Review: Crescent City – House of Earth & Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Bound by blood. Tempted by desire. Unleashed by destiny.

44778083 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.

5 Stars

It’s been five days since I finished Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood and I’m still hungover. I mean, the sheer journey of it all; the struggle, the emotion – the freaking foreshadowing. Sarah J. Maas has officially out done herself.

Also, I am pretty much deceased. This is probably the best book I’ll read all year. And it’s march. Shit.

Anyway, prepare to strap in for what will, undoubtedly be, a seriously long, rambling review. In my defense: it’s a 800 page book so there’s at lot to unpack. Also, this review is 100% spoiler free because your girl’s got your back. So let’s get into it!

Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood marks Sarah’s maiden voyage through both adult fiction and urban fantasy. It’s a sprawling, complex novel of epic proportions that blends urban fantasy with a murder-mystery/buddy-cop twist. A roller coaster from start to finish, Crescent City will leave you gaping and clutching at straws as you work aimlessly to piece it all together – just as the rug is pulled right out from under you.

Crescent City opens with our main protagonist and badass extraordinaire Bryce Quinlan. Bryce is half human, half fae – basically the very bottom of the food chain in a dog-eat-dog world. Working as an antiques dealer by day, it’s not long before a catastrophic turn of events implements her in a gruesome murder, setting off a chain reaction that could potentially bring the city, already on the brink of war, to its knees. Teaming up with enslaved fallen angel and resident bad cop Hunt Athalar, Bryce must delve into her past to solve the case and stop the killer. Easier said than done.

So, here’s the tea – Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood sure as heck didn’t start out as a five star read. Let’s just get it out of the way.

If I’m being 100% transparent here, it took me the first hundred-or-so pages to really get into the immersive story and the morally grey characters. That being said, once I was in, I was HOOKED. As in line and sinker.

Despite being urban fantasy, Crescent City still boasts a very complex, very dense world. Also there is a LOT of info dumping and said info tends to float right over your head. In true Sarah fashion, we’ve got weird-ass fantasy names to memories [which I don’t hate], politics to learn and a supernatural metropolis brimming with mythical creatures. It’s a lot okay?

But the info dumping doesn’t last forever, and once you start to grasp the story you’ll quickly realize that Sarah plants literally EVERYTHING in those first chapters. I have to commend her foreshadowing because it’s all there, right under your nose. The killer, their motives, the weapon and their connection to Bryce – which is scattered like a trail of bread crumbs – won’t register. Just like the characters themselves, you’ll brush it off, paying little heed. Then, as the story progresses and the plot thickens it’s like BAM – GUESS WHO’S BACK BITCHES, and everything falls into place.

Basically, don’t be deterred by the first 10% – once you’ve trudged through the initial world building, the intricate, fully fleshed plot kicks off. AND IT’S SO WORTH IT.

Moving on…

For the record, I would like it noted that I was so freaking here for the sheer amount of cursing and swearing in Crescent City. I Don’t know what that says about me as a person. I mean, never underestimate the power of a well placed F-bomb. Sarah is 100% in her element when she’s using explicit language and it feels realistic, adding this thick layer of urgency. I mean, the stakes are high AF, it’s literally life or death – of course you’re dropping that F-bomb.

Swearing aside, Crescent City is an adult book boasting mature, extremely graphic content. We’re not in Kansas anymore kids. There are gruesome and detailed depictions of murder, we witness characters using recreational drugs and there’s a plot thread that explores slavery. It’s confronting, it’s different and I was LIVING for this gritty, darker novel.

And while we’re kinda on topic here, I have to address the elephant in the room: Sarah’s typical tropes. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. Her use of the words “male” and “mate”, the fact that her love interests are generally protective alpha-types – the snarls, growls and brooding. Look, I don’t hate it but I can understand why it cops so much criticism. Sarah addresses said tropes in Crescent City, going as far as to poke fun at herself by having Bryce criticize possessive behavior. It was basically a colossal “fuck you” to her haters and I stan.

Now I’m not going to go too in-depth with the characters. I want you to meet them for yourselves. What I will say is that I really came to feel for Bryce Quinlan and her inner struggle. Bryce starts off as this kind of unsuspecting wild child – she experiments with sex, alcohol and recreational drugs and underneath her layer of sass is a deeply insecure woman struggling with her grief. Her journey is a struggle but the payoff was so freaking worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

And don’t even get me started on Hunt Freaking Athalar. #stickaforkinmeimdone. #rowanwho? All I’m going to say I lived for the dynamic between Hunt and Bryce – it’s an epic friendship that may or may not develop into an oh-so-slow-burn romance. Screaming.

And before I wrap it up, let’s take a minuet to appreciate the fact that Crescent City DID NOT end on a gut-wrenching cliff hanger. I repeat: There is no cliff hanger. Hallelujah! Everything came full circle – all tied up in a nice, neat little bow which is just how I like it.

If you’re still with me I want to say thank you because I am aware that this review is a rambling mess. I had a lot of emotions, okay? At the end of it, Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood is a masterpiece. And it’s aware of it’s own tropes and flaws. We have some much needed mental health and LGBT representation with a lot of social commentary on equality in a sprawling urban world. Crescent City consumed me – I cannot recommend this sexy, gritty book enough. And spoiler alert: I’ll be re-reading it this year.

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14 thoughts on “Review: Crescent City – House of Earth & Blood by Sarah J. Maas

  1. I’m not going to lie, I have put the book down after the first few chapters because as you said there is a lot of info-dumping. But I love Maas’s other books and this review encourages me to pick it back up.

    On a side note, I’ve got to say I’ve always loved Sarah’s snarling, brooding fae, lol. It’s just a bit of fun. I mean if you’re going to write about non-human characters, what do you expect? Pick up any paranormal romance and it will have the same elements because that’s what some of us love. I mean, she writes really tough alpha females so I’m totally down with an alpha male or two. Got to love the F U at haters though, haha. #Rowanisbae

    Fantastic review. Looking forward to picking this back up and hopefully, fingers crossed, we’ll have the Nessian book sometime early next year too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha – me too. I low key live for the snarling and brooding. I mean, okay – I get why some people hate it but it’s just so much fun? I practically cackle every time Rhysand purrs or growls. I don’t know what that says about me but whatever! 😉 And her alpha females give me LIFE. I wish I could be as alluring and badass as Aelin, Feyre or Bryce!

      Thank you much for reading and leaving me a comment – I really hope you can push through all the info dumping! I promise it get’s better. You’ll also have a deeper appreciation for the beginning when you finish. I actually want to go back and re-read it. Also you’re going to have one hell of a hangover. If you thought ACOMAF was bad than think again! ❤ Can't wait to hear your thoughts.

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  2. Yessss! 🙌 I definitely think this is going to be my favorite of the year too ❤ I totally agree about the first 10% being an uphill climb. I definitely had to take notes to keep it all straight. But those last 300 pages were the most wild ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh 100%! Actually I really want to re-read Crescent City because I feel like now I’ll have a deeper appreciation for those first few chapters. Also, I’ve come to realize that I freaking love Danika and I’m still grieving. ❤ I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

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  3. I cackled at #rowanwho 😂 I’ve personally really come to love Sarah’s typical tropes. I’m sure it’s because I grew up on her books and they were my introduction to fantasy. But I alway’s know what I’m getting into when I pick up her books! It’s somewhat comforting. I’m excited for the mystery themes here and to see her do something different. AMAZING review as always Alex ❤

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    • Me too. Like, I can understand the backlash and whatnot but I low key live for her classic tropes. You’re so right – it makes her books unique and fun. I think this one will be right up your alley. It almost has this shadowhunter vibe. Also HUNT FREAKING ATHALAR IS LIFE. I can’t wait for you to meet him because I’m a sucker. Thanks so much for reading [lol as always] and for your lovely comment. ❤ x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I LOVE this! Appreciate that you think this is a hot mess of a review because it was SO well written – you need to read the notes I make when I read Cassie Clare books (they’re basically an incomprehensible jumble of fangirl squealing 😂) Another reason why you’re our fave is that even though you gave it 5 stars, you don’t overlook the negatives 😍

    Personally I’m a little over the Sarah J Maas tropes, but I still recognise that her writing is super addictive & her foreshadowing, even in her previous books, are genius! I’m so happy this book lived up to the hype for you! 😍

    💛 Ngoc

    Liked by 1 person

    • NAWWWWW YOU’RE MAKING ME CRY!!! 😭😭😭 Thank you so much Ngoc – that means a lot because I procrastinated over this review A LOT. I always try to give unbiased, well-rounded reviews because even five star books have flaws. And, those flaws might make or break the book for other readers. I want you to know what you’re in for as well as scream about why I love it. 😉

      I honestly feel like Crescent City will be right up your alley though because it has this very Shadowhunters, paranormal vibe to it. It’s like City of Bones on steroids – you’ve got this street-smart girl who teams up with a rebel angel-warrior to solve a mystery. A lot of the side characters actually reminded me of Shadowhunters too – but in the best possible way. There’s an underwater court, a city of bones-like place and even downworlder-like species stalking the night. I’d keep it in mind for a rainy day -or for quarantine! Hope you’re doing okay, love, your saltmate ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s so true, I know some of my book dealbreakers are just minor annoyances for other people, and vice versa 😛

        Ooohhh very interesting – I think Scribd has it so I might give it a shot as an audiobook in that case! I haven’t *completely* written off SJM as an author, but only because you love her so much and Nish and I love *you* so much 😂

        💛💛💛 Your saltmate

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