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Literary Glance: House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City: Book 1) by Sarah Maas

March 19, 2020

“Oh no, this is one of those books,” I thought when I saw the cover of House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas.

Maybe a guy my age shouldn’t review books like this.  I know this book wasn’t meant for me.  I know House of Earth and Blood is meant for somebody, though, because it’s #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List in Hardcover Fiction.  It might not stay #1 for long, but the author Sarah Maas has a lot of fans buying her book, enough to make her book #1 for a week.

Then I read what House of Earth and Blood is about (which I’m not going to explain because you can get that anywhere), and I again thought “oh no, it’s one of those books,” a hodgepodge of mixed up magical creatures like shifters, witches, sprites, water beasts, nymphs, wraiths, vampyrs, dragons, and a bunch of stuff that a guy my age has difficulty keeping up with.

Yes, I was already biased against this book before I started reading it.   I admit it.  But maybe, just maybe, House of Earth and Blood isn’t really an “oh no, it’s one of those books” books after all.

Maybe House of Earth and Blood is really well-written and deserves to be #1.  Yeah, no book “deserves” to be #1, but you know what I mean; maybe it actually is a good book.  A genre can be meant for somebody who is not me (Or not I) and still be a solid, well-written book.  But is House of Earth and Blood well-written?

Let’s take a look at the first page:

There was a wolf at the gallery door.

That’s not a bad first sentence.

Which meant it must be Thursday, which meant Bryce had to be really gods-damned tired if she relied on Danika’s comings and goings to figure out what day it was.

“Gods-damned tired”?  Okay, the author establishes more than one god in this fictional realm but does it with profanity in the second sentence.  And the sentence isn’t really a sentence; it’s a string of dependent clauses without an independent clause.  Profanity in the second sentence I can deal with, but a run-on sentence fragment is a bit much.

The heavy metal door to Griffin Antiquities thudded with the impact of the wolf’s fist- a fist that Bryce knew ended in metallic-purple painted nails in dire need of a manicure.  A heartbeat later, a female voice barked, half-muffled through the steel, “Open the Hel up, B.  It’s hot as shit out here!”

Ugh.  So “Hel” is spelled with one “l,” and fecal matter is very hot in this realm.

Yeah, this is an “oh no, it’s one of those books” again.  The dialogue sounds like elementary school kids learning to cuss for the first time.  Maybe I’m old, but I prefer fantasy (and this applies to any genre) that doesn’t rely on profanity.

I’ve read a little further in this book, and the language doesn’t get any better.  I’m not a prude; I wrote Best Porn Jokes Ever!  And none of my porn jokes required profanity.

In case you haven’t figured it out, House of Earth and Blood isn’t for me.  The good news is that the author made it obvious after one page.  I didn’t get suckered into reading a book that I thought I’d like only to get sucker punched later.  House of Earth and Blood isn’t for me, but it’s obviously meant for somebody.

I used to like this genre, so I was going to compare House of Earth and Fire to the fantasy and sword&sorcery novels that I read decades ago, but I can guess how House of Earth and Blood fans would react when they saw the title of my favorite fantasy novel from decades ago:

“Oh no, it’s one of those books.”

  1. Bestsellers are rarely paragons of quality. That said, the big question is just what makes Maas break out from a glutted field of competition here.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    I am very sorry you cannot just have fun. I have read all the classics. Hell, Paradise Lost is one of my favorites and yet, I adore crescent city.

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