Review : House of Earth and Blood (Waterstones edition) by Sarah J. Maas

“𝙇𝙤𝙤𝙠 𝙩𝙤𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙞𝙩 𝙝𝙪𝙧𝙩𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙢𝙤𝙨𝙩. 𝙏𝙝𝙖𝙩’𝙨 𝙖𝙡𝙬𝙖𝙮𝙨 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙖𝙧𝙚.”

  • Release date : March 3rd 2020
  • Publishing house : Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Series : Crescent City
  • Number of pages : 803
  • Illustrator : Carlos Quevedo

Spoilers ahead

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.

Characters :

Bryce Quinlan : Reading the first 100 pages, I did not like her and her friend Danika. The way it was said, I had the impression of reading a teenager’s account of her life. Sex, sex, sex, alcohol, drugs… I was very afraid of having to read this kind of thing during 800 pages. But as the book went on, she grew more interesting as a demon kill Danika (who is essentially one of the strongest characters of the city) and her friends (who are also very strong). Two years later, she lives, with only one friend in her life : a Juniper, a flat paid by Danika and works as a witch’s assistant.

Being a half-breed and powerless, she was shunned from both sides, the Fae and the human. Most of her friends hate her because while she said yes to go on a date with Connor, she was also fucking another one in the toilet of a club. Moreover, a lot of them hold her responsible for corrupting Danika and preventing Danika from hearing the demon while the truth of her death is completely different.

Bryce starts at the bottom and is trying to work her way to the top by finding her place in the world. Caged in her grief, depression, and her self-sacrificing behaviour, she is a shadow of what she was before. She does not dance anymore, she does not drink nor party, she does not have friends, she does not live anymore. The depiction of serious issues such as loss or trauma were well portrayed and they added depth to her character. At the end, she finally seems somewhat free of the guilt she built over the years.

Hunt Athalar : On the other hand, Hunt Athalar is a full Fae. Born as an angel, his lightning gift set him apart from other angels. Two hundred years ago, he was the general of an army wanting to remove the hierarchy of power and status between the different races. Failing, the leader of the rebellion (Hunt’s lover) was killed, and what was left of them was reduced to slavery and given to several Archangels to do whatever they wanted of them (torture, executions, taking part in dangerous games, etc). A magical tattoo was branded around his head, distinguishing him as a Fallen and limiting his powers.

Now part of an Angel regiment, he obeys the Archangel Micah and is paired with Bryce to resolve the multiple murders. Like Bryce, there is a real progression along the story. At first, he only sees her as a party girl, an idiot and even a suspect despite not knowing her a lot. But as his relationship with Bryce deepens, he realises that both of them are alike. Both of them have serious issues, destroying their very self. Both of them begin to get closer and to comfort each other. Despite being described as a tough, alpha male, etc, he has touching moments (when he comes back from killing several men on Micah’s orders for instance) showing his issues and the fact that he has trouble dealing with them. Still haunted by what happened centuries ago, he can’t stop himself from making a mistake : buying the gruesome drug which could shift the balance of power to try once again to rebel. At first, I was disappointed in him for choosing his rebellion over his new life, but after reading the end, I’m glad for him !

Story :

I’ll begin by stating what I did not really like. First off, there was too MUCH swearing, you could not find a page without a « fuck » or a « fucking ». I also don’t get why she uses adjectives such as « male » or « female », it dehumanises the characters and it felt strange. I know a lot of fantasy writers do this and I don’t understand this habit of them. The last thing I want to talk about is the characters and their habit of asking if what’s-his name fucked Thingy as soon as they speak of them or see them for the first time.

Set in Crescent City, a city governed by immortal beings and where humans are inferior citizens, we follow Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar who have to resolve a series of crimes before the Archangels’ summit. But nothing is as it seems and these crimes might be linked to something even darker.

The worldbuilding is extensive and interesting. But if you really want to understand everything, focus on the book, otherwise the info dumping (especially at the beginning) will lose you. All the little details about the way things work in the city added depth to the world. I really had the impression of a city buzzing with activity. The Valbara territory is composed of three realms : the mer living in the ocean, the Reapers and the dead in the Bone Quarter and finally, the resident of Lunathion (or Crescent City). Every one of them is governed by six (seven before but she was killed) all-powerful creatures leading their territory with an iron hand.

As to the flow of the book, it’s inconsistent. There were some lengthy passages which could have been condensed. On the other hand, she found a good balance between the story arc and the character development as the relationship between Bryce and Hunt had enough depth to be real.

Note : 4 sur 5.

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