5 books to read if you loved Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood

Photo: Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas.. Image Courtesy Bloomsbury Publishing
Photo: Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas.. Image Courtesy Bloomsbury Publishing /

If you loved Sarah J. Maas’s contemporary fantasy debut Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood, here are five series that will help tide you over until the next book hits shelves.

The wait between a book you loved and the publication of its sequel can often feel interminable, especially when you know that its release date is farther away than you’d like. Such is the case with bestselling author Sarah J. Maas and her new contemporary fantasy series Crescent City.

The first novel, subtitled House of Earth and Blood, was released in March of 2020, but its still-untitled sequel won’t hit shelves until November 2021, almost a year and a half after the first book did. What are we all meant do until then?

Read more books, of course! Though the wait for the Crescent City sequel feels like it’s going to be forever, there are plenty of great fantasy series already waiting for you on shelves right now, each similar vibes to Maas’ magical modern world. From a futuristic dystopian London populated by powerful clairvoyants to secret societies that can conjure the dead and literal angels and demons, new worlds are literally just a page away.

Here are five of our picks, and why you should give them each a look.

The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon

Much like Maas’ own novels, Samantha Shannon’s work skirts the line between contemporary and young adult fiction, boasting particularly rich world-building and a dense, complex plot.

Her Bone Season series is set in a future dystopian version of London where a small segment of the population has been deemed “unnaturals” for their array of clairvoyant abilities. It follows the story of Paige Mahoney, who works in the city’s criminal underworld and scouts information by breaking into the minds of others. (Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant who is capable of entering other people’s minds — here known as “dreamscapes”.)

Given that she is basically committing treason by existing, Paige’s life is difficult enough as she and her fellow members of the Seven Dials gang eke out a living and battle for control of the criminal syndicate that runs underground London. But when she’s drugged and kidnapped by a government agent, she awakens to a whole new nightmare: She’s been transported to the secret city of Oxford, which the public believes has been destroyed but which is actually being ruled over by a powerful, otherworldly race.

This is perhaps an extremely simplified explanation for what is a very complicated story, but it’s full of hidden rewards for those prepared to dig into Shannon’s world and characters. The fourth book in the series – out of a planned seven – is due to hit shelves in January.

Perfect for fantasy fans who like big, sprawling sagas.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

A trilogy of novels focused on a seventeen-year-old girl who gets caught in the middle of an ancient war between Seraphim and Chimaera in a parallel universe, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone is perfect for fans who love the rich worldbuilding of Maas’ works.

The complex hierarchy and deep history of the chimaera’s secret world – these are creatures who have human and animal aspects – is plotted in intricate detail. And young Karou’s struggle to straddle life between the real world and the one in which she was raised by half-human, half-animal creatures who often use her to trade in teeth and wishes is compellingly put together. (Things only get more complicated when the angels enter the story.)

The story is full of twists and turns, with high stakes and dark themes. The characters are messy and compelling figures who make mistakes and selfish choices and at times it’s tough to know who exactly the good guys in this story are supposed to be. Maybe the lesson is that there aren’t any. A YA fantasy that’s rather darker than your average, with more adult plots.

From Blood and Ash – Jennifer L. Armentrout

Popular author Jennifer L. Armentrout is the force behind many popular contemporary fantasy series – such as her Lux, Origin, and Harbinger trilogies. But it is her Blood and Ash series that perhaps feels closest to Maas’ work.

This series is Armentrout’s take on the “chosen one” trope and follows the story of Poppy the Maiden, a young girl waiting for her Ascension so that she might serve her kingdom. She cannot be spoken to or touched, and her face is always covered. Her life, such as it is, is dedicated to being found worthy by her gods. But despite her supposed great destiny, Poppy struggles to reconcile her duty with her desire for freedom – particularly when a handsome guard is assigned to her to help ensure her Ascension takes place.

Those that love the bickering chemistry-laden romances of Crescent City and Maas’ other works will find a lot to enjoy here, and much like House of Earth and Blood, a complex slow beginning gives rise to a breakneck story that doesn’t quit.

Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo

Like Maas, Leigh Bardugo is another megapopular YA author who tried her hand at writing adult contemporary fantasy in 2020. (While continuing her popular Grishaverse YA series with new releases King of Scars and Lives of the Saints.)

Titled Ninth House, the story follows Alex Stern, a freshman at Yale who is also a member of Lethe, the eponymous Ninth House which basically monitors and oversees the rituals of the other “Houses of the Veil” – the eight so-called secret societies that exist at the school. (And which include recognizable names like Scroll and Key and Skull and Bones.)

Each group has particular special abilities – to read the future of the stock market in blood and entrails, to forge unbreakable contracts, or raise the dead. (Sort of.) Lethe exists to keep the groups in line, clean up the messes of the other houses and corral the ghosts – known here as Grays — that are frequently drawn to large demonstrations of magic.

As the newest member of Lethe, Alex must try to figure out how to fit in in both a society and at a school that is the utter opposite of everything she’s ever known her life, solve a mysterious murder and locate her suddenly missing mentor. Ninth House is a rich, complicated story whose disparate pieces come together in satisfying ways – plus it’s more than a bit bloody.

A perfect read for those who like their fantasy a little on the darker side.

The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater’s fantasy series The Raven Cycle is comprised of four books – The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and The Raven King.  It follows the story of four private school boys and a psychic’s daughter who search for an ancient magic in the mountains of Virginia, uncovering sentient trees, powerful dreams, and the devils in themselves.

There’s Blue, the daughter of a Henrietta, Virginia psychic who has been told that if she ever kisses her true love he’ll die. Gansey seeks the Welsh magic he believes saved his life. Adam wants to find a way out of the circumstances he was born into. And Ronan wants to rediscover the magic of his childhood. These various characters come together in the search for an ancient sleeping Welsh king named Owen Glendower.

Though the beats of this story won’t exactly feel new to folks that read a lot of fantasy, Stiefvater’s novels are particularly adept at weaving ancient magic and longstanding tropes with modern-day, relatable problems. At its heart, it’s a tale of adventure, friendship, and love, and all the magic stuff is just the icing on the cake.

When will the next installment in the Crescent City series hit shelves?. dark. Next

What other books would you recommend to Crescent City fans? Sound off in the comments