Series: Crescent City #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published by: Orbit on May 13, 2014
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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 received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A fascinating new paranormal world set in the perfect setting, New Orleans!
When I first picked this book up I wasn’t aware it’s a spin-off of Kristen Painter’s House of Comarre series (which I haven’t read yet). My reading OCD took over for a minute but I decided to continue reading anyway. In no way did I feel I was missing out on any story line from past events in this book and while the main character Augustine appeared in the HoC series as a supporting character, this story is his own. These two series take place in the same world but easily stand alone.
HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN is a stellar series debut by Kristen Painter. Her fabulous storytelling grips you from the first page till the very last. I love the variety of supernatural creatures in this world. The mix of humans, fae, vampires, and witches intermingling in such a historic and magical city like New Orleans really sets the suspenseful tone of the story. The world building is extraordinary and her multi-faceted characters are quite intriguing (some more than others I might add). The various factions of Fae in this world is an element I found really intriguing, each group has abilities which are unique to their kind but some can possess more than one ability when cross breeding occurs.
When the story begins Augustine has no worries in his life. He resides in a beautiful mansion owned by Olivia Goodwin, a legendary actress who has taken him in as her own and spends his nights in the company of a variety of female companions. Life in the Haven couldn’t be better for Augustine, until an act of violence by a group of vampires claims the life of Olivia and changes the course of his life forever. Seeking vengeance for the murder of the woman he considered a mother figure, Augustine gives up his cozy life to become the city’s Guardian and get justice for his dear friend Olivia.
Judging by the book’s cover, I initially thought HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN’S protagonist to be Harlow, Olivia’s daughter. Shortly after reading I realized Augustine is the main character and Harlow is more of a supporting character in this installment. I love a male POV so this was a pleasant surprise for me.
I instantly fell in love with Augustine. He’s the perfect mix of dark and light, a swoon-worthy hero and gentleman, yeah…I’d say he’s the total package. As part Shadeux and Smokesinger Fae he has a dark side but tends to lead with his heart, there’s a beautiful contradiction to his character..as if he’s in a battle to save his soul. He’s also a bit of a rebel which I love, Augustine’s definitely a reluctant hero but quickly grows into his role as Guardian. In my opinion his only flaw was putting up with Harlow’s attitude! I couldn’t see how such a charismatic man could be attracted to her haughty personality. I guess Augustine sees something I don’t in Harlow, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that.
“The time to return to dangerous living had arrived.”
Confession: I don’t usually have a problem connecting with heroines/leading ladies. Sometimes it takes a little longer with some but I can usually find a redeeming quality to change my mind. Sadly, that wasn’t the case with Harlow Goodwin. My initial impression of her was of a smart, independent young woman who has crazy hacking skills and extrasensory abilities which cause her to avoid physical contact with others. She reminded me a little of Rogue from X-Men (yes, I’m a geek-girl). Not too bad, right? Wrong. The more I got to know her, the more I wanted to smack her.
Harlow is said to be in her twenties but her immaturity had me questioning her age on more than one occasion. I found her to be condescending and selfish, every move she made was based on saving herself. Her reasons for “disowning” her mom stem from wanting to know who her father is which I found a petty excuse. Once reunited, Harlow makes no attempt to make amends with Olivia and is just there for the money she needs to pay off her fine.
I thought she would have a change of heart after Olivia’s death but that didn’t happen. Her mom just died and she’s thinking about selling her house and her inheritance…WTF?! I was really disgusted and couldn’t sympathize with her. I was also dumbfounded by her negative attitude towards the Fae, being Fae herself. The one time I saw some personality shine through was when she got a little tipsy and started flirting with Augustine, she was funny and let her hair down for about ten minutes. I would have liked to have seen more of that side of Harlow. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that her character grows as the series progresses, especially if there is a romance with Augustine in the cards, it will make or break the series for me. This is a rare instance where I was 100% invested in the hero and overlooked the heroine, mostly due to her actions.
“She was trading Olivia’s legacy for her own freedom. Her troubles–and prison–were about to be behind her. But at what cost?”
Secondary characters are sometimes underdeveloped when the world building is so rich, but Kristen Painter did not drop the ball when it came to Lally, Dulcinea, and Fenton. They were just as important to the story as Augustine and Harlow in my opinion. Each has their charm and I look forward to seeing more of them and their importance to the story in future books. Every good story needs an equally good villain and boy did we get one you’ll love to hate!
Painter’s Crescent City series is off to a bright start with HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN. This supernatural world is filled with secrets, action, power struggles and two characters who are trying to find their place in the midst of it all. While I couldn’t fully connect with Harlow, I’m smitten with the book’s hero Augustine and will be revisiting this world when CITY OF ETERNAL NIGHT is released. Augustine, it’s official…you’re my new book boyfriend! <3
The Crescent City Series: