REVIEW BY MARIA GIL
Crescent City follows the story of half-fae Bryce Quinlan as she tries to solve the murder of her closest friends after similar murders have occurred even though the supposed killer is behind bars. Bryce is partnered up with fallen angel Hunt Athalar, who is enslaved to the city’s Archangels – who govern all the land – after his failed rebellion. Together, they discover the secrets of the people closest to them and uncover dark dealings hidden within the city.
Crescent City is Sarah J Mass’ best book yet because of her focus on friendship and its different dynamics. One of the main focuses of the story is the love between friends and how that love is just as powerful, if not more potent than romantic love. The dynamic between Bryce and Danika and the unconditional love they hold for each other is a rare sight in modern-day fantasy literature, often being overshadowed by romantic love or the sense of a bigger purpose. In this novel, the most powerful actions out of love were done between friends.
When Bryce’s best friend Danika is murdered, she does not want to continue living in a world without her, making Bryce’s biggest flaw is her unwavering loyalty. Yet, her loyalty is what makes her such a fantastic character; she would literally die for her friends and family without a second thought, as she does while standing up to one of the Archangel leaders (who is powerful enough to break her neck in a second) in order to protect Hunt. Later in the book, Bryce nearly dies protecting one of her friends, Juniper, a professional fawn ballet dancer, when the bar they are hanging out in is bombed because Bryce did not want her friend to risk hurting her legs and possibly never dancing again. Bryce’s friendship with Juniper , Lelabah (a small fire sprite), Furry (a professional assassin) and Danika (a leader of the strongest pack of wolves in the city) felt tangible, and the fact they all loved each other so much but had different ways of showing it only made them feel more like real people.
As always, Mass included a romantic storyline. I appreciated that the romance between Hunt and Bryce was a slow-budding romance, transitioning from not being able to stand each other to buddy-cops to friends to partners and eventually lovers. It didn’t feel rushed. Hunt was not suddenly over the loss of his previous lover the minute he met Bryce. Rather, it was gradual — the same way you open up to an acquaintance who in turn becomes a friend. While Bryce believed Hunt to bea merciless, murder-hungry assassin, as the rest of the world did, their friendship leads both of them to grow comfortable with one other and stop hiding behind labels other people have given them.
The mix of science, technology and magic blew my mind. Usually, fantasy books, including Mass’ previous series, keep magic and science separate. Mass departs from this norm in this novel by shunning this stereotype and combining the two, creating a world where magic and technology worked together to amplify their power. The world-building around the two elements was natural and convincing. People could ride broomsticks while calling their friends on their smartphones — which sounds ridiculous but it made sense in context, and is a testament to Maas’ writing.
I honestly have nothing negative to say about this novel. It has everything I love in a book: strong friendships, a fast-paced plot, twists and turns, dreamy guys, and emotionally powerful, multilayered, realistic portrayals of women who can be badass, love themselves, and cry all in one chapter.
My biggest concern is that Maas has a tendency of replacing the protagonist’s love interest in the first book with another love interest in subsequent books, as happened in Throne of Glass with Dorian and Chaol who were ultimately replaced by Rowan, and A Court of Thorns and Roses where Tamlin was replaced by (the far superior) Rhysand. The problem here is that I love Hunt so much, and he and Bryce are perfect for each other. Fingers crossed Maas will think about switching things up in her next book for the sake of unpredictability if not simply my love of Hunt.
Publication Date: 3 March 2020
RRP: $29.99 AUD
Personal Rating: 5/5