House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
by Sarah J. Mass
House of Earth and Blood by author Sarah J. Mass was published in 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing. Sitting at a sizable 800+ pages, this book is the first in her newest series, Crescent City. The next book is expected to be published later this year (thank god).
“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.” Taken from goodreads.
4 out of 5 stars
Before jumping in, here are the applicable trigger warnings for this book (thanks to booktriggerwarnings.com)
- Attempted suicide
- Death (loved one)
- Eugenics (mentioned)
- Murder (off-screen)
- Near death experiences
- Parental neglect
- Racism (fantasy)
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal ideation
Now, onto my review
I’m a really big fan of SJM’s other series, so I was very excited to start this book. I went into it mostly blind, and was impressed from the beginning. I typically don’t enjoy urban fantasies, but Mass managed to keep the focus off of the technological aspects which I appreciated. The worldbuilding was interesting and provided detailed descriptions of Lunathion, also referred to as Crescent City, the city in which the majority of the book takes place, as well as shorter descriptions of the surrounding country and the older country across water in which the rulers of both lands reside. While Crescent City is a modern metropolis, Mass infused more ancient fantastical elements with ancient demons, princes of Hell, century old rebellions, and descriptions of ancient lands.
The main character, Bryce Quinlan, was someone I related to a lot throughout the book. The book is mostly told from her POV, with a few chapters narrated by others. I liked all of the characters, and am a big fan of Hunt Athalar. Big fan. SJM always gets me with the yearning and steaminess. I’ve always appreciated how SJM depicts depression and trauma, and thought it was done well in this book. The aspects of this book focusing on friendship themes were usually where I cried the most. I enjoyed the complexity brought into this book that is sometimes lacking in her other series. The plot was complex and definitely had more of an adult feel than her previous books, which are mostly listed as YA. Normally I find I’ve already guessed at what the plot twist or reveal will be, but I was actually thoroughly surprised with this one. House of Earth and Blood has many complex aspects to the plot that kept it compelling and intense right up until the end, where there was one reveal or plot twist after another. I certainly found the second half of the book to be a bit more fast paced and interesting, but overall it was well done. I didn’t find it quite “set the scene” for the second book in the series, so I’m interested to see where the series will go.
Overall, this book held up to my SJM standards. Although I don’t quite think it compared to ACOTAR, I would personally put it along the lines of the first book or two of the Throne of Glass series.
Dreaminess: ☁️ ☁️ ☁️ /5