Review: Crescent City House of Earth and Blood by SJM

Today’s review is being brought to you by Gabbie (@gabbiesshelf), who has just recently finished Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood for the first time! Give her a big welcome, and I’ll link her socials down below!

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.

Buy the book here!

“My friends are with me and I am not afraid.”

Hello! Gabbie here! I have the pleasure of being the very first guest poster on The Barnacle Bookshelf.

As a first time reader of Crescent City, I am pleased to be able to write my thoughts out about the book and all of my many many feelings post reading this book. Warning, I am going to cuss throughout this post, so if you don’t like that, you might want to skip.

A little background on myself before we get into the review. I am a hardcore Sarah J Maas. Reader. After the not so subtle push from my friends, I finally read Throne of Glass almost a decade after the first book was published. I found the A Court of Thorns and Roses series on TikTok in late 2019. However I didn’t pick it up until early 2020 when we were all trapped inside.

I bet you’re asking yourself why this is important? Just trust me there is a point. After reading ACOTAR, I told myself I would read anything SJM released because she is such a fantastic writer. This leads me to Crescent City. Release day, March 3rd, 2020, I made my way to Target and picked up the book. It has been a year and four months since that day.

Even though I am a SJM fan, I was very skeptical of this book because of all of the things I was hearing about it. I wanted to start my review here because there are SO many things that people have said about this book. Pacing is slow, the world building takes SO LONG, the first 400 pages basically suck but the last 100 pages makes it all worth it and on and on. Everyone will make their own judgments, but as a first time reader of this book, I wanted to give you my full honest opinion of this book and that is that this book is truly fantastic.

Before I move any further, I want to put a warning here. I will have two parts to this review: A spoiler free zone and a spoiler heavy zone. You will be warned before the spoiler zone, but I am putting the first warning here.

Spoiler Free Zone

Rating:4 star, 2 fire Content Warnings: talks of Suicide, parental neglect/slight abuse, death and loss, drug use, some sexual content, gore and fowl language.

Crescent City is a contemporary fantasy set in the world of Lunathion, Crescent City.

Bryce Quinlan’s life is suddenly turned upside down when her friend is brutally murdered by a Demon. After two years, a similar crime sweeps Bryce back into the middle of the investigation in both these new deaths as well as the truth behind her best friend’s death. With the help of a fallen angel named Hunt Athalar, Bryce begins to unravel the messy truth behind these murders, revealing the true characters of those closest to them and the lengths that people will go to in order to protect what is important to them.

Let’s start with pacing, shall we. This is the thing that I heard the most about and what kept me from this book for so long. I found the pacing to be perfect. For some, I can understand why people were complaining. I heard over and over again that there is so much world building happening that it is just so slow and honestly boring for the first chunk of the book.

I found this to be wholly untrue. Yes, there were some spots that were slow. When my friends asked me to update them on how far I had gotten, I only found myself saying once that nothing big had happened to mark where I was. That being said, yes, the pacing can be a bit slow at times, but I didn’t find that to be a bad thing. I found it to be very realistic which I loved for this book. Considering it had a murder mystery thing going on, I loved the pacing of the book.

If I were to describe to you the pacing in a short sentence, I would describe it as an EDM song. EDM songs have all of this build up, the beat is building and building. You know it’s going to get good as the drop approaches and you feel wholly satisfied when the beat does eventually drop. This is how I felt during the book. The fact that the tension was building and the stakes continued to build higher, that kept the pacing moving for me.

The plot was really exciting. Something about SJM books though, without spoiling, I want to note that SJM really does have a formula she follows when she writes. I don’t want to say that to make you think that it’s all predictable, but I see a lot of similarities in the way she plans out her books after reading TOG and ACOTAR.

The plot of this book was really well done. It checked all of the boxes of a murder mystery that I love and then some. In addition to that, we got a lot of the romance stuff that Sarah does really well. I have a hard time reading murder mystery novels now because I feel that the plots can be so predictable. I want to read something that leaves my jaw hanging on the floor like “OMG! Never saw that one coming!”

SJM leaves me feeling that way often.

The characters are truly my favorite part about this. I almost hate myself writing this because it feels like a betrayal to both Aelin and Feyre, but I think Bryce is my favorite SJM female lead. The formula I have found in SJM books for a female lead is someone who has baggage, who’s had some sort of damage done to them and they start off the journey of the book usually at their breaking point or damn close to it.

Yes, Bryce had some of that, and I don’t want to discount the other female leads, but something about her was just so badass from start to finish. We find out more about this later in the book, but without spoiling it here, she’s a bad ass for a reason. She had this extra knowledge that she was hiding from both the other characters in the book and from us, the readers, that just made me say “Wow. *Women.*” Hunt is a good character too. I have lots of feelings about him, but unfortunately for you non spoiler folk, I am going to do most of my Hunt talk in the spoiler section.

One thing I tell myself when reading SJM books is to never get attached. If you’re a seasoned SJM reader, you will know what I mean by this. So going into it, I was very skeptical of Hunt. He’s kind of an ass. A lil judgy (read: a lot a bit judgy) and something about him just felt not fully right. I am going to leave it at that (evil laugh) because I can.

There are a lot of great side characters like Lehaba, Syrinx, the otters, the cat…. *wink wink* One thing Sarah always does really well is character development. This book was no exception. I am so very excited to see what happens next because I have a feeling it is going to be DAMN GOOD, but also heartbreaking because that is what Sarah does best.

To end the non spoiler section, I want to say here, if you love murder mystery, romance, sexual tension, real life with a large splash of magic and Sarah J Maas, you will love this book. I highly recommend it solely for the fact that Bryce is an amazing character with a fantastic story. Now if you haven’t read this book yet, you can leave now. Bye bye! Thank you for reading! XOXO Gabbie <3

You gone yet?

Spoiler Heavy Zone

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED! What the FUCK was that ending. UGH. This section may be a bit chaotic, but if you’ve listened to our podcast (Shameless plug) Chaos and Cocks on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, you’ll know we’re well accustomed to chaos.

So Hunt. I teased earlier that I wanted to do most of my Hunt talk in the spoiler section. I have a reason for that. Something about him is shady to me. Don’t get me wrong. I love him and feel like he could be a really good male lead to ship. However, I don’t fully trust him. Like I get he wanted to be free and take Micah down, but the fact that he was running this whole operation behind Bryce’s back makes me feel a bit suspicious of him.

Real talk here, after reading both ACOTAR and TOG I get mild Chad (Chaol) and Tamlin vibes. Like he could flip a switch. I say Chaol here because most people I have encountered feel this way about Chaol, however I am one of the few that actually likes Chaol. Besides the point. I get some small vibes that he could be sort of like an anti hero?

I can’t quite form the words that I feel, but I just don’t feel peace with that ending and with trusting Sarah is just going to tie a happy little bow around Hunt and Bryce. FUCK I hate that I feel that way. Some of my favorite parts of this book were all Bryce moments. Bryce vacuuming up Micah like no big deal? Like, girl! That was fantastic. The drop part was really cool as well. Going into this book, I heard a lot of people talking about “the drop” and this part with Danika. I know what they mean now, but that definitely wasn’t what I expected. However, I really loved it. And we all fucking knew Bryce was going to be someone with a ton of power. Not an ounce of magic? WRONG.

Anyways, I truly have to say this might be my favorite SJM book out of all the books I have read so far. MIGHT. Don’t hold me to that yet because we still haven’t gotten an Azriel or Lucien book yet and I’m a hoe for Az and Lucien. But I’m also a hoe for Bryce now, so right now it is my favorite. If you’re in this part, you don’t need convincing to read this…or you’re a sneak who doesn’t listen to directions and decided to spoil themselves anyways. Either way, I would 10/10 recommend this book.

I gave it 4 stars (5 stars are solely for rereads, which I am sure this one will be, just not yet) and I would put it at a 2 on the spice scale? Maybe a one? There’s not much spice, but a lot of good tension which I did really love.

Overall, I really really enjoyed this book. I didn’t find many things I didn’t like, if anything at all. It was really well done and I am glad I read it. The last thing I will say is don’t judge a book based on the opinions of others. You may find that you love the book very much despite your friends hating it. Or you might hate it along with them. You won’t know until you try.

Thank you so much for reading, and thank you to Jess for allowing me to be a guest on your blog. Love you!

Stay safe, stay cool, stay fabulous.

XOXO Gabbie

A huge thank you to Gabbie for being our very first guest post! If you would like to do your own guest post on my blog, drop me a line! I’d love to collaborate!

You can follow Gabbie on Instagram! She’s also part of the smutty and Nutty podcast with me, which has new episodes every Saturday on Spotify!

#crescentcity #review