Review + Giveaway: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter
House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter
Series: Crescent City #1
Published by Orbit
Published on: May 13th, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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Augustine lives the perfect life in the Haven city of New Orleans. He rarely works a real job, spends most of his nights with a different human woman, and resides in a spectacular Garden District mansion paid for by retired movie star Olivia Goodwin, who has come to think of him as an adopted son, providing him room and board and whatever else he needs.
But when Augustine returns home to find Olivia's been attacked by vampires, he knows his idyllic life has comes to an end. It's time for revenge—and to take up the mantle of the city's Guardian.
I was super excited when I first discovered this novel because I’ve been meaning to give Kristen Painter’s writing a try, and although I’ve heard great things about her HOUSE OF COMARRE series, I have a more difficult time playing catch-up than I do jumping on the bandwagon at book 1. HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN has a lot going for it including captivating characters, detailed world-building, and a strong plot. Overall, I thought it was a good first installment, and a great introduction to Painter’s new CRESCENT CITY universe. However, I did have a major issue with Harlow; I found her to be very self-absorbed and I couldn’t sympathize with her daddy issues. She does get better as the story progresses, and I’m all for character growth, but her brattiness was just too extreme that it was difficult to see past it.
I really loved the world-building in this first installment—I wish there had been more of it! The CRESCENT CITY universe is so rich and diverse that I was hoping for a background chapter or maybe a glossary to help fill-in some of the blanks. Now, it’s my understanding that Augustine’s a secondary character from this author’s first series, so I’m assuming I would have probably benefited from starting with HOUSE OF COMARRE. But, already I find myself fascinated by all of the different types of fae. What sets the Shadeux apart from the Smokesinger and the Raptor? Vampires, shifters, witches, and voodoo further complete the picture, and help ensure that all paranormal readers will be able to enjoy this book no matter their preferred poison.
Harlow. Where do I begin? She and I did not get off to a good start. I found her bratty and very self-absorbed, and my opinion of her didn’t change until well past the mid-way point. I struggled to understand why she chose to alienate herself from her mother because of a man (her dad) she never met. Her attitude towards her inheritance on the tail end of her mother’s death was distasteful, and her prejudice against the fae was unjustified, especially given her genetics. Harlow does eventually begin to grow, and I found myself liking the character she might one day become if she continues down her new path. Unfortunately, the author made her heroine a little too
hateful to the point that Harlow’s behaviour actually overshadowed some of this novel’s other merits.
Augustine is a phenomenal character, and I can definitely understand why he earned his own spin-off series. I liked how his dark and light sides battle each other; he wants to do right by Olivia, his mom and Harlow, but it’s so hard to please everyone, and revenge has a way of twisting even the best of intentions. I enjoyed the diversity and scope of Painter’s secondary characters; Dulcinea, Fenton and Lally were insta-favourites, and I look forward to learning more about their backgrounds and seeing what roles they will play as this series progresses. It’s also worth mentioning that the villain is especially heinous, and I’m optimistic that the hunt is going to be almost as satisfying as the eventual final showdown.
New Orleans is a great setting for this story, and the author makes good use of her location. I enjoyed the beginnings of Kristen Painter’s main plot arc, and see a lot of potential for future installments. HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN has one major downfall, but otherwise delivers on all fronts. I have high hopes for CITY OF ETERNAL NIGHT.
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