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House of Sky & Breath by Sarah J. Maas

House of Sky & Breath by Sarah J. Maas

Otherwise known as Crescent City 2, we are currently blessed with the sequel of House of Earth & Blood! We are all screaming.

One of the reasons I am screaming is because I am going to try and get through this whole book review without one spoiler, because I know how infuriating it is, and how it changes the way you read if you already know what’s going to happen. …This is going to be hard, so bear with me.

If you are unfamiliar with the Crescent City series, it follows a half-human/half-fae woman named Bryce in, you guessed it, Crescent City. In the first book, a demon murders her friends, and together with dark and dreamy warrior Hunt Athalar, they track down the demon and discover an underlying motive that throws their society and political agenda into disarray, opening up the doors to Hel which results in mass genocide, and a fulfilling of destiny for Bryce.

Now in the sequel, ‘House of Sky and Breath,’ Bryce and Hunt want to lay low after the explosive finale of CC1, but life has other plans for them. The rebellion is growing, and Bryce and her friends get pulled into it, wondering which side is justified. What develops is an incredible story about questioning your rulers and the society they govern, and standing up for what is right. Bryce and Hunt’s world is a world on the brink, and they will do anything to save it.

We come in with a completely new character in an unfamiliar environment, away from Crescent City. Who is this woman? Why is she important to the plot? Who are these mysterious characters around her? Is she part of the rebellion? I thought the rebellion was supposed to be bad? We forget about her after the first chapter, but keep her in the back of your mind…

Now, I know I’m probably going to be hated on for this, but the Crescent City novels are my least favourite Sarah J. Maas series, and perhaps that’s because… Hunt just doesn’t do it for me. Perhaps because he absolutely betrayed Bryce in the first book, but also because I’m more into a little bit of a slow burn. I feel like it started out hot and heavy from the beginning. I like my delayed gratification.

Now a big question going around was: Is Hunt endgame? We know SJM likes to play a little switcheroo with the love interests, and I have to say that by the end of CC1, I was Team Aidas all the way. You know we love a bad boy (Rhysand, I’m looking at you). Well, I’m not going to spoil it for you, because that would just be super mean, but… there’s a lot in CC2.

I was convinced Prince of Hel Aidas was going to be a love interest, sort of like Rowan coming in at book 4 of the Throne of Glass series, but… he’s not, so don’t get your hopes up. In fact, we hardly see him at all in the second book – although it’s set up to see more of him in the third book. With multiple different characters emerging at what could be a love interest, we don’t find out who Bryce’s endgame romantic partner is until about ¾ of the way into the novel – and as a sceptic, and perhaps due to the way it was written (very vague but bear with me on my no-spoiler’s journey) after finishing the novel I’m still not sure if he’s endgame or not…

What we do have is a more in-depth look at the characters who were perhaps more surface level than before. Although Crescent City was mostly explored in the first book, now SJM decided to do more world-building outside of Crescent City, as well as exploring more facets of the life and people in Crescent City that remained a mystery in ‘House of Earth & Blood’. Ladies will be pleased to know that Tharion features extensively in the novel, and we get to know him a bit more – he is not just the flirtatious and impossibly good-looking merman we have come to know. We also get a good look at the Blue Court, and meet the River Queen in her secretive kingdom.

One of the biggest gripes about this long-awaited sequel was the fact there was almost too much going on; there were too many plot-twists, there was too much action. I have to admit, I found myself struggling to keep up at some points, and had to flick back to remind myself who’s who. Sandriel’s triarii feature heavily in the book, and make sure to know the difference between the Hammer, the Hind, the Harpy, the Helhound, and the Hunter (that one’s pretty easy – it’s Hunt), as well as who’s related to who, who’s romantically involved with who, and where their loyalties lie.

Because there were so many plot twists, I could genuinely say that I had absolutely no idea what was coming. We all know that SJM loves to plant little easter eggs throughout the book, hinting at the plot, the finale, and even the sequel, but due to the extensive amount of plot twists and also the amount of new characters we meet in this Crescent City universe, I can confidently assure you that you have no idea what’s in store – and as an English Lit graduate, I am extremely experienced in analysing text for clues/themes/motifs, and can usually pick them up as I read on first go.

I strongly, strongly encourage you, that whatever you do, do not skip ahead, flick to see how many pages left in a chapter, or god forbid, flick to see how many pages are in the book total. If you even glimpse one of the final pages, you will know immediately what’s happened and it will spoil the whole book for you. If you want to know how many pages are in ‘House of Sky & Breath,’ it’s 801, so now you know. DO NOT SKIP AHEAD. DO NOT EVEN PEEK.

The reason I don’t want you to spoil the ending so badly is because the plot twist is so huge, so gobsmacking, so out-of-this-world, so ultimately spectacular that it’s just too incredible to spoil. Honestly, all jokes aside, when I got to the final plot twist, I literally sat straight up in my bed with my mouth wide open, and proceeded to devour the chapter with a smile and with tears streaming down my face. I am not kidding – it’s that good.

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I have to say, by the end I did fall in love with Hunt a little more than the first book, although he doesn’t hold a candle to Rowan or Rhysand (my favourite bat-boy, although Cassius is a close second). Definitely he has flaws, and is a little more macho/protective than I would like – but as Bryce is certainly confident enough and independent enough, she can handle him and bring him down a peg or too if need be (although calming tactics do send the pulses racing…)

If I haven’t mentioned before, the Crescent City series does fall under the New Adult category, which is a step up for SJM who normally writes under the Young Adult umbrella. Be warned, there are explicit sex scenes, so beware when reading on the tube!

If anything, it’s shaping up to be a little more ‘Throne of Glass’ than ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses,’ and I’m wondering if SJM is regretting making this series a trilogy – as I feel we have so much left to explore – and especially after the penultimate chapter, so much ground to cover. It feels like more of a 5-book series to me, so fingers crossed we get more content from our lorde and saviour, Sarah J. Maas.

Rather than answering the numerous questions we had after CC1, at the end of CC2 we were left with even more questions than before. Who is Hunt’s dad? Who is Jesiba and what role does she play in politics? What house is Fury from, and what secrets does she know? Did Bryce even know Danika at all? What is Bryce capable of with her powers? We can’t wait to find out.

In the meantime, I’ll be rereading this book for the second time to pick up all the Easter eggs I missed in the first go around, and desperately hoping for a new book release in 2023, however unlikely. SJM abides by the rules of quality over quantity (I’m looking at you Jennifer L. Armentrout, however much of a guilty pleasure), and certainly it takes time to weave this intricate layering of stories and plots she does so well. Oh well, ever hoping…