Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. By day, she works for an antiquities dealer, selling barely legal magical artifacts, and by night, she parties with her friends, savouring every pleasure Lunathion—otherwise known as Crescent City— has to offer. But it all comes crumbling down when a ruthless murder shakes the very foundations of the city—and Bryce’s world.
Two years later, her job has become a dead end, and she now seeks only blissful oblivion in the city’s most notorious nightclubs. But when the murderer attacks again, Bryce finds herself dragged into the investigation and paired with an infamous Fallen angel whose own brutal past haunts his every step.
Hunt Athalar, personal assassin for the Archangels, wants nothing to do with Bryce Quinlan, despite being ordered to protect her. She stands for everything he once rebelled against and seems more interested in partying than solving the murder, no matter how close to home it might hit. But Hunt soon realizes there’s far more to Bryce than meets the eye—and that he’s going to have to find a way to work with her if they want to solve this case.
As Bryce and Hunt race to untangle the mystery, they have no way of knowing the threads they tug ripple through the underbelly of the city, across warring continents, and down to the darkest levels of Hel, where things that have been sleeping for millennia are beginning to stir…
I had super high expectations for this book, it was one of my most anticipated reads for 2020. I kinda feel let down. I fully expected to adore this, I love SJM books and all the reviews were full of praises and 5-star ratings.
The first half, so like 400 pages, was SLOW. So very slow. I was reading this for 3 weeks and only got half way. It was a whole bunch of nothing going on. The first 80ish pages are really good and something unexpected happens, which gave me hope for a fast pace, engaging story but nope. After that initial blow, it slowed down dramatically.
The plot feels the same as ACOTAR and TOG. This book lacked originality in terms of plot and character, which is a shame as the world is really, really interesting. At this point, it feels like SJM is recycling plots and characters, the only thing that felt new in this story was the world. The addition of technology in a magical world was really well done and very different to her other worlds. The technology/ modern inspired setting definitely was unexpected. I didn’t hear anyone mention this and it wasn’t in the synopsis or anything, I fully expected it to be more ‘medieval’. I’m glad it wasn’t, it definitely added a lot to this otherwise not very original book.
This book is marketed as SJM’s first adult novel, but honestly, it doesn’t seem much different to her previous novels. I never felt SJM’s previous series were anything but YA, I know a lot of people say it’s not YA but it is in my opinion. At least, in the UK we have ‘teen’ and ‘young adult’ separate and her books fit into my idea of young adult. Other than the very prevalent drug use mentioned in this book, I don’t really see any ‘adult’ features. It’s nothing like any adult fantasy I’ve read, it is very similar to the YA adult fantasy books in terms of tropes and characters.
PLUS – there’s hardly any sex. This was a huge surprise to me, I fully expected it to be steamier and graphically sexual since this is marketed as adult fantasy and SJM’s YA is filled with sex. Kind of disappointed, kind of not. Some of SJM’s sex scenes are fine and some outrageously cringe, so there’s not a lot of that!
The thing I hated the most?
No one can just be normal/average/etc. Everyone has to be someone special, royalty or overpowered. No one can be average looking or below, everyone is obscenely good looking and wanted by anyone who crossing their path. Weaknesses? Doesn’t exist in the SJM universe. This makes the plot and reveals pretty predictable, you just know *something* will happen to the character and boom they’re special/over powered etc.
This review sounds mostly negative. It was decent. Once it picked up it was very good and addicting. Like I said at the beginning, it takes 400+ pages to get good, that’s too much in my opinion. It took me a MONTH to get half way through, I read the remaining half in a day, that’s how much it picks up. It goes from 0 to 100 half way through. This book could’ve been great with some good editing, it need like 300 pages cut out, which would’ve improved it by 50%.
Another thing I liked, the different species (?)/creature in this world. There’s fae, demi-fae, angels, wolf-shifters, vampires, etc etc. I wish there was more world-building, for such a chunky book there is a lack of good world-building. The world is interesting SJM, EXPLAIN IT. Tell me more! I hope we get more in the next one.
Also, there were some really beautiful and emotional moments. One thing SJM excels at is making me emotional, I don’t cry or get upset often but this did have me tear up a bit.
Finally, there were really great quotes throughout!
My favourite is: “Through love, all is possible.”
Let’s talk about the characters:
I like Bryce, she’s a great character. It took me a while to connect to her but I definitely did by half way through. Her grief and depression was very well written and I could sympathise with and relate to Bryce on this aspect.
BUT – she is just a hybrid of Aelin + Feyre.
I do like sassy, confident female characters, so that’s not a complaint from me but she is very much like Aelin.
And here we have a Rhys and Rowan hybrid.
I liked Hunt, I really did but was his any different to SJM’s other men? Not by much. HOWEVER, I feel like he’s the only love interest that doesn’t start off as an abusive ass? *cough* Rowan *cough*
I think Hunt may be my favourite SJM main character love interest… he’s not quite my favourite male (vom) but he’s up there with Dorian.
Danika: I wish we had more, I actually really liked Danika. I really loved the friendship between her and Bryce. The emphasis of friendship in this novel was really nice to see! There’s a lack of strong female friendships in fantasy!
But again, she is like Aelin.
Fury: Basically Amren, at least that’s the vibe I got.
Ruhn: Emo/Edgy Aedion
Oh, and everybody is white… Are we surprised?
Is this my favourite SJM novel? No.
Will I continue the series? Yeah, definitely. It has potential and I actually have no idea where this story will go. From the comments I’d heard about House of Earth and Blood I fully expected a huge cliffhanger but there wasn’t. There wasn’t really anything to hook the reader on, despite the epilogue. However, I shall continue!
Rating: 2 Stars
I have absolutely no interest in book 2. Will I read it? Probably not.
The more I thought about this book the more I hated it. There’s just nothing to like. The book dragged. It was completely forgettable, I genuinely remember nothing. It was poorly written, badly edited and was about 400 pages too long.
I think I’ve outgrown SJM. I disagree with her views. She’s very problematic and I won’t be supporting her going forward. I have stopped sharing her books on my Bookstagram, although I loved ACOTAR + TOG, I am happy to just look back on those with fond memories.
I’d probably lower my rating for HOEAB to 1 Star now. It’s insanely overrated and overhyped!