Review + Giveaway: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter

Posted May 12, 2014 by Carmel in Carmel, Giveaways, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 90 Comments

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
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
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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.

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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.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]
Author Bio

A little about me: I’m a former college English teacher, but I’ve held a crazy mix of other jobs including maitre’d for Wolfgang Puck, personal trainer, and sales for Christian Dior Bijoux. On the writing side of things, I’m a two-time Golden Heart finalist and have been on the board of three different RWA chapters. What can I say? I like getting involved. I’m not adverse to bossing people around either.

I have a *slight* shoe addiction and occasionally indulge in an unnecessary handbag. Hah! That was a joke. There is no such thing as an unnecessary handbag. I love make up and jewelry and spa days. Yes, I’m a girly girl. But don’t think that makes me weak. I can (and do) kill off characters with the best of them. Speaking of which…

My forays into writing have been as varied as the jobs I’ve held. I’ve written poetry, articles for magazines, short stories, paranormal romances (that include fantasy, contemporary and steampunk genres) and now I’ve found a home with urban fantasy. I love worldbuilding and few genres give you the kind of license urban fantasy does. | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | GoodReads | Amazon
[/author_info] [/author]

House of the Rising BT

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May 12 Between Fantasy and Reality Wicked Lil Pixie
Rabid Reads All Things Urban Fantasy
May 13 The Avid Book Collector Ramblings From This Chick
Gizmos Reviews May 16 Talk Supe
Little Read Riding Hood May 19 Booked and Loaded
Romancing the Dark Side Ageless Pages Reviews
Readers Confession May 20 Taking Time for Mommy
Books Make Me Happy Books Make Me Happy
Book Soulmates May 21 According to Squenn
Wicca Witch 4 Book Blog Book Lovin’ Mamas
May 14 Doctor’s Notes Book Soulmates
Pamaceeve’s Blog May 22 Literal Addiction
Wicca Witch 4 Book Blog May 23 The Book Nympho
May 15 Step Into Fiction Readers Confession

Crescent City
City of Eternal Night by Kristen Painter


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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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90 responses to “Review + Giveaway: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter

  1. I absolutely agree with you about Harlow! I think this story could have been amazing had she forgotten about her daddy issues. I also agree that you probably should read the Comarre series because that gives you some idea behind Painter’s world, and the different fae, and vampires.

    • Darn it Harlow! Smarten up! LOL Thanks for the heads up about reading the Comarre series. Maybe I can squeeze in the first few books before the next Crescent City installment hits shelves.

  2. I love that this had a strong plot and great world building but worried about not liking the main character. It is so hard to connect to a book and story if you aren’t in love with the main character.

  3. Margaret  

    I more or less agree with you about Harlow, though I think her issues made more sense when we found out about her heritage. I also loved the world and the Fae.

    I would ask why she chose to make the new characters, especially the villain, the types of Fae that she did. Most of them are types that we’ve seen before in the Comarre series. I think it might be too spoilery if she actually answered that question though.

    • I think Harlow’s daddy issues rubbed me the wrong way because I lost my mom a few years back, and it pissed me off that she was treating her mom so poorly when I would give anything for one more minute with mine.

      • Margaret  

        That makes sense. I read a romantic comedy about a woman going through a divorce and it hit so close to home I couldn’t find it funny.

  4. Harlow definitely sounds tricky to like in the beginning of this one Carmel, but I’m glad by the midway point she starts to show some growth and you were able to warm to her just a bit. I really enjoyed the House of Comarre series, so I’m looking forward to giving this new series a try!

  5. Not such a great thing when the character’s issues make you dislike her so much. I mean, I can get behind some dislikable characters but there has to be something redeeming about them. Sounds like an interesting premise with promise for the next book!

  6. bookwormbrandee  

    The book sounds great with the exception of a bratty heroine, Carmel. I, too, enjoy good worldbuilding and plot, and I really enjoy character growth. But I think I might have an issue with Harlow as well. I’m glad you liked the overall plot arc and found pleasure in the book, overall. Great review!

  7. Ok I hope I don’t want to rip the book to shreds when I get aggravated with Harlow because I hate annoying bratty characters but hopefully Augustine will balance that for me I’m still super excited I think my copy arrives tomorrow!

  8. I was really looking forward to this one, but my excitement just went down a notch 🙁 I will still listen, maybe the narrator can give me a better impression of Harlow. Will see 🙂
    Thank you Carmel 🙂

    • The narrator could definitely have a HUGE impact on how Harlow is perceived. Here’s hoping that Elijah Alexander works some audiobook magic with this one!

  9. Aimee  

    I like a lot of Kristin Painter’s books, but I haven’t given this series a try. I may bump it down on the list, if the main character is as bratty is it sounds. That drives me crazy.

  10. this looks awesome 🙂 I’m just diving into her first series so I’m happy to get started. Ummm… I’d ask her about inspiration 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  11. Oh gosh, I skimmed after the Harlow paragraph, I can be easily swayed so I want to have zero expectations at this point. Will be back after I’ve read it (will actually start today coz I’m a crammer, always been, always will be).

  12. This is one book that caught my eye when I first saw the cover. It just says *grab me* I think if I had to ask Kristin anything it would be ‘how does it feel to be published and how does she handle good/bad reviews’. I always love hearing what established authors have to say!

    Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.

  13. This one showed up at my door from Orbit last week! I’d originally passed on requesting from netgalley, given my already huge review pile there, but I can’t deny I’ve always been a bit intrigued even from the start. So I’ll definitely be reading it now! Looks like a good beginning to a series, I’m probably tackle it next…let’s see how I deal with Harlow 🙂

  14. rhireading  

    “I have a more difficult time playing catch-up than I do jumping on the bandwagon at book 1.” — this is exactly where I am with Kristen’s work. My cousin handed me the first 3 HOC books with a promise that I’d love them but when do most bloggers have time to read 3 books in a row from a single series? lol

    I might have to jump on this one though. Thanks for the review Carmel!

    My question for Kristen is why she chose to set this series in NOLA? It tends to be heavily used in the genre so I imagine it is not a super easy choice?

    • I can’t remember the last time I read a series back-to-back… ok that’s not true, it was Jennifer Estep’s EA series, but still… that was like a year ago. Time is always an issue.

  15. I have been wanting to try this author as well, but I am like you and more apt to jump on a new series than try and play catch up. I like the sound of the world and NO is a great setting. Hopefully I can get beyond Harlowe’s issues.

  16. I loved this world and the story but like you Carmel, I couldn’t connect with Harlow. I thought her extrememly immature for her age (she’s in her 20s, right?), at times I thought she could easily be a 17 year old. I thought her daddy issues were a sad excuse for pretty much disowning her mother and didn’t really find anything redeeming in her character until the very end of the book, but I’m still not sold on her or why Augustine finds her so fascinating…just didn’t see it in this book. I hope she grows up a little more in the next book, yeah I’m a masochist so I’ll be continuing on with the series! LOL

    • Sounds like you disliked the heroine even more than I did. LOL I did not think that that was possible. But, at least you’re not the only masochist around Lori, because I will be continuing this series too.

      • I think it’s because I expected her to start off that way and eventually change her attitude but she didn’t. I don’t hate her, she’s just not my cup of tea…haha

  17. It must be so difficult to have a heroine you don’t like. Doesn’t happen to me a lot but it’s upsetting. I was really curious about this one I confess but as I’m not in the US orbit didn’t accept my request but now I’m also curious about the world the author built, it sounds so rich and complex. I would love to discover it. I actually have the first book of the HOUSE OF COMARRE series but I still haven’t read it, I’ll have to try to see how it is. Thanks for the review.

    • Aaw, that’s too bad about Orbit declining your ARC request. That happens to be a lot too. I understand the copyright issues, but it’s still annoying, especially when it’s an eBook.

  18. Carmel, your rating is about right for how I felt about House of Comarre series. First book was amazing, second disappointing and I gave up on the third. So far my impressions are that the author has potential but she chases too many ideas to give any one of them a really goon spin *shrugs* Great review!

  19. Question is, just how annoying would Harlow strike me as? I’m one of those poor souls who can’t love a book if I don’t love the MC or the main couple. From what you’ve so kindly shared with with us about her, I’m thinking I wouldn’t like her at all. The world-building sounds fantastic and I’d probably fall for it regardless of the MC. Will give it a try, I can’t resist good world-building 😀

  20. I’ve eyed this one a couple of times on Netgalley and just couldn’t make up my mind. It sounds interesting, as long as I can handle Harlow in the beginning. 🙂 Good to know up front.

  21. Ya. I also skipped this on NetGalley. But I am joining this giveaway damn it, because that is too good to pass up. I tend to read books I win more regularly just because they are right in front of me.

  22. Christy  

    Yeah, I do better just jumping on a new series instead of starting one that’s so deep in too. I actually like the fact that you wish there was more world building. Weird? Yes. 😀

  23. I haven’t had a chance to read The House of Comarre series yet, although I have the books on my TBR shelf, so I’m hoping I can start this series without having read them. Or will reading them first be best?

  24. Chelsea B.

    Ohhhh! This sounds like a great series!
    Who would she cast in the movie version of her books???

  25. I would love to ask Kirsten Painter how she comes up with her unique plot lines? I haven’t read The House of Comarre yet but have certainly heard a lot about it, didn’t realise she had a new series out. This one sounds really good, will be adding to the TBR for sure! Lovely review Carmel!

  26. Oooh, the premise is pretty interesting, yeah. I’d love to read more about this one, plus the cover is amazingly well-done. 🙂 Thanks for the review, love! Can’t wait to meet the heroine. I have a feeling we’ll initially have a rocky start, but that’s what character development is for! 😀

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

  27. I’m about 75% into reading this one and plan to review it in the next day or so. I’ll come back and read your review then. I don’t want you influencing me woman. 🙂 Hey…Do you mind if I include a link to your review when I post mine? Just to give my millions of readers (bahaha) another review opinion to take a gander at.

  28. Naomi  

    Great review Carmel! I haven’t read any of Kirsten’s books… but I have books 1-3 in the HOUSE OF COMARRE series…. I need to get onto it I think. It is funny how you can not like a character in the beginning, and as the book progresses they grow and become a more likable character. I think I’d like to meet Augustine too…. he sounds great!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace