Recommended Age: 18+
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Tags: Magic, Royalty, Angels and demons, Crime, Diversity, Murder mystery, Mythology, Romance, Sirens, Vampires, War
- Graphic violence: Detailed descriptions of murder and mutilation, physical fights resulting in injury and death, allusions to suicide.
- Mature sexuality: Explanations of sexual manipulation, descriptions of sexuality and physicality, kissing, multiple sex scenes.
- Mature language: Swearing, including many F bombs, crude language, threats, verbal abuse.
Bryce is half human and half fae, and living in a melting pot city where different creatures of all kinds can (mostly) live in peace despite their differences. Her best friend is a werewolf, her boss is a witch, and her coworker is a fire sprite. But even in this melting pot of a city, discrimination still thrives, and not even Bryce and her powerful party girl friends are immune to the dangers of living among legends.
When Bryce’s friends are murdered by an unknown demon, Bryce works with angels, the elite security force, to identify the murderer. But each answer brings up more questions, until Bryce isn’t sure how much she knew about her closest friend, and how much was a lie.
Sarah J. Maas is known for her Young Adult Fantasy, but in her Adult Urban Fantasy debut, she explores a futuristic world of countless species and dangers, rich in history and culture.
Bryce starts out as a party girl without a plan, just enjoying each day as it comes. She has her best friend Danika, the powerful leader of the top wolf pack, as well as a few other friends that include werewolves, fauns, and assassins. Crescent City harbors creatures of all sorts and is a melting pot of cultures, and while there are still prejudices between species, it’s less extreme. Bryce may be half human, and consistently insulted and threatened because of it, but she’s also half fae.
Being half and half helps Bryce see the world from different perspectives, and though she hasn’t yet figured out what to do with her life, she will always fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Bryce is a fantastic protagonist, especially for a book that’s clearly building up into an epic series. She’s broken but tough, and has a hilarious sense of humor. Her sass and attitude help her breeze her way through any situation, and the fact that she can read people so well helps the reader understand the world building better. She uses glam as armor, but she also knows her way around a gun range. Humans are seen as inferior, but she never lets the discrimination for her human genetics change her. She knows exactly what she has to offer, and though she’s weighed by guilt and grief, she never buys into all the power and politics between species.
She and Hunt have a fun friendship that slowly develops into something more serious. Their relationship isn’t perfect, but their genuine desire to help the other through grief is very heartfelt. Bryce and Danika have the strongest connection out of all the characters. They are best friends for life, and will never stop loving each other, even after death. Everything they do, they do for each other, and Bryce’s refusal to accept anything less than the truth about Danika’s past lands her in both dangerous and enlightening situations. There are many great relationships in this book, with vibrant characters that help make this magical world relatable.
This author has always done fantasy really well, and this is her first urban fantasy. It’s always interesting to read about fairies and mermaids in modern settings, using technology and mixing their traditional heritage with newer ideals. The world building is so extensive, and definitely lays a lot of ground work for a big series. There’s already a sequel in the works, so maybe we’ll get to see different locations in this world in order to create a bigger picture. There’s so much history and culture and background, and it can be difficult to keep up with all the terminology.
This book often falls in the origin story trap of overloading the reader with too much information instead of letting it fall into place gradually. But it’s great for fantasy lovers, especially ones who have read Throne of Glass and Court of Thorns and Roses. There’s a good amount of potential for a sequel, especially for more insights into Bryce’s relationship with her parents, fae prince brother, witchy boss, and most of all, the demon who likes to parade around as a cat.
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