My best buddy Angie came up with a brilliant blog post idea.
Obviously, since she is brilliant!
The two of us have played around with the idea of a Chapter Tag, where you pick a select number of books, read the first chapter and each of us decide which one sounds better. The whole idea was Angie’s, but she was extra brilliant when she realized that Ninth House and The House of Earth and Blood made for a good comparison.
Well, first of all Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J Maas are two heavy hitters in the YA Fantasy genre. If you haven’t heard of Throne of Glass or the Grishaverse you’ve been hiding under a rock. Second, both of them released Adult novels within months of each other. And, finally, (and I just realized this one) both reference “houses” in the title!
Brilliance, I tell ya!
Now, I should admit here that I’m a big fan of Leigh Bardugo. I’ve read all her Grisha books, and pretty much love the world and cast of characters she’s created. Basically, I’m already a fan.
The opposite is true of Sarah J Maas. I read Throne of Glass and loved it. Then, I read Crown of Midnight, went into a rage, and never picked up another book by this author again…
To say I’m biased is an understatement.
I tried to be impartial in my own results below.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Alex Stern #1
Flatiron Books | October 8, 2019
About the Book:
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.
Ninth House sounds darker than the SJM book. I’ve seen a few reviews that make it sound like it’s got teeth. Picking this up for the chapter vs chapter, I first had to read a prologue. The prologue definitely gives you a glimpse of the story’s bite, but then when I started chapter 1 I found myself having a harder time focusing on the story. It takes place in a school atmosphere, and there’s a bit of history with it which is all understandable. Unfortunately the incline the prologue took ended up falling flat in the first chapter.
This is something I’m actually used to with Leigh Bardugo.
In my mind, she’s not known for her starting scenes. The prologue shows where this story may go.
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas
Crescent City #1
Bloomsbury | March 3, 2020
About the Book:
Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.
Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.
As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.
After reading the first chapter I can tell two things. First, there is going to be a LOT of characters, and a lot of different types of magical creatures. Second, this world is going to be confusing as hell. Granted, after reading only one chapter I shouldn’t feel adept at describing how the houses work with the different types of beings, but I am nervous it will be too large for this author to navigate.
On the other hand, Sarah J Maas started off strong with a main point of view from someone with personality. While there is only one person telling the story, we were introduced to four different women, and I was intrigued by all of them.
Impartially, I’m definitely giving the win to Sarah J Maas. When I saw the world is going to be huge, I mean it. Just opening the book to see the Houses explained made my headspin. BUT, I really freaking loved the four characters we met in the first chapter. I made myself stop at the end of the first chapter because my ARC review list for April is rough, and also because I wanted to make this competition as fair as possible.
Trophy goes to Sarah J Maas.
Now, my biased opinion:
I will have to read both books. I feel in my gut, when I finish the last page, Leigh Bardugo will retain her championship. Her books pick up steam after the first chapter. Also, her chapter was much longer than SJM’s so I didn’t get to compare chapter endings because I wanted to keep the page count equal.
Plus, I already own both books in hardcover.
There was no way I could resist those beautiful covers!
Angie and I saved the surprise for each other. Prior to today, I had no idea if she would pick Ninth House or House of Earth and Blood. I’m eager to see if we ended in agreement!
So, just like me, don’t forget to head over and see which YA Mogul Angie chose for our first Chapter vs Chapter!
My lips are sealed. 😉
Sarah J Mass is one of my favourite authors and after reading Crescent City, I’ll proudly say it’s my new favourite book in YA fantasy. The world was a bit overwhelming in the beginning, but as you continue to read, she explains everything so well and you eventually feel like you are apart of that world.
Enjoyed this type of review.
For some reason I thought Crescent City was Adult, or at least NA. Is that not true?
Well Wendy I was lost in both books at the beginning honestly! It was each time a new world and something happened in the past with a lot of info dump. BUT once I got my baring I was all in and both were 6 stars!
You’ve already read both of them! Nice! BUT, if you had to pick only one, which one was better?