I feel like we waited forever to get our hands on the second Crescent City book, House of Sky and Breath, by Sarah J. Maas. I know it wasn't actually that long, but I'd become so attached to the characters and so much was left hanging in the balance that it was definitely my most eagerly awaited sequel this year.
She certainly didn't disappoint in regards to content, the book is chock full of action and drama.. in fact, a lot happens within the scope of just one book.. and all my favorite characters make an appearance. Well, the surviving ones thus far. Plus, I got to know some really intriguing new ones.. and not all of them are pleasant.
As I said, Maas really covered a lot of ground from a plot perspective. I don't feel like anything left from book one was really tied up, but this is a middle book and I'm fine with that. In fact, I almost feel like too much happened because there were scenes I think could have and should have played out in more detail. Scenes which could have really impacted me emotionally like the first book did, but instead.. I had one moment of dread toward the end and then it was over.
It's important to remember that it's really difficult to balance such a huge cast of characters and a story with so many diverging plotlines. Honestly, I'm impressed Maas can keep it all straight. I feel like even with a pinboard of note cards looking like I was on an FBI taskforce, I'd still miss things.
That being said, I think book two could have benefitted from maybe being spread into the next book. I know we all love Ruhn and wanted more of him, but I also feel like he got a bit short-changed by starting to get some focus in the middle of what's all happening here. Maas is still trying to give the fans a lot of Hunt and Bryce, which is fair.. while introducing us to Ruhn's life a bit more, but there are a lot of side stories going on at the same time.. a lot of seeds being planted for the next book.
In fact, it feels like there's so much going on and so many things being set-up, that almost nothing gets proper focus EXCEPT Hunt and Bryce. It was great to get steamy with them, but I don't know that three scenes were really necessary when so many other things didn't play out in as much detail. There were scenes that could have been so impactful if given enough time and care.
Highlights for me definitely included getting a better look at the familial structures and the ripple effect that Sandriel left behind. I loved the direction Maas went regarding the afterlife, it may have been my favorite aspect of HoSaB.. and the reveals about the Asteri, also fantastic.
Baxian and Pollux are fascinating for different reasons, same with the rest of the 'newcomers.' I am hopeful that Maas will really let some of the characters out to play in the next book, as it felt like she was holding back a bit here. Lots of mention of their histories and reputations, but no real opportunity to see them at work. I feel like I would have a better chance to connect with them.. for better or worse.. if those characters were truly present in who they're painted as being, but even moments where they act out.. feel very half-hearted.
The one problem that I felt was an issue in House of Earth and Blood, does rear its head here too. The big scene near the end is basically a complete download of information during a conversation.. and with all the other great writing.. it just ends up feeling very lazy. But, at least there's some very interesting implications in the final pages..
Regardless, I did love the book and I can't wait for the next one. Here we go again.. the countdown begins.