As a fantasy connoisseur and Sarah J. Maas fan, I am super excited to review the first two books in her Crescent City series, House of Earth and Blood and House of Sky and Breath. These two books are big, both over 800 pages. However, they were well worth the time. The first book, House of Earth and Blood, follows the half-human and half-fae main character Bryce Quinlan. I love Bryce, as she feels like a real person with real issues. She starts out as a seemingly shallow party girl who is happy wasting her life taking drugs and clubbing with her friends. However, after a horrific crime, Bryce faces the harsh realities of life and evolves throughout both books. Although I found her to be somewhat unlikable at times, her bold personality drew me in. Like all Sarah J. Maas female main characters, Bryce drove the plot, keeping me invested through both tomes. Compared to Maas’s other work, I felt these books focused a little more on Bryce’s personal issues and character development, which made her feel more realistic.
I also enjoyed reading about the other main character of these books, a broody enslaved angel named Hunt Athalar. As he and Bryce grow closer, the reader learns more about his past as a rebel and begins to peel away the layers of his hard exterior. Again, I really appreciated how Maas focused on his personal development throughout these books and how Bryce and him grow together.
The first couple hundred pages in the first book, House of Earth and Blood, were a little hard to get through, as Maas details the world and the complicated relationships between characters. When reading this part, I recommend putting a little extra effort into trying to keep the politics of the world and the characters straight, as it will help greatly as the book progresses. Once I got through this section, the book became much more enjoyable and action-packed. I really enjoyed the world that Maas built. Unlike her A Court of Thorns and Roses (or ACOTAR) and Throne of Glass series, this series is set in an urban and more modern-day setting. Although this took some getting used to, I came to enjoy the relatable modern-day additions such as texting and reality television. Both books include little details on the complex magic system, including different types of magical beings and elements that I found to be really engaging. My favorite of these additions was Bryce’s pet chimera that had a lot of attitude and helped to show Bryce’s more nurturing side.
House of Earth and Blood is mainly a mystery with a romance side plot. Since I am used to more war or politics-based fantasy books, it was a little mundane and boring to me. However, I still really enjoyed it and see why it was needed to set up the second book. The second book, House of Sky and Breath, delves more deeply into the romance and politics of the world and I thought it was more similar to other books I have read by Maas. The reader gets to learn about how the different magical beings interact and about the ruling class of the Asteri. Both books include developed side characters such as a wolf-shifter and mer-man that add a lot to the story and the world as a whole. The ending of House of Sky and Breath left me shocked and in awe of Maas. Those of you who have read her other books will understand why when you get to the end of this book. This ending has left me waiting on the edge of my seat for the third book, House of Flame and Shadow, to come out on January 30th. Overall, both of these books were five star reads for me. However, I would recommend starting with one of Maas’s other series first, as these books were a little harder to follow due to their complex magic systems and large cast of characters. My personal reading order was ACOTAR, then Throne of Glass, and then Crescent City and I found this to make the most sense and be most widely recommended. If you are a fantasy reader looking for a new read, please pick up the Crescent City series!
Emma Robinson is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].