Welcome to the planet of Midgard, where Crescent city lies on the continent of Valbara. Describing in rich and vivid detail, Sarah J Maas brings to life a complex fantasy world, inviting the readers to take a deep dive into exploring the Crescent City.
Sprawling over four parts and an epilogue, it’s a mammoth read over 803 pages. Being the first book of the Crescent City series, Maas tries to build the world in rich detail. Still, sometimes the readers are left confused at the sheer volume of new terminologies and characters thrown at the turn of every page in the beginning. The author assumes that the readers are well aware of the references(e.g., at the very start, when four houses of Midgard are explained, which were decreed in 33rd V.E. it is assumed that the readers know what V.E. is. It is only later that one catches their references as the story progresses). Slowly one understands and appreciates the characters and underlying themes.
Part one of the story begins with Bryce and her friends, highlighting their extravagant partying lifestyle in Crescent City. The bond between Danika and Bryce is the epitome of a selfless, mutually respecting and loving friendship. Bryce’s and Danika’s life was good with other characters of Danika’s pack of wolves and friends outside the wolfpack. They danced, partied, had drugs and were together through the various shades of life. As a reader, one can’t help but fall in love with the beautiful characters introduced in this part. But as one starts coming to terms with the complex world being spun around, a demon murders the closest friends of Bryce(don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler, as it’s mentioned on the book back-cover itself), the whole world is turned upside down.
In around two years, Bryce is still struggling with the tragedy and leading an everyday life. The murders on the same pattern start happening again. Bryce joins up hands with Hunt Athalar-a Malakim(another central character of the storyline) and gets involved in the investigation to uncover the identity of the killer and the connection between the murders. What follows is a tale of love, friendship, emotions, murders, and twists. Friendship and relationships are the highlights of the novel. To support the storytelling, it has well-developed characters with complex personalities.
Bryce Quinlan is the ‘beating heart’ of the storyline is geniunely one hel of a character. Her character development, little emotions, deep thoughts, traumas and daily struggle, sex(yes, it’s an adult fantasy, even the sex scenes are described in rich detail, leaving nothing to the imagination) everything about her is so well developed. By the end of the book, you fall in love with her; if the world is falling apart and you want one person to stand by your side, it has to be Bryce Quinlan. No matter what, she doesn’t leave behind anyone she loves; even if it requires summoning the darkest levels of hel or fight the hel itself, she will do it all as for her through love, all is possible. And all that when she is just a mortal who can die any instant but throwing all that aside, she just throws herself all out for her loved ones. Her character is so much layered, and with each passing chapter, you peel off one layer at a time and keep falling in love with her. She has become one of my favourite characters in a long time who leaves so much impact on the storyline and readers.
It’s my first experience with Sarah J Maas’s works, and I enjoyed it to the fullest though, her fans have complained about how much House of Earth and Blood is a mashup of her earlier works. It has intrigued me enough to follow up this series.
The editing could have been better; the novel’s length could easily be reduced by some 150-200 pages at least. As there were moments when the story was just not progressing, mundane things and thoughts described in great detail do not contribute to any progress of the story, nor do they add to any overall reading experience.
But overall, it’s a great read. By their very nature, Fantasies are complex and require commitment from both the writer and readers for a fruitful and enjoyable reading experience. SJM deserves total points in establishing the realm of Midgard, containing the continents of Valbara and Pangera, which in turn have Crescent City and Eternal City, respectively. The world is full of humans, drugs, nightclubs, temples, magical creatures, Vanirs, monsters from hel, Asteri, Angels, Archangels, and many characters that are sure to keep the reader occupied, and the twist and turns of the plot will keep them on their toes.
- Total pages: 803
- Genre: Fantasy
- House of Earth and Blood : Crescent City – Sarah J. Maas