earth and Blood yet, don’t!
Like many of you, I auto-bought House of Earth and Blood simply because it has Sarah J. Maas’s name on it. I didn’t care what the book was about. I knew it was going to be amazing.
I read the first three chapters and things were going kind of slow. And I said to myself “What the heck is this book supposed to be about?”
So I read the blurb.
The first major plot twist of the book is given away in the blurb. I about cried.
I have been very very careful to avoid being spoiled. And here the blurb of the book spoiled me. I was not a happy camper.
What is House of Earth and Blood About?
“So,” you say, “what is House of Earth and Blood about if I can’t look at the blurb?”
Let me summarize by saying it’s an Agatha Christie novel in a far future alternate universe with magic, shifters, angels, demons, Fae, merfolk, pixies, and witches all living in the same world.
The Asteri are like these crazy powerful god overlords that don’t like anyone else getting power.
Each area of the world is run by an Archangel/Governor. These are the representatives for the Asteri across the world.
In Crescent City, or Lunathion, there are five sections of the city each ruled by a leader under the Governor.
The houses of magic are spread out across four houses. There is the House of Earth and Blood, the House of Sky and Breath, the House of Flame and Shadow, and the House of Many Waters.
It’s all rather confusing sounding at first.
But the gist of the story is that Bryce Quinlan is half-fae, half-human and she teams up with an angel, Hunt Athalar, to solve a mystery.
What they don’t know is that the simple challenge they are tasked with solving runs far deeper than either of them could have imagined.
But what’s it really about?
Most of the book really does read like an Agatha Christie novel, if Agatha Christie wrote fantasy of course.
There’s a lot of interrogations, investigation, conjecturing, getting too close to the truth, duplicitous people, nefarious machinations, and many many surprises.
Twists lie around every corner.
There’s no shortage of action or suspense.
And Sarah J. Maas provides you with so many questions, so many teases, and absolutely wonderful foreshadowing that when big reveals come, you are hit with the supremely amazing sense of awe.
Why is House of Earth and Blood Adult Fantasy?
There’s a good chance that if you’re reading House of Earth and Blood then you’ve already read Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses, or both.
You are probably aware that both of those previous series were YA Fantasy. And one of the biggest questions leading up to the publication of Crescent City was what makes House of Earth and Blood adult fantasy?
The easiest answer is that the characters of the story and the tone of the challenges that they face are not that of teens.
Bryce is in her twenties, her exact age alludes me but I think she’s around 24 or so.
Instead of wallowing in self pity and being overly emotional as most YA books tend to be, Bryce has a level of confidence and fearlessness that simply wouldn’t fit a teenager.
Additionally, there’s A LOT of swearing in this book.
Like a lot.
Sarah J. Maas drops a the f-bomb at least once a paragraph.
That might be a bit of an over exaggeration, but it’s a lot.
Is there smut?
Of course the real question that everyone wants to ask is if there is smut?
Is there explicit sexual romance?
You either fell into two camps leading up to the release of House of Earth and Blood.
You either really wanted this book to be filled with smut. Or you were debating not buying the book at all because of it.
A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin were filled with some very very explicit sexual scenes that left no detail to the imagination.
If Sarah J. Maas would write that in a YA series, surely Crescent City was billed as adult because the sexual content would be too much for teens.
And while that’s true, the smut is not as frequent as you’d think.
There are perhaps two scenes over the course of 800 pages where the smut-averse (like myself) will want to skip. But it’s really easy to skip and you’ll see it coming.
Those of you who wanted it, sorry to disappoint you. It’s there, sure, but it’s not to the extent that you wanted it. Sorry! (Not sorry)
It’s always possible the next book will have more.
Will Sarah J. Maas write only one love interest?
Minor spoilers here for Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses. Read at your own risk. Skip to the next heading if you want.
The next biggest question about House of Earth and Blood is whether or not Bryce’s love interest is “end game.”
What they want to know is if Sarah is going to break our hearts and change the love interest…
Like she did with Celaena and Chaol.
Like she did with Feyre and Tamlin.
Cause Sarah J. Maas can’t seem to write a story where the characters fall in love and stay in love throughout the whole series.
I’m hoping she proves to me that she is capable with Crescent City.
Only time will tell.
History shows us that Book 1 provides one love story, but that direction is drastically shaken up in Book 2.
If Bryce and her love interest survive Book 2, I’ll keep my hopes up.
But until then, don’t get too attached, cause anything can happen folks.
The beginning of the book is slow.
I was bored to tears until Chapter 5.
I didn’t really get into the story until Chapter 18.
And by Chapter 25-30, I was fully engaged.
It’s adult epic fantasy at it’s finest. It’s a slow burn. All epic fantasy is. But hang in there.
I promise you it’s worth it.
House of Earth and Blood had perhaps the best climax of a story that I have ever read in my entire life.
There are so many powerful, awe-inspiring moments. I could hardly breath as I raced through the last 400 pages in a single night after taking 5 days to go through the first 400.
I absolutely loved, loved, loved House of Earth and Blood.
5/5 stars hands down.
Looking for more great books?
Check out my review of All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace.
You might also consider checking out this list of 10 Books like House of Earth and Blood.
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