I shared in my A Court of Silver Flames or House of Sky & Breathreviews that it was soon time for me to do an updated Sarah J. Maas review. As you likely know, I have been an avid SJM reader since 2015 – yes, I was indeed reading A Court of Thorns & Roses in my high school library before school and during study hall. If reading fantasy romance in that setting is my claim to fame, I am so here for it. Fun fact that my Top 5 SJM Books post I wrote in 2020 is one of my most popular posts on the blog – I definitely owe some of the attention to the increased popularity of SJM thanks to ACOTAR love on BookTok.
While I am tempted to do an updated ranking since I do think that A Court of Silver Flames andHouse of Earth & Blood might just be among my top five favorites (I’m thinking of doing a top ten because let’s be honest, if though I have my FAVORITES, I LOVE all of SJM’s work), I thought I’d go in a different direction and rank the Throne of Glass, ACOTAR, and Crescent City series, based on the first 2 Crescent City books.
1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – Yes, let the controversy rain over me. Maybe blame it on the fact that it was my introduction to Sarah J. Maas, but Throne of Glass owns my heart. I think Throne of Glass is the most fantasy of SJM’s books, in the sense that we don’t get a ton of steam/romance, at least until the last three books. Yes, a large part of that is because Throne of Glass is considered YA, but my theory is that those last few get a little steamy because they were written along side A Court of Mist & Fury and A Court of War & Ruin, ie when ACOTAR really established the romance. Crescent City is of course SJM’s most high fantasy, but I think its setting that borrows a lot of elements from the modern world makes it less of an intimidating fantasy read than ToG (aside from the page numbers of course). While there is that connection to ACOTAR within House of Sky & Breath (trying to be save with spoilers/as non-spoilers as possible).If you’re a reader that has started with the Crescent City series and want to explore more of her backlist, while ACOTAR is the obvious choice, I would recommend reading Throne of Glass if you like the fantasy of SJM more than the romance. Throne of Glass as a series has a similar effect to the transition from ACOTAR to ACOMAF, in the sense that everything you know and expect based on the first two books, Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, gets blown up by the end of Heir of Fire and the series goes into a new direction with my personal favorite SJM book, Queen of Midnight. Throne of Glass begins as semi-Cinderella inspired retelling, as assassin Celaena Sardothien is selected to compete to be the king’s champion, earning the attention of the crown prince, Dorian, and captain of the guard, Chaol Westfall, along the way.
Summary (from the publisher): 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.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Yes dear reader, it only took me 5 days to finish the 8-5 page beast that is the second book in Sarah J. Maas’s Crescent City series, House of Sky & Breath. Warning that I am going to be using this review as a way for me to process my thoughts on the book. I am going to do my best to not share specific spoilers for House of Sky & Breath, but there may be slight spoilers for the first book, House of Earth & Blood below. I actually haven’t read too many reviews that include spoilers for House of Sky & Breath. Plenty of the bookish people I follow across social media have simply said that they love this book & have alluded to its shocking ending. I also highly recommend listening to Fated Mates’ podcast non-spoiler episode with Sarah J. Maas about HOSAB. I also plan on listening to SJM’s interview on the B&N Podcast this week. In this review, I am going to talk about my thoughts on the book & my relationship with SJM’s books overall..and yes, my reactions to THAT ending.
Nowadays, I don’t even really consider myself a fantasy fan aside from the occasional 1-2 books from fan favorite authors that I read (like Leigh Bardugo or Victoria Schwab) and of course, SJM. There’s just something so intricate yet somewhat – emphasis on somewhat because I don’t think I have the complete political details of HOSAB down just year & probably need a reread to do so – easy to understand world-building that just gets me every single time. I especially love HOSAB and the Crescent City series because I love how it blends the modern world and fantasy elements. And yes, again dear reader, this book is the most STEAMY out of SJM’s books, on an entirely new level from event A Court of Silver Flames). I really think HOSAB is way more fantasy romance than just high fantasy/adult fantasy compared to other books. There’s really no limit to the more mature content of HOSAB compared to SJM’s books. I know while it’s not every reader’s cup of tea, I love the fluff and the banter of these books and don’t mind the length of the novel.
Almost two weeks after finishing A Court of Silver Flames, the time has finally come for me to share my thoughts on Sarah J. Maas’s latest release. As I draft this review, I’m jumping from idea to idea to try to capture everything I want to say about the fourth installment in the ACOTAR series – I’m getting major flashbacks to my House of Earth & Blood review last March. It’s just a given now that my Sarah J. Maas book reviews are triple the size of my normal book reviews, which is fair being that I break my habit of reading 250-350 page contemporary & romance books to immerse myself in her 700+ page fantasy beasts.
There will be no spoilers for ACOSF within this review, but there will be spoilers for the first three books in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
I don’t think people have necessarily complained about it, but a few of my bookish friends & reviewers that I follow have pointed out that ACOSF is likely the most character-driven book out of all SJM’s novels. For a fantasy read, the plot definitely takes a back seat to Nesta’s personal journey and her relationship with Cassian. I think that ACOSF acts a little bit of a ACOTAR world reset for the upcoming books in the series, in that the world building & plot sets the stage for the rest of the series.
However, you likely know this about me if you’ve caught on to my reading tastes, but the combination of character growth and plot in ACOSF was the PEFECT blend of relationships meets plot for me. Honestly, I’ve read less and less fantasy over the past two years because I’ve realized that I care way more about character development and relationships in most of my fantasy reads than I do plot and trying to navigate between action and connecting the plot points.My love for ACOSF and SJM’s books as a whole really results from the fact that while there are complicated magic systems & plots involved, she just makes it so digestible and easy to understand.
You likely know this from my reading tastes too, but it’s no surprise that my favorite part of ACOSF was Nesta and Cassian’s relationship…and yes that includes all the romance. I was putting books on hold from the library a few nights ago and was curious to see how many people had put ACOSF on hold – side note that I bought my own copy of the Barnes & Noble edition and that all 10 county library copies were either checked out or being transferred to patrons – and I was shocked to see that ACOSF is listed still as YA. As a side note, ACOTAR and ACOSF are now being marketed as adult fantasy, which has been made helped the book’s cover changes. As per usual with some of SJM’s covers, I like ACOSF’s cover a lot more in person and it makes sense given the plot in the book, but it’s still not necessarily a favorite book cover of mine and leaves me wanting something more? I think in general even the first three ACOTAR books shouldn’t be considered YA (hellooooooo chapter 55 of ACOMAF), but ACOSF IS NOT YA because of the romance scenes.
But again, let’s be clear: I loved the romance scenes and honestly any scene involving Cassian and Nesta! Their sarcasm and ease with one another was so fun to read, alongside their more serious moments involving some conflicts. I really think that SJM has really nailed the balance between romance and relationship development between ACOSF and House of Earth and Blood alone. This balance is definitely seen in the first 3 ACOTAR books and the Throne of Glass series as well, but SJM’s latest two releases have a more mature take.Read More »