Title: House of Sky and Breath
Series: Crescent City #2
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published: February 15th, 2022 (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Synopsis: Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal – they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.
The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.
In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode – and the people who will do anything to save it.
A few months after the events of the first book, Bryce is trying to adjust between her Starborn abilities and figuring out a new normal with Hunt. Both of them are eager to sit back and relax after everything that has happened, and are more than willing to heed the Asteri’s not so subtle warning. The Asteri too, seem to be keeping to their word so far, but unrest is stirring outside Lunathion. The rebellion is gaining momentum and as what could be a crucial piece comes into play, Bryce and the entire group get drawn into the whole affair, placing them on a collision course with both the rebels and the agents of the Asteri.
“Hel’s armies shall strike at your command, Bryce Quinlan.”
My first 5 star rating of the year! And the surprising thing is that, unlike book one, I considered and reconsidered the rating for this sequel before arriving at this. HOSAB was in equal parts so much better, so much more shocking, and so much more bizarre in some aspects than I expected. It was such a relief to pick up this book because I’ve had to be so careful to avoid spoilers all this time. With HOSAB, the story leaves Crescent City for the first time, something I’d really been hoping to see in this book, and though those sequences were brief, it was great to get an idea of the larger world and what exactly has been going on out there. The one thing that would have been a nice addition here was a map that could have filled in some of the geographical locations of these new places. I’m also no clearer on the magic system which is a bit disappointing. The pacing of this book was very similar to the first, though knowing the background and understanding what was going on made it much less confusing this time around. It’s a book that is best read slowly as there is so much going on, and even though it might not be directly related to the imminent plot, it’s definitely going to come back at some point.
As amazing as the plot was, the characters are really what I’m here for in this series. The biggest surprise for me with regards to the characters was the new POVs that were introduced – Ruhn, Ithan and Tharion. Ruhn was my favorite side character in the first book, so it was wonderful to get inside his head for a different viewpoint on things. Ithan was not a POV I expected to see, but I’m certainly not complaining as it was a great addition. Tharion was the most unexpected one though, I didn’t expect him to play as central a role in this book as he did, but as it turned out, what was going on in his arc was more or less the driving force behind the main plot. Along with Bryce and Hunt, that was five POVs, and as the story is more or less evenly spread out among them, it made for a much more balanced and intriguing narrative.
Bryce was…well, Bryce. She was still the exact same character from book one, only now that I understand her a bit better, and especially given her growth in HOEAB, her POV was an absolute delight to read. Bryce and Hunt – they were perfect. I absolutely love their dynamic and their banter and their arc has been so beautiful.
Let’s take a minute to talk about Danika – on page for about five minutes in the first book, dead for two years, and her part in this story is still not over. Most of the twists that come out of the blue for our characters in this book were due to yet more secrets that she never saw fit to share. It was hard not to feel a little bad for Bryce as they came out one after the other, making her wonder if she knew Danika at all, when she apparently had what amounted to a whole other secret life. While it certainly made for interesting reading, I started to feel like Danika was just a convenient mechanism to get this book started, because Bryce would never have gotten involved in anything that happened if Danika’s name hadn’t come up in relation to it.
If you’re not ready for spoilers, even mild ones, skip the rest of this paragraph. I try really hard to keep my reviews spoiler free, especially with highly anticipated books like this, but I just have to talk about this or I might scream. We have a crossover! I don’t know why I found it so shocking, because SJM has dropped hints about this before, and given the level of similarities between the worlds in her books, it was always within the realm of both possibility and credibility that this might pop up eventually. The irony is that I was complaining about this exact same thing happening in my review of another book just earlier this month, but unlike that case, it actually does make sense here. I’ve decided I’m going to be cautiously optimistic about this, because the realm of possibilities this now opens up is amazing. I’m now wondering if one more book, even if it is 800 pages long, is going to be enough to satisfactorily resolve everything that has been unleashed in this book – I mean, with these reveals there’s probably content for two or three more books depending on what direction the story takes.
Back to non-spoiler territory, I literally read the last 10% of this book through my fingers because there was no way this was going anywhere good. HOEAB ended on a sort-of mostly happy ending with some loose ends, but from the mood of this book, it was evident right from the beginning that it was building up to something major, and knowing SJM, something absolutely devastating. Cliffhanger ending aside, the series of shocking reveals that just kept coming one after another in those final 100 pages had me completely speechless, but when you take a step back and think about it, the hints were there. I had my suspicions early on in the book at the direction the plot was taking, but completely forgot about it and got caught up in the story. It wasn’t like book one where there was pretty much zero foreshadowing and the climactic chapters were insanely intense. Not to say that HOSAB wasn’t intense, because it totally was, but I felt that it didn’t have that same awe and shock factor because I had a gut feeling going into the last quarter of the book that it was not going to end well and I was so stressed about it.
As for said cliffhanger final chapters, and yes, that includes the events of the epilogue, the ending was so evil and it was so good, and I am in despair that book 3 is atleast a year, but probably more, away from publishing. I haven’t been in such a state after the ending of a book since I read Empire of Storms and Cassandra Clare’s Lord of Shadows which should give you some idea as to the scale of the cliffhanger. All in all, I could go on about this book another ten pages, but I’ll leave it at this – I did not think it was possible to surpass HOEAB, but HOSAB has managed to do just that.
I’m off to dive into a pile of comfort reads to distract myself from the evil, evil ending of this book and desperately try to stave off the approaching book hangover, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this book if you’ve already read it! And yes, I most definitely recommend this book!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: