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An Entire World in HD: Crescent City, Book 1: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Saturday, April 11th, 2020 | Posted by CAITLIN MCALLISTER

House of Earth and Blood-small House of Earth and Blood-back-small

Cover by Carlos Quevado

Bryce Quinlan is half fae, with just enough fae blood to make her ears come to a point and her nails hard as daggers. She also has an intense sense of smell. Besides these small physical attributions, she’s lacking any sense of the power that courses through full blooded fae. She navigates society as a half-breed, not belonging to either human or fae society fully; an outcast in many ways. To cope, Bryce parties. Her small but close-knit group of friends join the hazy, drug- and dance-fueled nights. Until every one of them is suddenly, abruptly, murdered by a demon that hasn’t seen the light of day for a millennium.

Hunt Athalar is a fallen angel, enslaved to the Archangels he once tried to overthrow. Hunt is known as the Angel of Death, the Umbra Mortis, due to his immense strength and the literal lightening coursing through his veins. He is the deadliest assassin in Crescent City.

After the attack that kills Bryce’s friends, she and Hunt are paired together by the Archangel Micah himself to piece together what happened that night, and discover who unleashed such a dangerous creature. As Bryce and Hunt dig deeper into the case, they uncover a dark plot that runs much deeper than they once thought. A force powerful enough to end life as they know it brews beneath the surface, and they have to figure out how to stop it.

Sarah J. Maas has created yet another hit novel. My eyeballs hurt from reading this so quickly. I literally inhaled the chapters and while I tried to savor it, I simply couldn’t put it down.

It has all the right ingredients: romance; magic; and a mystery. The character development and world building were fantastic. I loved the small details and idiosyncrasies that really brought each character to life. Even small characters, like the fire sprite Lehabah and her love of trash TV, brought such life to the pages.  I quickly became attached to them and could easily understand the world they lived in, thanks to the rich detail Maas provides.

I hadn’t read Maas’ earlier work, and I really enjoyed her writing style. It’s unique and engaging. She deliberately leaves important pieces of the story unexplained, which is frustrating at first, but a few chapters later she surrenders the missing information in great detail. It cemented these important facts into your brain and makes the entire world come alive in HD. It has all the regular players in a magical world, but I felt like I was being introduced to them in new ways.

Not being familiar with Maas’ previous work, I may have missed similarities to her other story lines and backdrops, but I for one was impressed and engrossed. I immediately went out and bought the entire Throne of Glass series, which should keep me entertained a bit longer than just one book!


Caitlin is the COO of Workbox in Chicago. With the bulk of her career based in hospitality at luxury-level resorts, her path has been an interesting one! No matter where that path has led, building great teams has always been at the core. Caitlin acquired a multicultural perspective through her many experiences traveling and living abroad in the United States, Europe and South America. Her last review for us was Cries From the Lost Island by Kathleen O’Neal Gear.

3 Comments »

  1. Excellent review! I loved this one: the urban fantasy setting is a very new move for Maas, as her previous two series were very solidly epic fantasy and fantasy romance. (In fact, A court of Thrones and Roses was key in the foundation of the New Adult genre in much the same way as Indiana Jones was responsible for the PG-13 rating. It wasn’t so much that ACOTAR is particularly juicy by romance standards, but it was rather distinctly not YA in theme or content, and it was an indicator that a new category was needed.) I’m a Maas junkie, and while she does hit some rather familiar beats, she also hits them far better and the plot feels far more solid than it sometimes has in the past.

    That’s not a knock on Maas: for all she’s got an impressive list of titles behind her she’s a very young author. Her skill is growing markedly with every release, and I’m enjoying watching her grow. My only concern is that a) she’s got a tendency to over-utilize the deliberate withholding of information until the very last moment, as she did here and b) She needs a bossier editor. The former works this time because it’s a Fanatasy Noir and withholding critical data is a well established trope. But it’s a risky move. The latter is also not so evident here, but there were several darlings that could have stood being slashed out in the middle. The Throne of Glass finale was far more egregious: it was LITERALLY a revisit of the infamous “400 pages in a box” episode from The Wheel of Time. I never felt Crescent City dragged but I do think it could have been tightened considerably in the middle.

    But frankly, all complaints are fridge moments. Which is to say: they didn’t bother me while I was listening to the book. I wanted it to last forever and I was eager for every twist. It wasn’t until later when I was pondering the various turns that I thought, “Heeeeeey that whole bit there could REALLY have gone.” It’s a strong book and I can’t wait for more. Except that the 5th Court book is also forthcoming. Dang it. I just need more!

    Comment by Elizabeth Cady - April 12, 2020 11:06 pm

  2. Thanks for the comment, Elizabeth. You should review more books for us!

    Comment by John ONeill - April 14, 2020 9:03 pm

  3. Thanks Elizabeth! I’m really enjoying the Throne of Glass series. She’s so inventive with her characters. I love the Ironteeth witches. I agree that there are places that could be tightened up Crescent City but the story is so engrossing that I really didn’t mind. Her writing is strong enough that those little missteps are blips and quickly forgotten. I also really appreciate her focus on female friendships. The bond between Danika and Bryce is way more compelling than that of Bryce and Hunt. Which I applaud!

    Comment by CAITLIN MCALLISTER - April 15, 2020 1:34 pm


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