Crescent City Book Review – Sarah J Maas

Sarah J. Maas’ latest novel Crescent City is a behemoth of a book, full of action, vibrant characters and a gripping plot.

If you were in the bookish section of the internet last week you probably saw a little bit of a frenzy around New York Times bestselling author Sarah J Maas.

The authors latest novel, her first adult fiction released to much excitement from fans. Myself included. Today’s review, as always, is spoiler free so don’t worry if you haven’t started, or finished the book.

What is Crescent City book about?

The Crescent City book follows Bryce, a half human half fae. She used be a party girl, lighting up Crescent City, spending all night in clubs where the lines between the strict classes between angel, shifter, human and fae disappear.

Then Bryce’s closest friends are murdered by a demon.

Two years later, the murders begin happening again. Except the murderer was caught and is still in jail. As a witness to the original murders, Bryce is commanded by Crescent City’s leaders to investigate. She is assigned an enslaved angel, Hunt Athalar to ensure she does.

As Bryce and Hunt investigate they uncover more than just their underlying attraction to one another, but the truth that lies in Bryce’s own past.

What I liked about Crescent City?

I finished this book within days of its release. It helped that I am a fairly fast reader, and that there was a long weekend in Australia for me to hide away from the world for a few days. Regardless, I couldn’t put this book down.

As a novel it checks in at over 800 pages, so that the pacing is well done is an achievement.

I have read Sarah J Maas’s other books, both the Court of Thorns and Roses and Throne of Glass series, Crescent City was my favourite so far.

I say this because, it’s adult fiction.

That’s not to say anything against young adult fiction, not at all. If you subscribe to this blog you’ll know I read a fair amount of young adult fiction.

However I have felt a trend in Maas’s books towards adult fiction. Throne of Glass is clearly young adult fiction, and A Court of Thorns and Roses sits in a strange space of ‘new adult fiction’ (If you want to read more about my thoughts on ‘new adult fiction’ check out my full review here). So it’s refreshing to read Crescent City without the question of it’s audience appropriateness hanging over me.

As adult fiction the book has a higher quantity of coarse language as well as sexual content. It also delves into deep issues such as broken families, slut shaming, discrimination and slavery within the context of the fantasy city of Crescent City.

As I may have mentioned before on this blog, fantasy is one of my favourite genres because it gets away with discussing difficult topics. It’s a conversation starter, and goes deeper than the surface view of a story about elves, angels, wolves and other creatures.

The fantasy elements of Crescent City are different from Maas’ other series, being set in a sci-fi realm where much of the world is recognisable to the one you and I live within. There are social institutions and technology that we have. This made for a highly entertaining read.

Crescent City seeks early on to distinguish itself from Maas’ other fantasy series. Her previous series are both set in a near medieval style fantasy realm, whereas Crescent City is set in a modern city. It’s refreshing in its unfamiliarity and exciting in it’s scale.

The murder mystery that the book centres around is intriguing as well as emotionally devastating. The book had a thriller feel at times to it.

Maas has clearly tried to work on some of her male characters within this book. In the past her male romantic leads have been criticised as territorial, so she’s made clear efforts to make the romantic lead a more sensitive and complex character.

What I didn’t like about Crescent City?

My first critique is not of the book itself, but a comment around the difficulty young adult authors have when switching to writing adult fiction.

As I mentioned when I reviewed Never Night by Jay Kristoff, sometimes there is confusion about if a book is young adult fiction or not. When young adult readers misunderstand that the author is writing adult fiction authors often get harsh critique from readers or parents about the content of the book.

In the case of Never Night, the mistake could perhaps be understandable, as the book is about a sixteen year old girl. Yet it is not marketed as young adult fiction. Never Night is written for an adult audience.

Similarly, I have already seen some negative feedback online about Crescent City because of its adult content. This frustrates me, as the book is not marketed as young adult fiction. It is the duty of the reader to investigate any potential titles they pick up.

It’s not the fault of the author if expectations are not met because a reader misunderstands the intended audience. Bloomsbury publishing has been very clear in the marketing of Crescent City that it is written for adults. I think they’ve perhaps been even clearer than usual about this as a result of the confusion around A Court of Thorns and Roses marketing.

I’ve also seen some criticism around the world building within Crescent City. Some say there’s too much of it, particularly at the beginning, but once again I think it may be a case of misunderstanding. This time genre, rather than audience.

I would classify Crescent City as high fantasy. High fantasy generally has a lot more world building, and in particular at the beginning when the world is being established. This is typical of the high fantasy genre.

I would be curious to know if those who have critiqued the world building are very familiar with adult high fantasy.

It’s fantastic for people to give Crescent City a go, and it makes a good entry point into adult high fantasy, but not everyone will enjoy it, as is to be expected with any book.

My Recommendation?

Fantasy lovers, murder mystery fans this one is for you. If you’re an adult who enjoys good guys fighting evil and crime solvers this book is enjoyable. As I mentioned earlier the book is quite long, so it can feel like a bit of a commitment. It’s worth it.

If you don’t like complex fantasy novels and slow burn romance, perhaps pass this one by.

Where can I pick up a copy for Crescent City?

*Crescent City book paperback and hardback are available from Amazon. Isn’t the cover beautiful? I have the paperback, but the stunning endpapers of the hardback have me tempted.

*If you want to check out some of Sarah Maas’ other series, that I’ve mentioned in this post, here’s where you can purchase a copy of Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses. Having read both, if you lean more toward adventure, select Throne of Glass. If you’d like more romance, try A Court of Thorns and Roses.

*Should you choose to make your purchase using the link above I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to yourself. Please bear in mind that I only link to products and companies that I personally believe will benefit my readers. Thank you for your support! If you’d like more information about affiliate marketing please visit my disclosure page.

Final Thoughts

Sarah J Maas has delivered another fantastic fantasy book in Crescent City. I’m excited to see what is next in this series.

If you’ve read Crescent City tell me what you thought in the comments below (keep it spoiler free for our friends who are yet to read it).

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Hi! I'm Steph, a freelance writer for hire based in Australia. I'm an avid reader and love all things bookish! My blog is all about the written word.

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