I don’t know about you, but I’m slightly scared of hyped books in fear of it not meeting my expectations. As far as hyped books go, House of Earth & Blood is definitely one of them! The size of it was also daunting, at over 800 pages, it better be good. So it took me a month to work my way through House of Earth & Blood, but am I glad that I picked it up? You bet!
Here’s 5 things I loved about House of Earth & Blood:
1. Urban Fantasy World-Building
After reading the blurb, I was quite surprised to find that House of Earth & Blood is set in a modern world, ruled by fae, werewolves and other supernatural factions. I definitely didn’t expect this, given the other SJM books I’ve read are set in fantasy worlds. This is part of what I loved about it – the blending of the supernatural world, all with it’s different rules and ways of living, with a modern setting. Now urban fantasy isn’t new, and it took me a while to get into it with this book, but I kind of loved that. I’ve always wanted to see Aelin and Rowan trying to work out the chores and cute texting each other and this filled the gap nicely 🙂
2. It bridges the gap between YA fantasy and adult books
House of Earth & Blood explores psychedelic drugs, partying, social media, video chats, a murder mystery and seeing a co-habitating fae lord honestly just gave me life. There’s a lot of everyday life in here, swearing, sex talk (although not as much smut as I would’ve imagined, given her other series) a lot more than you’ve seen in her other series. When you think you’ve outgrown Sarah J Maas, think again. This book is the gap that I’ve been looking for between YA fantasy and an adult book.
And my favourite parts? When she’s incredibly self aware of what her previous books were like…alphahole is a word that’s described for the possessive male in the book, plus quotes like this:
What is it you want, exactly?… A boyfriend or mate or husband who will just sit there, with no opinions, and agree to everything you say, and never dare ask you for anything?…Just because I’m male and have an opinion doesn’t make me into some psychotic, domineering prick. – Hunt
3. Bryce is a misunderstood party girl that I loved dearly
Bryce seems to have a fairly standard life, working at a gallery, hanging out with her best friend Danika, and partying all night – until she shows off her combat abilities due to her fae heritage. That’s not the only surprise about her – I loved how this girl is full of surprises, and she’s more deadly than she lets on. She tends to be underestimated because of her hobbies, and because she’s only half-fae and I loved how she didn’t set out to prove herself against others.
While some things about her character did bug me (being incredibly beautiful and beloved by all males kind of does that to a girl – and oh, she’s so curvy that she’s banned from all the dance studios!), the things I loved about her outweighed the bad. She’s incredibly loyal that she’ll do absolutely everything in her power to look for justice for the ones that she loves. She loves and protects so fiercely. And don’t let anyone know that beneath that sarcastic exterior, that she actually cares about people, so much that she’ll put herself in harms way for them.
4. Slow burn romance
Nothing quite gets me like a slow burn romance (perhaps enemies to lovers) but when I realised that I shipped Hunt and Bryce, I knew I was in deep. These two are adamant not to get with each other – one, because Hunt is pretty much like an angel assassin that is beholden to another, and because Bryce is his charge.
But c’mon, will these two just skip all the teasing and sexual tension and just get with one another?!
5. The true power of friendship
We read so many books focused on relationship love, that the love that you can have for your friends is often overlooked. The whole thing that drives Bryce’s motivation is her love for her best friend, and I love how that was the focus of the book. Even when you questioned whether they were actually a Thing or not. Because they don’t need to be, you know? Sometimes your friends are really, your whole world and House of Earth & Blood covers this.
Here’s some things that were not so good, however:
- Oh man, for a book at over 800 pages, the first 600 pages dragged on so much. So much that I wondered whether I should keep going and whether it was going to get any better. The pacing is definitely off but I’m glad a few people (namely Piera) encouraged me to keep going. I think if the book was 300 pages shorter, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the overall story.
- The murder mystery was kind of boring and didn’t really lead anywhere – and all the answers are kind of given to you before the book ends. Then I wondered what the remainder of the book was going to be about.
- As much as I loved the urban fantasy setting with supernatural creatures, I found the world-building kind of messy and hard to get into. There’s a lot of ‘name-dropping’ of places and people and you’re just expected to run with it.
- SJM sex scenes drive me bonkers! The purring, the mate-ship, the snarling and everything, I just can’t do it.
While House of Earth & Blood took a while to get through, it certainly paid off in the end. Upon reflection, I actually really adored this book and the overarching theme that true love (even though it’s friendship love), does trump all. The urban fantasy world was also really enjoyable, giving a different flavour to the fae world that Sarah J Maas is known for. I am looking forward to the next book,
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a review copy!
Trigger warnings: drug use, gore, animal cruelty
House of Earth & Blood: Crescent City is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$29.99 or from The Book Depository.House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on March 3, 2020
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Fiction
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble
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Bound by blood.Tempted by desire.Unleashed by destiny.
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.
With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.
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