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.
I have to say that I went into this with an element of trepidation, what if I don’t love this as much as her other series? It’s a more contemporary setting which I’m not a fan of usually? Honestly I can say that from the first few chapters I knew my worries were unfounded and I should put trust in Sarah J Maas as a storyteller – she’s done it again.
I do admit though that I did intially struggle to warm to Bryce and Hunt but I feel like that was by design, Bryce starts as a party girl brat and Hunt as your standard “Alphahole” but as the story progresses real care is taken with how they came to be that way. As is now her staple, Maas deals with recovery from trauma and mental health effectively and with great empathy, sealing these characters into my heart. As readers we are growing and changing with them, given time to understand and the mutual respect of boundaries and waiting until the time is right, in a slow burn that will give even Rhys and Feyre a run for their money. Given that slow burn is my favourite romance trope this was a huge tick in the box for me.
I have seen people feel intimated by the size of the book, honestly don’t. Considering it’s size it’s actually a quick read, personally I felt that there was very little drag or that anything was redundant and everything that happens serves to push the story forward, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. This is such a great story though and the way I had it pegged at the start couldn’t have been more wrong, the cosmopolitan setting of Crescent City bringing about a huge diversity in the breadth of characters from Otter delivery people to sassy fire sprites, there’s a lot to get your head round outside of the usual Fae we’ve become accustomed to. The seedy underworld element that Bryce and Hunt must trawl through during their investigations is reminiscent of Gotham City and perhaps an inspiration taken from Maas’s earlier DC outing. The investigation itself is as page turning and twisting as many of the best in the thriller genre. Utterly nail biting and ultimately heartbreaking, each piece of the puzzle is another gut punch revelation.
The cast of supporting characters is pretty vast but they all very much have their part to play, I have to admit that I’m very taken with Bryce’s brother Ruhn, I just can’t let the fae thing go! Jesiba and Fury were real standouts though especially in the closing stages. Bryce also undergoes one of the biggest character arcs I think I’ve ever read, get ready to get emotional again. Because lets face it, that’s what Sarah J Maas does to me. I’m not ashamed to say that this book made my cry a fair bit at times, the painstaking care taken with the characters encompassing me wholly with my emotional attachment to them. The final part had my heart racing with each reveal and twist and a large lump in my throat for most of it too.
Ultimately, I don’t think I could have loved this story more (well actually maybe I could as I was expecting a bit more steam given it’s NA but oh well) but, House of Earth and Blood is everything you have come to have known and loved about Sarah J Maas’s writing but with some graphic violence and a few more swears.