Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Book Review: "House of Flame and Shadow" by Sarah J. Maas

Title: House of Flame and Shadow
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: "Crescent City" #3
Page Length: 838 pages
Publication Date: January 30, 2024
Rating: 4 // 5 stars

*Non-spoiler for House of Flame and Shadow but it will contain major spoilers for previous books in the Crescent City series*

Okay y'all, we're about a month away from me having finished this book and I think I've settled my thoughts enough for a coherent review. I have a lot of complicated feelings about this book and how the series has progressed from the first book. I'll start by saying that objectively this is a 3-star book. But I do have a lot of love for the characters and world so I rated it 4-stars. 

I'll start with my issues, of which there are plenty. First, Ithan and Tharion shared one single brain cell this entire book and it annoyed me to the point where I actively rolled my eyes seeing them on page. Ithan mostly got better but Tharion so far still annoys me. Bryce's characterization in this book also felt completely foreign to me. She didn't feel like the Bryce I'd known in the past two books. And, to be honest, there were times she annoyed me as well. 

The plot was confusing and convoluted at times. The big climax of the series fell flat, the ending was rushed and anti-climactic, the stakes never felt high, and overall I was just confused. I think it read like poorly planned fanfiction.

Honestly, my favorite scenes were the ACOTAR crossover scenes, which shouldn't be the case. I should enjoy those scenes, but Crescent City should be able to stand on its own without needing the support of her most famous series. I think it would have been far more intriguing to see a world that stood on its own where the conflicts didn't tie into ACOTAR. 

And, in probably one of my single biggest issues, the POV switches were absolutely insane. I don't mind multiple-POV books or switching POV's every chapter. But multiple POV switches in a single chapter felt like too much. We were getting POV switches after a single page sometimes. I can only imagine it was to build little cliffhangers or emulate the quick flashing between different scenes in movies or shows that builds tension. It did not work here. Instead, it just annoyed me. I don't mind every chapter or even two POVs in a chapter but there was absolutely no need to switch POVs so many times per chapter as often as they did. 

To me, this book (as well as House of Sky and Breath) didn't feel like Sarah J. Maas books. I think I read somewhere that she switched editors and that might be part of it but, for me, the things that make Maas books addicting weren't present here. The romance wasn't romancing, the plot was convoluted not layered in a fascinating way, the pacing was weird, shock twist moments didn't feel that just wasn't executed well. 

Now, I didn't hate the book, even if I was left feeling disappointed. I enjoyed seeing the characters again and there were some that truly carried the book despite the flaws elsewhere. When I was actively reading it, I didn't want to stop, especially in the beginning. But overall I was left feeling disappointed, even though I was already apprehensive going into this book after House of Sky and Breath. That being said, the first book remains a top-tier book and I do love the characters a lot. Sadly, this book didn't do them or their stories justice. 

I'm sure this review is convoluted in its own way at this point. Overall, disappointed but didn't hate it. Four stars for nostalgia and the ACOTAR gang but three stars for literally everything else. 

Thanks for reading!

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