House of Earth and Blood - Sarah J Maas

Bryce Quinlan has it all, she can enjoy all the pleasures Crescent City has to offer and no one can say anything about it. But Bryce's world turns upside down as a result of a brutal murder and it is only when she's asked to help investigate a similar murder years later does she realise that only she can put the world right again.

Huge thank you to Tandem Collective, Sarah J Maas and Bloomsbury Publishing for letting me be a part of this international read along. I was over the moon to be chosen to be a part of this as not only has the book been raved about all over the world, but this was my first SJM book and I'd been dying to get into her work. If you want to give it a read and support local booksellers at the same time order through Bookshop:

I knew, from the synopsis, that there was going to be emotional scenes from the off but nothing prepared me for the way Maas tore out my heart within the first six chapters. Danika was Bryce's best friend and the writing perfectly captured their dependent relationship, building strong connections and encapsulating the reader in their happy world. Maas built it up, just to watch it fall. Danika's murder is the catalyst for the rest of the novel so it isn't a spoiler as such, but nothing could prepare me for how the writing emitted such an emotional response from me. The relationships in this book were something to behold, Maas can write extremely well but she excels at convincing the reader of realistic relationships. Throughout the novel her approach to those connections is what made this such an incredible read, so much so, that I read the last 300 pages in one day just to experience it all (sorry Tandem, sticking to the guidelines was tough on this one).

*slight spoilers ahead*

It has been said that Maas uses the same basic premise for all her fantasy novels; a 'different to the others' female protagonist is somehow the saviour of the new fantasy world she finds herself in. However, after now reading 'A Court of Thorns and Roses', also by Maas, I have to say that whilst there is truth in that, I couldn't compare similarities between Bryce and Feyre (ACOTAR) further than "they are now saving the world they find themselves in" which isn't all that new in fantasy novels, you could apply that to nearly every one of them. Bryce was an incredible character, she was stand-offish and difficult to love but that made her all the more enjoyable, and once Hunt was introduced, I was sold. Putting the reader in Bryce's shoes and perceiving Hunt in a certain way was key to the plot and Maas did an incredible job of convincing us he was working to the same outcome as Bryce. At no point could I have guessed the ending and this was a perfect example of how 'House of Earth and Blood' is incredible in its own right, it steps into the world of suspense and thriller whilst still holding the fantasy crown.

'House of Earth and Blood' captivated me in a way I didn't think possible for fantasy anymore, I find world-building is often a struggle for me to get past, I don't want to spend 100 pages reading about this new fantasy world before getting into the story. Maas intertwined the world-building in a way that made it easy to manage and got right to the action without sacrificing the setting and atmosphere. Such powerful writing is the only way you can convince me to read a 700+ book without debate, which is why I had no problems picking up the rest of the ACOTAR series, with book two and three being chunky as well.

Maas is an incredible writer, she builds worlds around the reader instead of expecting the reader to dive into it from the outside. I'm eagerly anticipating book two in the series and cannot wait to read more of Bryce and Hunt!

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