First Lines: There was a wolf at the gallery door. Which meant it must be Thursday, which meant Bryce had to be really gods-damned tired if she relied on Danika’s comings and goings to figure out what day it was.
It was unintentional, but I kept putting off reading this Sarah J. Maas read because…well, copies at the library were always taken. And I wasn’t super excited about it. It wasn’t ACOTAR. So when I finally saw it on the shelves at the library, I decided it was time.
Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life–work during the day, party all night–until a demon murdered her best friend. Lost, wounded, and guilt-ridden, Bryce now has to pick up the pieces of what’s left of her life. When the accused murderer is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself as part of the investigation into what’s actually happening. And she’s determined to get justice. Hunt Athalar is a Fallen angel, now enslaved to the archangels he tried to overthrow in favor of a more democratic world. His skills and strength have now been given one purpose: assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with murders now happening throughout the city, Hunt has been given a deal he can’t turn down: help Bryce solve the murders and earn his freedom. As Bryce and Hunt go into the city’s underbelly and discover power and secrets that could ruin everything they hold dear, they also find a blazing passion between them. It could set them both free if only they let it…
OK, HEAR ME OUT. I have gone back and forth with my rating (between 4 and 5 stars) so many times now. So let me just call it 4.5 and be done.
Maas is Queen, fair and square. I am not denying that. This book was stunning at times in the best way. I think I spent 4 hours just trying to finish it because it was all so intense for so long and I had to know what happened.
Bryce is a wonderful lead female. As half-human, half-fae, Bryce is considered “weak” at best and “worthless” at worst by the other supernatural beings that live in Crescent City and belongs to a very rigid caste system. But Bryce doesn’t let that stop her from being the sassiest thing on two legs. When you’re at the bottom, what do you have to lose if you run your mouth to the most powerful people in the city? It’s brash, it’s stupid at times, but it is so entertaining. I love her.
And Hunt. I truly thought at first he was going to be a more “adult” version of Rhys from ACOTAR, but I was pleasantly surprised that, while there are certainly similarities, they are also two very different characters. Hunt is technically a slave, owned by the Governor of Valbara to do his dirty work. He’s been beaten and tortured for a couple centuries now, but he’s never truly been broken. Still, these things make him a bit more reserved a lot of the time, especially compared to Bryce’s impulsiveness and quick mouth. It was interesting to see how they balanced each other out.
I already alluded to it already, but the last…400? 500? pages of the book was really interesting. The story gripped me pretty well at that point and over a couple of days, I was grabbing for it whenever I had time to see what happened next.
I know this is the first book in a series, but man, the first 100 pages or so were really slow. I legitimately didn’t know where the story was heading because nothing happened. Like, even the book jacket wasn’t helping me out at that point. And I kept getting lost in the terms. The multiple districts of Crescent City that are often referred to by nicknames (FiRo instead of Five Roses, if I remember right), the various creatures and demons, the hierarchy, etc. It was a lot to take in and there was just nothing driving the plot yet to really motivate me to figure it out. Honestly, I needed a glossary.
And I know I already made a fleeting comparison to ACOTAR, but I realized as I was reading this that it has a LOT in common with Throne of Glass. Like, they’re not the same story by any means, but there are multiple elements in common. I know Maas’s writing style at this point. I knew Bryce was going to be mouthy before I even picked up the book. I have a feeling there’s going to be a relationship curveball coming in the following books with someone. We’re building a Team of multiple friends and relatives to eventually (I’m assuming) overthrow the caste system. Like, this is all Maas’s writing to a T. I see the patterns now in what she does. So, for as much as I do absolutely love her writing, it’s not surprising anymore.
Still, I think this is absolutely a fabulous read and should at least get looked at by anyone with an interest in fantasy.