📚 House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Reviewed July 2020

Narrators: Elizabeth Evans
Length: 27 hours 50 minutes
Publisher: Audible Original⎮2020

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Number one New York Times best-selling author Sarah J. Maas launches her brand-new CRESCENT CITY series with House of Earth and Blood: the story of half-Fae and half-human Bryce Quinlan as she seeks revenge in a contemporary fantasy world of magic, danger, and searing romance.

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' 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 pause-resisting suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by number one New York Times best-selling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom - and the power of love.

The Audiobookworm's Review

Rating: 4.75 Stars

I'll admit it. House of Earth and Blood surprised me. I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did. I like SJM's A Court of series well enough to have heard all three current installments, but the Throne of Glass series has never been my favorite. I'm currently two installments behind on that series. I plan to catch up at some point, but I'm just not super driven to do so right now. I guess I would say I am a fan of `SJM, but definitely not exactly a super fan, so I definitely did not feel obligated or predisposed to like her newest book.

House of Earth and Blood seems to have divided reviewers into polarities. Those raving about it seem to be the super fans who count the Throne of Glass series among their favorites, so I was fully expecting to have the opposite reaction. But that was before I realized how different this series would be from anything SJM has written in the past. House of Earth and Blood is a solid an Urban Fantasy series. I can't say I'm particularly drawn to Urban Fantasies, because I've never really read that many of them. Urban Fantasy was popular a few years back, but then the craze seemed to die down before I could get completely on board with it. The world Maas created in this story stands out to me more vividly than any of her other fantasy worlds because of its similarity to our own. It was so surreal to hear things like "modern science" and "instant messaging" used in the same sentence as "fae" and "archangel".

And speaking of the fae and archangels, they weren't the only supernatural species present. [Stefon voice] This story has it all. Witches, angels, fairies, shifters (werewolves), sphinxes, wraiths, faun, and a cute little fire sprite who initially seems like comic relief but comes in clutch at the end. In the past, stories with more than a couple of different species heavily on display have irritated me, but Maas actually made it work here. She categorizes them into separate houses, with each having a loyalty to their own species. This type of separation and classification helped prevent a free-for-all type chaos in my mind as I was listening and trying to keep everything straight. Unlike her other series, I actually connected with the secondary characters in House of Earth and Blood. I was able to follow the alternating POVs and keep the cast of characters straight in my head with ease.

But I kept my guard up for classic Maas-isms. Most fans will know that Maas usually pulls a romantic switcheroo at some point in the series, with the initial romantic interest not being endgame for our main character.  With that in mind, I tried not to become too attached to the inevitable pairing in this installment. I'm actually not opposed to this type of bait-and-switch done by Maas. In fact, I'd rather hope she pulls it off again. I enjoy a well-developed love triangle and I'm not overly fond of our male love interest in this particular installment. I don't mind him, but I still feel our protagonist could do better and I'm curious to see what/who else Maas may have in store for her.

There's certainly a lot left to explore in the world of Lunathion. I have a feeling each installment in this series will be named after one of the four houses of Midgard and because I formed such solid connections with all of the characters in the story, I'm excited to see which direction we go in next.

Narration review: Elizabeth Evans also narrates SJM's Throne of Glass series, so I'm familiar with her work. However, I think I enjoyed her narration more here than previously. In part because I enjoyed this story more, but I also feel that Evans talents were better suited for the Urban Fantasy subgenre. The grittiness of her tone just fits it more naturally, producing a more believable performance. SJM and Evans are quickly becoming a power duo in the audiobook world, like Philippa Gregory and Bianca Amato. This is a pairing that is continually growing on me and I can't wait to see what else they produce together. ♣︎

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