Book Review: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Mass

*Spoiler Free Review*

So I finished reading a 800 page novel in just over two days and my emotions are all over the place. I have so many feelings about this book. Honestly I didn’t think that fantasy books can give these many feels, but this was packed with it.

Let me start by saying that I had started reading this book when it was released about an year ago but due to excessive name dropping and lingo, I couldn’t keep up with the book and had to postpone reading it. This was my second attempt and I am so glad that I put the effort to read past the first couple of chapters because the Vanir world does take some time getting used to but it is worth it in the end.

The book follows the story of Bryce Quinlan, a half fae, half human Vanir (Supernatural) having little to no power at all, Hunt Athalar, a fallen angel who once commandeered a rebellion, now enslaved and abused by the powers that be and some other interesting characters. The story begins with a gruesome and mysterious murder of a pack of wolves all of whom are Bryce’s close friends. This leaves her bereft, wounded and all alone. When the accused is behind the bars but the crimes start up once again, Bryce teams up with Hunt to find the person responsible for killing her best friend. While they start with the purpose of discovering the person responsible behind the murders, they realize that something much nastier is at play.

While the plot of the book was not original, the characters were interesting enough to keep me hooked till the plot itself became interesting.

Bryce is one of the most loyal characters that I have come across in my years of reading. She is sassy, snarky, determined, strong willed, kind, forgiving and at times reckless, yeah, but always willing to go to the ends for her loved ones. I loved the bond that she shared with Danika. There were times when I found Danika to be unworthy of her unwavering loyalty and trust, but by the time the story is put together, Danika redeems herself. I enjoyed her interactions a lot and in my opinion she was a kickass heroine.

Hunt is a soldier, the shadow of death, the Umbra Mortis. He is in a precarious position after having commandeered a rebellion of angels and other super-naturals to overthrow the powers that be and failing miserably. Now enslaved and working for an archangel as his personal assassin, Hunt is living his life, counting the remaining number of lives he has to take in order to be free when he is given an opportunity to earn his freedom much faster by helping Bryce find the murderer.

Although he comes across as broody, arrogant and short tempered (ikr, all the makings of a good book boyfriend 😉 ) at the beginning of the book, there is a stark difference in the Hunt that we see at the start compared to the Hunt that befriends Bryce and opens up to her. He is such a big softie at heart. I loved their slow burn romance. I loved all of their sizzling altercations. Though I did hate him for a while for his betrayal, I think I understand where that might have come from.

"You look how I feel everyday. I never realized it, that you and I are mirrors"
"Is that a bad thing?"
"No. No it isn't"
"No issue with Umbra Mortis being your emotional twin?"
"That is what they call you, but that is not who you are"

The two of them, Bryce and Hunt, gave me so many feels. I felt so deeply for them, for Hunt specifically, who was doing things that chipped at his soul just to see a glimpse of freedom. And how he realizes that all he wants is Bryce and a chance of a normal future with her. I was biting my nails (not literally ;)), shouting, laughing and crying by the end of this book. I just loved it.

There were so many support characters that I loved. Ruhn, Flynn, Declan, Lehabah, Fury and Isaiah. I cannot wait to read more about Ruhn and his destiny. And that tidbit about the prince of Hell? I am going to be the first one in the line just to read more about him.

But there were somethings that could have gone better. First is the length. I know it takes time to build up a fantasy world but 500 pages of story building? It does take a lot of patience and time to get to the point where the story starts becoming intriguing and according to me somethings could have been cut short. Also, SJM, give us some time to get used to the world you have portrayed before using acronyms. I felt as if there was a dump of a whole lot of information at the beginning which didn’t help me getting into the book right away. There were somethings in the story that I could see coming from a mile away, but the story was interesting enough for me to keep turning the pages just to see how things would unfold. All in all, I think it was a great book and I would definitely recommend it if you are not afraid of putting over 18-20 hours in reading just one book.

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