Urban Fantasy gets an epic new entry with Kristen Painter’s new Crescent City series. The first installment of this multi-layered tale is House of the Rising Sun. As someone who had not particularly liked Painter’s House of Commare series, I was pleasantly surprised to really enjoy this story. With a shift away from vampires, we are introduced to the underside of the fae realm. The backdrop of New Orleans ties the old and new together in a tale which turns out to be a fun read.
Every vampire has heard rumor of the mythical place where their kind can daywalk. But what no vampire knows is that this City of Eternal Night actually exists.
And its name is New Orleans.
For centuries, the fae have protected the city from vampire infestation. But when the bloodsuckers return, the fragile peace in New Orleans begins to crumble.
Carefree playboy Augustine, and Harlow, a woman searching for answers about her absent father, are dragged into the war. The fate of the city rests on them — and their fae blood that can no longer be denied.
First and foremost, Painter brought a whole new approach to House of the Rising Sun which really separated it from her others books. With a focus on the male character Augustine, Painter starts off with an edgier action-oriented tone. I was relieved to find that romance was not at the core of the story, instead Painter focused on another kind of love- the one you have for your family, chosen or born to. This immediately made me warm up to the plot and simply enjoy it.
The characters in House of the Rising Sun range from endearing to irritating but above all, they seem like real people. Augie is a fae mix complete with gray skin and horns while Harlow is a wanna be human that ignores her heritage to simply try to blend in. This juxtaposition of those two characters really drives the story. It makes one question how they look at their ancestry for better or worse.
It is hard for me to not simply list all of the ways that Painter made me really like this as opposed to her House of Comarre series. She keeps some of her style like consistent switches in point of view but adds detail to them. For instance, Painter makes it so that the same scene is described in the perspective of Harlow and then of Augie, each one picking up on completely different things. Painter continues to also create interesting traditions for her subcultures like a holiday the full moon before Mardi Gras where fae let loose. Each of these small details makes House of the Rising Sun feel like Painter 2.0.
Painter created a new window into her established universe and showed that she could appeal to readers who didn’t necessarily want a romance-centric read. There were many small details which helped make the story more realistic be them good or bad. For instance, I really could have done without the crossover of characters from her previous serious but I loved how she utilized current cutting edge technology as commonplace in her near-future reality. Despite myself, I am really glad I gave Painter another try and look forward to the next book in the Crescent City series.