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  • Writer's pictureKori

House of Flame and Shadow Book Review

Two years ago, Sarah J Maas left fans on a criminal-level cliffhanger, sparking a period of unhinged rereading, drawing potential connections, theorizing, discussion, and trying to work out the answers to what the hell is going to happen next and how is it all connected?


I could barely contain my excitement as I waited for the clock to strike twelve and the e-book gods to bless my nook account with the epic conclusion to Bryce's story in the Crescent City trilogy. In the end, I was left with a mixed bag of emotions. Let's dig into why.



House of Flame and Shadow book review Coffee, Book, and Candle


Genre: Urban Fantasy / Sci-Fi


Category: Epic Read

Want to know more about how we categorize books? See our Lexicon for details.


Rating: 4/5 Stars

Plot: 4/5 stars

Characters: 4/5 stars

World: 4/5 stars


Pairing:


 

If you need to catch up, or are interested in what I thought of HOFAS's predecessors, you can check out my reviews of House of Earth and Blood and House of Sky and Breath.



PLOT


As my most-anticipated release of the year, believe me when I say I devoured this book. I stayed up for nearly 24 hours, only putting it down to see to pesky basic necessities like food. The plot was highly entertaining with near-constant action and the way the narrative rapidly switched POVs in the midst of conflict and battle. Perhaps as satisfying as the battles and escapes were the mystery reveals and uncovered connections between the universeand, of course, coming up with new theories for how the events of this book will ripple out to other worlds.


That said, this wasn't exactly what many of us were expecting. Many were disappointed when the crossover wasn't as prominent as hoped, maybe because SJM scrapped the entire first draft and went a different route after dropping a few hints in interviews? Who knows? I was okay with it, especially since she'd said before that she wanted readers to be able to read each series independently, without relying on content from the others...even if that seems impossible now.


After giving myself time to process, I found a few other things that bugged me.


As far as the plot goes, there was one major plot point that felt, for lack of a better word, dumb. We've seen SJM place a similar hurdle in front of characters in another series, and I get that she wanted to do things differently this time around, providing modern solutions for Crescent City's high-tech setting.



CHARACTERS


As for the characters…


I’ve always been apathetic toward the Bryce and Hunt ship. I’ve never hated them, I just haven’t loved them like I have other SJM couples. But this book really cemented them being at the bottom of the list for me. While I appreciate their loyalty to each other and how fiercely they fight for one another, I wasn’t a big fan of their communication or treatment of one another in this installment.


Other characters had reason to be upset and untrusting, but they worked through it nicely. One particular couple—and one half of this ship in general—did the hard work of carrying this book. If you know, you know.


While desperate situations and high emotions can cause questionable decision-making, there was one character that made many of us want to scream, “Dude, what are you doing?!” as they got themselves into deeper and deeper shit.


Another character's story went in a completely unexpected direction, and I still don't know how I feel about it. I was emotional and a bit disappointed, but I still have hope that some of my theories could turn out to be correct.



WORLD


Crescent City’s urban environment and blend of magic with technology has set it apart from SJM’s other series. Now that the story spans across space to other planets, there is a distinctly sci-fi feel to House of Flame and Shadow that makes it unique to the first two books.


Seeing Bryce's world collide with another beloved land was EXCITING. The way SJM has woven these series together while keeping each so distinct is nothing short of incredible and inspiring. I only wish we could have seen more interaction between the characters who met. But I am confident SJM has more cards up her sleeve, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.




IN A NUTSHELL


House of Flame and Shadow had some loftymaybe even unfairexpectations placed upon it by the fandom. In many ways, it met and exceeded them. With loads of action, massive reveals, literal (and figurative) underground journeys, character drama, and a final showdown with the Asteri, it was a blast to read from start to finish. Not to mention an emotional rollercoaster.


Yet I can't deny that once I took a step back to analyze the story, there were things I didn't love, no matter how much it feels like a betrayal to my favorite author to admit that. All in all, creating a crossover in a 16-book universe is a serious undertaking, and though there was no way she could please everyone, I think SJM did a stellar job.

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