Composite image of all three Crescent City books on an urban skyline background

If We Had To Choose a Top Crescent City Book…

Sarah J. Maas’ most recent book series has spanned three books (so far) since 2020, but which one holds up as the best?

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Warning: This article will contain spoilers for all three Crescent City books and the entire Maasiverse.

The Crescent City series, so named after the urban fantasy location the majority of the books are set in, has been going since 2020. The author, Sarah J. Maas, was no stranger to the world of fantasy, with two successful series already under her belt in the form of Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses, but this was her first foray into urban fantasy.

Unlike the medieval-style settings of her first two series, the characters in Crescent City have cellphones, do drugs, and live in a skyscraper-filled city called Lunathion. The FMC is Bryce Quinlan, a half-Fae, half-human woman in her early twenties who loves to dance—and pretty quickly gets wrapped up in a dangerous world that brings her into contact with the other supernatural creatures that live one on top of the other in Lunathion.

There are three books in the series so far, with the possibility of at least a fourth on the cards—although there might be a bit of a wait for the next instalment. Judging on what we’ve seen so far, here’s every Crescent City book, ranked from worst to best.

House of Flame and Shadow

Oh, honey. Oh, House of Flame and Shadow (HOFAS). We had such high hopes for you. But you just fell short.

After the cliffhanger that we left House of Sky and Breath on, HOFAS needed to deliver. Maas is known for her somewhat erratic pacing, usually using the same structure of a few hundred paces of character building and slow-build romance, with a final 100 pages where all the action takes place. HOFAS flipped the script, picking up with some rapid fire adventure with Bryce and ACOTAR characters Nesta and Azriel.

There was a mighty amount of exposition in the first few hundred pages, broken up by some truly heartwarming moments back in the world of Crescent City with Ruhn, Hunt, and the others. Every chapter from Lidia’s point of view shined, being a real light in what was otherwise a bit of a confusing book.

Perhaps the hype was too much for HOFAS to live up to. Although some fans were disappointed that characters like Rhys and Feyre didn’t make more of an appearance, this doesn’t feel like a far criticism because it is, at the end of the day, a Crescent City book. However, there was a lot of setting up for plot points that just didn’t pan out.

Why didn’t we get any answers about Ithan, other than that he plays sunball? What role did Tharion play in the end? Why does the entire fate of the world of Crescent City rest on an antidote that appears to be easy to make? How does the very same antidote act like a OP powerup for every character? How are so many Asteri killed off so easily?

Honestly, there are too many abandoned plot points to count. Let’s try and reserve judgement to some degree, seeing as Maas is known for coming back to seeming plot holes later on in her series—and Crescent City is far from over. There was also plenty to love in HOFAS, whether that’s Lidia and Ruhn’s arc, some real relationship growth between Byrce and Hunt, and the references to the fire-breathing bitch queen herself, Aelin Galathynius. However, from the standard that Maas set herself in her earlier books in this series, there’s no other place for this book than at the bottom.

House of Sky and Breath

Next up is House of Sky and Breath (HOFAS)—and no, we’re not just working backwards through the order list. This is the second book in the Crescent City series and suffered from the sheer length of it, coupled with Maas’ classic ‘wild last hundred pages’ structure.

The middle section of HOFAS dragged and much of the book is held up by its bombshell of a cliffhanger, revealing that all of Maas’ books are set within the same universe. Aside from that, it felt like a very character-driven book—and there’s a lot to love in that.

We got to see more of Bryce’s caring side with how she handled the situation with Emile, as well as more of the tactical side of her that we love. The tense forbidden romance between Day and Night (aka Lidia and Ruhn) was an absolute highlight, whether you could work out who Day was before the big reveal or not.

Plus, the revelations about the Asteri had many a fan slamming their book down in shock. In all honesty, the sheer theory-spawning power of this book makes it a must-read alone. However, it just can’t move into the top spot because that clearly belongs to…

House of Earth and Blood

House of Earth and Blood (HOEAB). Back to where it all began, HOEAB was a breath of fresh air when it came to adult fantasy. Sure, the first 100 pages featured some rapid-fire world-building, but the urban setting, the magic drugs, the melting pot of different supernatural creatures—it all came together to create a masterpiece of a book.

Part of the reason why fans critique the second two books in this series so fiercely is because HOEAB is so beloved. Where Throne of Glass was fantasy was a splash of romance and ACOTAR romance with a splash of fantasy, HOEAB is a fast-paced urban murder mystery, with both romance and fantasy thrown in.

The spice is elevated to a classy new level—even if you have to wait for it and the plot is intricately woven together, with excellent payoffs in the end. There are enough revelations to keep things interesting but not so many that you aren’t genuinely emotional with the reunion between Byrce and Danika at the end.

Unlike a lot of adult fantasy, this relationship between two friends is at the heart of HOEAB and it’s something truly beautiful to behold. Almost as beautiful as imagining the remains of Micah getting vacuumed up and disposed of. Just stunning.

(featured image: Bloomsbury Publishing)


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