Synopsis: 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. (Amazon)
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Rating: 5 stars
***BEWARE POSSIBLE SPOILERS***
Being the fan of an author's work is both a blessing and a curse. You count down the days until their next—usually hyped up—release is to be published. You talk about it more and more the closer that said release day approaches. You try to enter any possible pre-order special is available, in the hope of getting a lovely exclusive pin, or a poster, or a print.
And then the book releases...
I don't know about you, but once that book hits shelves, I am violently torn between a crazed eagerness to read it, and a nearly crippling fear that I am going to hate the book no matter how much I have loved this author's stories in the past. Which, let's face it, is one of the worst things to happen in a reader's life.
Thank you, Maas, for delivering the goods once again.
House of Earth and Blood is not a perfect novel. I'm not even sure that such a thing is possible, to be frank, because our love of books is a very personal thing. But, this novel is a punch to the heart, in the best possible way. I absolutely fell in love with the story, with the characters, with the world that was created. And it is definitely a complex and intricate world of which we get a glimpse, but that is sure to open up to us even more, and I cannot wait to continue exploring it as the series progresses.
I'm a huge fan of badass female leads in novels. What can I say, I live vicariously through them. Ironically, I usually don't like so-called “badass” female leads in novels, because most of the time what we're given are annoying females that try too hard. I initially read the sample for HoEaB that NetGalley provided, and I was a bit unsure about Bryce. She came off a tad strong for me, and I was instantly worried that this meant negativity throughout the rest of the novel. Maybe my mindset was not in its proper place then, but I am so glad that I decided to read the full novel from the first chapter again, because my opinion of Bryce completely changed.
I love this woman.
Despite the fact that we are reading a fantasy, despite the fact that Bryce is half-Fae, she is very human in her actions and emotions. She makes her mistakes, she suffers through them, she learns, she picks herself back up, puts on a new pair of teal-colored panties, and she keeps going. She's believable and realistic in who she is, and it's very easy to become connected to her.
This is actually true of the rest of the characters. They don't always connect right away—I was unsure of Hunt at first, of Ruhn, of Jesiba even—but once they do, they stick and you root for these people. You suffer with them, you are excited alongside them, you want them to kick ass and come out winning on the other side.
Hunt—or as I like to think of him in my head, Orion...such a gorgeous name—had one of the best evolutions. I can see that Maas wanted to make him this dark, introverted being at the beginning, and I saw hints of it, but I couldn't quite see him that way full-force. I think that's one of the things that made me question him for those first few chapters of his appearance in-story. I see what you want me to see, because you're telling me what to see, but that's not really who he is, and that's coming out more so than the facade he's portraying. Athie is a deep, tortured, sweet and loving male who slowly opens up to the reader, and he swept me right off my feet.
That's probably why the sudden twist at the end of the novel's third part was such a slap to the face, and the biggest problem that I had with this book.
We're navigating a story that's centered around the death of Bryce's best friend, Danika, and her pack of shape-shifting wolves—one of the most heartbreaking moments of the book, by the way, even if the synopsis warns us about it (the writing in this piece, at the start, was wonderfully done and it tore through me). Eventually, we know that Danika's death, and that of the pack, is surrounded by the use of a drug called synth, which makes people—both human and non—have strength and violence to such a degree that they can tear others apart. And the culmination of that is that Hunt is involved in this so that he, and those with him, can use this drug to help themselves be freed from those who have enslaved them.
It did not fit with his character.
Hunt, who strives to keep others safe, who works and does the horrible things that his handler, Micah, tells him to do so that he can keeps streets safe? Hunt, who deals in killing demons that come through rifts? Yes, he has been suffering for over two hundred years, and he has been tortured within an inch of his life, and the love of his life was killed in the midst of this. But to make him be a buyer, when he comes to know the consequences of the usage of synth, did not fit in with who he is. As the last part of the novel progressed, things were smoothed out a bit and it sort of fit in. But this nagged at me so much that I was not able to let it go.
I did, as a matter of fact, stop reading for the day once I hit this point, and had to force myself to pick up the book again the next day so that I could continue.
It doesn't take away from the story, mind you. I said it once, and I say it again, I love this book. I felt every single emotion that was in here, and that's one of the best things that I can ever ask for in a story: make me feel. And you certainly feel. You feel to the point of tears sometimes. Lehabah's end did it for me, that little fire sprite was one of the good ones. Bryce's phone call to Hunt when she's in the middle of taking out demons after the Gates open and knows she might very well die, did it for me again. Danika and Bryce's reunion after Bryce makes her Drop did it for me a third time. And then that bittersweet moment, near the end of the book, when Bryce gets just a glimpse of the pack and Connor waves to her, brought tears to my eyes once again.
But I still think that there is, and was, so much to explore. And while we're taken to the brink of those moments that can be darker, like the ones that Hunt described having experienced during his years with Sandriel alongside Pollux, we're not taken there. It's not that I want to see my beloved characters suffer, it's that sometimes that suffering can have room for that much more growth. Sometimes when we bypass that, things appear a little too easy.
At the end of the day, though, this was stellar. My worry was for nothing, and I am going to be suffering until the second book is so much as announced. I'm still not over the losses in this first installment, I still remember the epic scene of Bryce against Micah, of Hunt's plummet over that helicopter, of Lehabah's sacrifice. I am so curious to see how the obscure Aidas ties in with this story and what more he has to offer, and I can't even imagine how the Asteri will likely play a part in the future of this world.
Bring it on, Crescent City. I'm waiting.