Wednesday, May 27, 2020

DNF Review: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Title: House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) 
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 816
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Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.

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.

Well, this is awkward. I guess it's time for my first unpopular opinion review of 2020! I'm not Sarah J. Maas's biggest fan, but A Court of Thorns and Roses is (embarrassingly) one of my favorite books. I didn't enjoy the way that series ended, but the first book is one I've read over and over. I've also been reading the Throne of Glass series and have been mostly enjoying it, so I was hesitantly excited for Crescent City.

To start, why in the world is the series name the biggest thing on the cover? Why doesn't the title of the book look like the title of the book? I haven't heard a single person call this House of Earth and Blood. But I digress.

Let's dive into this 800+ page "adult" urban fantasy novel that is holding out at 4.47 stars on Goodreads as of this review being written. I didn't really know what I was getting into with this book, but I certainly wasn't expecting to be completely overwhelmed by swearing as soon as it began. It's as if Sarah J. Maas decided all she needed to make a book adult was an F-bomb every third sentence. And I'm not exaggerating. Fun fact(s) about me: I am an Air Force veteran who spent time in Afghanistan and I'm married to a sailor. I am no stranger to swearing and honestly have quite the vocabulary in the comfort of my home, but this book was extremely excessive for no good reason. There was no point in the amount of cussing shoehorned into Crescent City. It didn't add anything and came off as extremely unnatural and it took me a long while to get used to it. So that was strike one.

Have I mentioned that this book rings in at over 800 pages? For a first book in a series, that's quite a lot. In the past SJM series have begun relatively short and got longer as they went. This worked because the reader (me) had time to get invested in the characters before diving into such a massive book. There was plenty of time to get the backstory and the world building. For whatever reason, this time she dove right in with 800 pages and, let me tell you, not much happens at least for the first 300 of them, which is where I gave up. There's an awful lot of info dumping and characters being sad and talking about how gorgeous everyone is, but not much story to actually care about.

Speaking of the characters, Bryce Quinlan has red hair. I just need everyone to know that because all I got from the 300 pages I read was that she has red hair, nice legs, and likes pink underwear. Oh, and she hates "alphaholes" even though they're the only "males" she seems to be attracted to. Yes, despite all the criticism SJM has received for using the terms "male" and "female" in both her previous series, she still does it here and it's cringe.

Hunt Athalar, said alphahole, is Rhysand but worse, at least from what I've seen so far. Where Rhysand was at least "woke" and "feminist," Hunt is judgmental and overbearing. He has big wings and super strong powers. As much as I love Rhysand (and Rowan is growing on me, I guess), I felt nothing for Hunt at all. I'm not sure at what point there's supposed to be any chemistry whatsoever between Bryce and Hunt, but by page 300 there was nothing.

I know everyone and their brother loves this book, but I just could not get into it. The world building was so info dumped I couldn't tell you anything about it outside of the places Bryce visits and I literally couldn't care less about the characters. There's also kind of a murder mystery, but I didn't care enough about the characters to care about their motivations. I wanted to love this SO much, but it just was not for me. I was repeatedly told that it picks up 200 pages from the end, but no one should have to invest in reading 600 pages of an 800 page book for it to get good.