Sarah J Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Series or Standalone: Crescent City #2
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
MY REVIEW *NO SPOILERS*
This review will be a little different as I had zero intentions of reviewing this book as I wanted to read it for fun.
First off, I want to say I am a Sarah J. Maas fan. I have been since I got to read an ARC of Throne of Glass way back in 2012. I’m not a die-hard stan, but I overall really enjoy her stories. Second, I adored the first book in the Crescent City series. I have not reviewed House of Earth and Blood, but it’s one of my favorite Sarah J. Maas books. Yes, it does take a second for the world-building to click, but I love its exploration of friendship, love and grief. That book really shines in those areas, and it packs a heavy emotional punch. I cry every time I read the last 20% of the book, given the sacrifices people make for those they love.
If you’re a hard-core Sarah J. Maas fan, I think you’re going to love House of Sky and Breath book. However, if Crescent City is the only series you’ve read of hers or you’ve been on the fence about this series, I’m not sure this book will be for you.
I desperately wanted to like House of Sky and Breath, but ultimately, I found myself bored while reading it. I cringe saying that as it’s one of the biggest cardinal sins a book could suffer from. I definitely think the book suffered due to its length. There were a lot of unnecessary subplots that didn’t add much to the story. I felt like some subplots were introduced just to provide shock value or for fan service. The twists didn’t really end up playing out in a meaningful way in the end.
Maas beefed up the role of some characters, namely Tharion and Ithan, and added some new ones, which I didn’t mind as I liked the new characters. However, their storylines didn’t add as much to the book’s main plot as I would have liked. Unless it’s going to be important in future books, Tharion’s storyline could have drastically been reduced as many of his scenes felt unnecessary. I liked the further exploration and development of Ruhn’s character and his storyline I thought was very interesting.
Ultimately, however, this is Bryce and Hunt’s story. And their story got a bit lost in the shuffle of all the subplots and other threads going on. I felt like Maas knew where she wanted these characters to end up but didn’t know how to get them there. There were certain aspects of the story, particularly related to Bryce’s new powers and the role, that I would have liked to have teased out and set up more. But there just wasn’t enough room for it in a book packed with about 10 other storylines.
For me, the biggest disappointment is the lack of emotional connection I felt to this story. As I said, House of Earth and Blood shined for me because of how much it made me feel. I cared so much about the characters and their grief. The feelings and emotions that the book explored tugged at something in my soul. In House of Sky and Breath, that emotional connection was gone. I’m not sure what happened, but I just found myself not caring for these characters as much. In the first book, Through Love, All is Possible is a defining theme that carries over into all aspects of the story. House of Sky and Breath didn’t have that.
This lack of emotional connection really played out in Hunt and Bryce’s relationship for me. I loved exploring their romantic feelings in the first book, and I am someone who wants them as endgame. Yet, something was missing from their relationship, which made me not care as much about what happened to them. My perception was that the spark and chemistry between them seemed forced, even though their actions in the book shouldn’t make it seem that way.
All this and I haven’t addressed the ending. The ending is going to be divisive. For me, I’m not the biggest fan of it. I was a little annoyed because it felt a bit predictable, unnecessary and lazy. I think some people will rate this book a 5 star read because of the ending, but I don’t think an ending, even if you think it’s amazing, should define an 800-page book.
I stayed up very late for four nights in a row to finish this as I really wanted to see how it would play out. I had high hopes and was so excited about it. But ultimately, I ended up being disappointed. And that makes me so sad as I truly wanted to love it.
Now, will I read future books in the Crescent City series? Yes. But I’ll be tempering my expectations dramatically given how I felt about this one and the implication of the ending for future stories.