Book 24 on My Book List 2021
“Through love, all is possible.”
To be honest I don’t even know where to start with this review. This book was great in so many different ways that I’m having a really tough time to sort my thoughts and feelings. What I can definitely tell you is that this book is one of the slower ones. It has 803 pages and up to page 500 every single one of them is used to build up the plot and to introduce all the characters. I know a lot of other people who reviewed “House of Earth and Blood” actually didn’t like this long build up and saw it as a huge flaw but personally I think that it was important for the storyline.
Are 500 pages to introduce the characters and the world setting too long? Maybe. But in this book it worked for me. I guess everyone who ever read high fantasy knows that plenty of pages go into the history of the MCs and the world building. (Quite honestly sometimes you’d even get pages of descriptions of the surroundings. I’m looking at you LOTR!!! *lol*) Every info I got in HOEAB was interesting and important for the plot though so I’m definitely not complaining. 😉
Even the least important characters and side-characters had history and I was living and breathing for it. Sure, there are some characters like Tharion, Aidas and Queen Hypaxia I’d love to hear more about (and I’m sure I will in the next book) but considering the many different groups and the complexity of the world Sarah actually did a great job. This said the last 300 pages just about killed me and I couldn’t have stopped reading even if my life would have depended on it. *lol* Yes, it was THAT suspenseful. Quite honestly I have no idea how Sarah wants to top this book!!?? I mean this was book one in a series and my expectations for book two are so high they are scratching the sky. XD Before I think about the next book let’s speak about this one first, okay?! ;-P
Welcome to Crescent City! The city of many possibilities and ALL the spoilers! *lol* So if you don’t want to be spoiled and haven’t read the book yet, I’d recommend to take the next bus out of town because this is going to be a spoiler festival! XD You’ve been warned! 😉
Hunt’s stare lifted to her own again. “Do you own any weapons?” The purely male gleam in his eye told her that he assumed she didn’t.
“Bother me again,” she said sweetly, just before she shut the window in his face, “and you’ll find out.”
I love Bryce so freaking much, I can’t even! This girl is the BEST! I love as good as everything about her and her many flaws only made her even more likable in my eyes! This is a character I could totally relate to and she felt very real! I mean she’s stubborn, clever, resilient, funny, loyal and compassionate. Yes, at times she’s even reckless but it’s all just limited to pushing her boundaries. She never really goes overboard unlike some of Sarah’s other characters and that was really refreshing. Bryce is a very self-confident character and knows exactly what she wants and she’s not only working hard but also has both feet on the ground. The way she dealt with Micah?! OMG!!! That’s a fierce woman right there! *lol* I respect her character and I hope we’ll get to see even more of it in the next book!
”It’s easier for me – when people assume the worst about what I am. It lets me see who they really are.”
”In the harsh bathroom firstlights, his light brown skin was pallid under the black band of thorns across his brow. The tattoo, he’d learned to live with. But he shrank from the look in his dark eyes. Glazed. Empty. Like staring into Hel.”
I kinda liked his nickname. Umbra Mortis definitely has some ring to it. *lol* This said I also think in many ways Hunt was the broken, powerful “alphahole” Sarah J. Maas has written about so often. Just like with Rowan and Rhysand his background story is heavy and quite violent which was no surprise because obviously Sarah likes to write about men with baggage. ;-P Of course I still liked him and rooted for his character he just reminded me a lot of all the other men Sarah wrote about. What I certainly didn’t expect was his betrayal and the fact that he knew about the drugs all along! This came as such a surprise and his involvement totally threw me. XD Then again it probably shouldn’t have surprised me. After all he didn’t regret any of his actions and said so multiple times. I wonder where Sarah will go with his character in future.
”By the time Ramuel decided to let me serve as his assassin, it had been nine years since I’d seen sunlight. Since I’d heard the wind or smelled the rain. Since I’d seen grass, or a river, or a mountain. Since I’d flown.”
”There were some of the Fallen who accepted the halo and slave tattoo, you know. After a few decades, they accepted it. Stopped fighting it.”
“Why have you never stopped?”
“Because we were right then, and we’re still right now. Shahar was only the spear point. I followed her blindly into a battle we could never have won, but I believed in what she stood for.”
”It was unheard of, for a shifter to have that sort of power, yet all the standard childhood tests had confirmed it: once Danika Dropped, she’d become a considerable power among the wolves, the likes of which had not been seen since the elder days across the sea.“
If I’m completely honest I probably would have married Danika before dating Bryce! *lol* I loved her character so much and I really wish there would have been even more of her. I mean I already knew Danika was going to die, but I wasn’t prepared of how fast I’d grow fond of her and her pack! She was such an amazing person and her death was horrible. >_< At least as horrible as her own mother! I swear, Sabine certainly didn’t make it easy to like her. If there is even the slightest possibility that Danika gets reborn and reappears in the next book I’d be so here for it. XD Is it possible, Sarah? Please! *makes huge puppy eyes*
”Her goal was to protect you. Always. Even from yourself.“
”She and the commander of her triarii, Pollux, take cruelty and punishment to new levels.” He clenched his jaw, shaking off the blood-soaked memories. “They’re not stories to tell on a busy street.” Or at all.”
That angel most definitely was no angel at all and should have burned in Hel. I hated Sandriel with a fierce passion and I really wish she would have died in the rebellion! It’s not right that a cruel person like her was that powerful and even though she got what she deserved I still think that her death was too quick. She should have gone to prison for eternity and not died that quickly. >_< Well, she’s dead now and won’t cause any more trouble. XD
Tharion, Queen Hypaxia & Aidas:
Aidas had nearly vanished into nothing when he added, the words a ghost slithering through the room, “The Oracle did not see. But I did.”
Okay, those three were just side characters but each one of them was super intriguing and I would have loved to get more of their background story!!! Like seriously! Just give me more! Aidas the Prince of the Chasm was one hell of an interesting character and Tharion as well as Queen Hypaxia easily won me over as well. I always knew that med witch was suspicious but I didn’t even think about the possibility that she might be Ruhn’s betrothed. *lol* Let’s hope all of them will be a part of the next book! ❤
Tharion crossed his arms, muscles rippling beneath his black long-sleeved T-shirt. After the initial parade and that first day of endless meetings, most of them had donned far less formal wear for the rest of the talks. “I know the costs of war, Governor.” Bold male, to say that, to look Sandriel dead in the eye.
Bryce & Hunt:
”Hey.” Hunt knelt at Bryce’s side. He reached for her shoulder, but lowered his hand. How many people ever saw the hands of the Umbra Mortis reach for them with no hint of violence?
What I really loved about their relationship is that it grew steadily. There was no insta-love or some unnecessary drama. They started out as two strangers that both knew about the other’s reputation and didn’t trust each other. The more they got to know each other and the more time they spent together, the more they started to see the true person behind all their bravado though. It was so refreshing to see them develop a really close friendship. Sure, there was attraction but it was just a part of their friendship and didn’t define it. I adored how they started to take pictures of each other to make new memories and how just to be around each other helped them to deal with their problems. They both had a lot on their plate but together they managed to pull through it. I still can’t believe that Hunt was in on the dugs though. That was quite a shocker and I’m kind of worried Sarah will pull a typical Maas and make us dislike Hunt in the next book. So far all her books started out with a love interest the MC would die for and then she ended up with someone completely different. *lol* It would be such a shame if that happened in here too. I guess only time will tell. XD
”Only sorrow lay here. And something like understanding. Like she saw him, as he’d seen her in that shooting gallery, marked every broken shard and didn’t mind the jagged bits. Under the table, the toe of her high hell brushed against his boot. A little confirmation that yes – she saw his guilt, the pain, and she wouldn’t shy from it. His chest tightened.”
”And she tried not to look too shocked when he laid his head on her thigh, his arm coming across her to rest on the pillow. A child laying his head on his mother’s lap. A friend looking for any sort of reassuring contact to remind him that he was a living being. A good person, no matter what they made him do.”
”We don’t take that risk,” Hunt snarled. “We’ll figure out how to get the venom another way.”
“I can handle myself – “
“I can’t fucking handle myself, Quinlan. Not if you might be in danger.”
”You’re my friend. Who watches trashy TV with me and puts up with my shit. You’re the person I don’t need to explain myself to – not when it matters. You see everything I am, and you don’t run away from it.”
He smiled at her, let it convey everything that glowed inside him at her words. “I like that.”
Bryce & Ruhn:
”He’d wounded her, and it had scared the Hel out of her that he held such power. That she had wanted so many things from him, imagined so many things with her brother – adventures and holidays and ordinary moments – and he had the ability to rip it all away.”
Ahhh I absolutely loved this sibling bond! I mean yes, at the beginning of the book Bryce is keeping her distance to Ruhn and doesn’t want to have to do anything with him, but to be honest the reason for that was pretty shady if you ask me. I mean yes, they had a fight, but it’s no reason to avoid your brother for years. XD The explanation why she brushed him off was pretty lame but then again there are siblings in real life that don’t talk with each other for ages because of one silly thing. Believe me I’ve seen it – siblings that didn’t talk to each other for 30 years because of some minor matter and died without reconciling – so I suppose it might be realistic after all. I’m just glad Ruhn and Bryce are talking again and I definitely want to find out more about Ruhn in the next book. He was just a small part in here and I’m very curious about him and his life. Also I really thought Ruhn might be bi or pan but then Queen Hypaxia appeared and I guess that’s it. >_< I’m pretty certain my queer ass won’t see a real LGBTQ+ pairing in this series as well. Which is a shame but then again it’s probably better if Sarah doesn’t write them. I mean not every straight author can pull off a realistic queer rep so I respect her for steering clear of it. It takes guts to say “no” and to know your own limits. 😉
From the pure devastation on Ruhn’s face, her brother hadn’t known, either.
“Tell Ruhn I forgive him,” Bryce said, shaking again. Tears streamed down the prince’s face.
“I forgave him a long time ago,” Bryce said. “I just didn’t know how to tell him. Tell him I’m sorry I hid the truth, and that I only did it because I love him and didn’t want to take anything away from him. He’ll always be the better one of us.”
”His blue eyes gleamed in the streetlights, dawn still far off. A breeze off the Istros ruffled his black hair. And it was the tears that filled his eyes, the wonder in them, that had Bryce launching forward. Had her throwing her arms around her brother and holding him tightly.
Ruhn didn’t hesitate before his arms came around her. He shook so badly that she knew he was crying.”
Bryce & Syrinx & Lehabah:
”My friends are with me and I am not afraid.”
THOSE THREE BROKE MY FREAKING HEART!!!! AHHHH!! I’m still crying for Lehabah!!! This little precious fire sprite!!! I can’t!!! T_T I loved Lehabah so much! She was so fierce and compassionate and had quite an attitude but ahh that only made her even more likeable! I loved that she always called out Bryce on her coldness and unfriendly behaviour and that she was such a gossip. *lol* I can’t believe she died and the scene when she fought to give Bryce those precious seconds had me in tears. I was SOBBING reading that scene!!! SOBBING! T_T I’m still not over it. I guess I’ll never be. Also Syrinx is such a precious creature! <333 I want a Syrinx as well!
The words rippled through the library as Bryce wept. “I traded with Jesiba for your freedom last week. I have the papers in my desk. I wanted to throw a party for it – to surprise you.” The bathroom door began warping, bending. Bryce sobbed, “I bought you, and now I set you free, Lehabah.”
Lehabah’s smile didn’t falter. “I know,” she said. “I peeked in your drawer.”
And despite the monster trying to break loose behind them, Bryce chocked on a laugh before she begged, “You are a free person – you do not have to do this. You are free, Lehabah.”
Yet Lehabah remained at the foot of the stairs. “Then let the world know that my first act of freedom was to help my friends.”
Bryce & Danika:
”Bryce patted Danika’s silken head as she passed. Danika nipped her fingers, teeth flashing.
Bryce chuckled, entering the narrow kitchen.”
The bond between Danika and Bryce was so amazing!!! <333 I’m such a sucker for close friendships and found family and Danika and Bryce were like the embodiment of this trope! They had a friendship you rarely find and I count myself lucky to have the same kind of closeness with my bestie. The tender gestures, cuddling, hugging, all those physical gestures of affection but also the strong mental bond and spiritual closeness, it was all there with Bryce and Danika, which is the reason why I loved them both so much! <333 Ahh how I wish Danika wouldn’t have had to die. But that moment when Danika answered and told Bryce to “light it up”. OMG!!! She made the drop with her, from the other side she still helped Bryce and helped her to make the Drop!!! I can’t! I just can’t!!! Those two are killing me! <333 *weeps in a corner* I really wish Danika wouldn’t have died. T_T
”I know people don’t get it. It’s just … a light went out inside me when it happened. Danika wasn’t my sister, or my lover. But she was the one person that I knew would always pick up the phone, or call me back. She was the one person who made me feel brave because no matter what happened, no matter how bad or embarrassing or shitty it was, I knew that I had her in my corner. That if it all went to Hel, I could talk to her and it would be fine.”
She whispered. “I’m scared.”
Danika grabbed her hand again. “That’s the point of it, Bryce. Of life. To live, to love, knowing that it might all vanish tomorrow. It makes everything that much more precious.” She took Bryce’s face in her hands and pressed their brows together.
Bryce, Juniper & Fury:
”They’d never spoken of it. But Bryce wondered if Juniper had later told Fury how close it had been, how hard she’d worked to keep that phone call going while she raced over without alerting Bryce, sensing that something was wrong-wrong-wrong.
Bryce didn’t like to think about that winter. That night. But she would never stop being grateful for Juniper for that sense – that love that had kept her from making such a terrible, stupid mistake.
And here is the obligatory LGBTQ+ side character couple I kind of expected to appear in this book. Juniper and Fury are barely mentioned and then their relationship is dropped out of nowhere and even Bryce has a tough time to comprehend where it came from. *lol* Then again Sarah is probably steering clear of making an LGBTQ+ relationship the main focus because she might be worried she couldn’t pull it off. Idk. *shrugs* I really liked Bryce’s friendship with Juniper but Fury is a mystery to me and I kinda wish we would have seen more of both! They were so out of the plot they probably don’t even deserve the description “side character”. XD I genuinely hope well get to see more of them in the second book.
Fury hissed, “Juniper and I have something that is none of your fucking business.” Bryce refrained from gaping. Juniper had never hinted, never suggested – “I could no sooner stop talking to her than I could rip out my own fucking heart, okay?”
The grief rep:
”It’s not fine. I will never talk to her again. I think people expect me to be over it by now. but I can’t. Anytime I get anywhere close to the truth of my new reality, I want to space out again. To not have to be me. I can’t fucking dance anymore because it reminds me of her – of all the dancing we did together in clubs or on the streets or in our apartment or dorm. I don’t let myself dance anymore because it brought me joy, and … And I didn’t, I don’t, want to feel those things.”
I had to give the grief rep its own space because I think it was done really well! As someone who’s unfortunately quite familiar with grief this really hit close to home. The way Bryce mourned for Danika was so damn relatable… When you’re so close to someone, when you love someone as much as Bryce loved Danika to get through that grief seems to be impossible. The worst thing is that others grieve too but they move on faster than you do. It’s because their bond wasn’t as strong as yours and they can’t comprehend why you’re still in mourning after two years. They don’t understand… but I do. I’ve been there, done that and got the freaking t-shirt so this really hit me on a personal level. Sarah nailed it and I want to thank her for this realistic portrayal!
She said quietly, “I need to find who did this, Hunt.”
He met her raw, aching stare. “I know.”
“No,” she said hoarsely. “You don’t. I don’t care what Micah’s motives are – if I don’t find this fucking person, it is going to eat me alive.” Not the murderer or the demon, but the pain and grief that he was only starting to realize dwelled inside her.
”Hunt opened his mouth to tell Quinlan he understood. Not just the complicated relationship thing, but the loss. To wake up one morning surrounded by friends and his lover – and then to end the day with all of them dead. He understood how it gnawed on bones and blood and the very soul of a person. How nothing could ever make it right.”
“House of Earth and Blood” was quite something and I loved to read this book! Sarah tackled so many important and interesting topics and she did it in a very sensitive manner. It might have seemed to be a slow paced book up to the 500 pages mark but I think it was necessary to build up the story like that. I have absolutely no idea how Sarah J. Maas wants to top this book but I’m more than just willing to find out! *lol* Let’s hope the wait for “Crescent City 2” won’t be all too long. XD