House of the Rising Sun – Kristen Painter

About the Book

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.

403 pages (paperback)
Published on May 13, 2014
Published by Orbit
Author’s website

This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.

House of the Rising Sun isn’t my typical book. It’s more urban fantasy with a romantic bend than I’m usually into. However, sometimes that’s exactly what the doctor ordered. This was also the first book I’ve read by Kristin Painter. I’ve heard her name a lot, and I know people typically love her books. The mood struck me just right, and I sank into this one like a stone.

Unless you broaden your horizons, you’ll never know what gems are out there that you’re overlooking.

House of the Rising Sun was different for a few reasons. First, it takes place in a sort of alternate (maybe) future (or perhaps it is just an alternate version of our world?). The world knows about fae and vampires and the like, so you won’t have any long drawn out moments where an important characters says something like, “OMGWTFBBQ” for 124 pages. Secondly, most of the characters in the book are other (meaning ‘not human’) and thankfully, not all of the other-than-human characters are drop dead, pulse pounding, more gorgeous than possible.

Right there Painter got rid of a huge chunk of the urban fantasy tropes that drive me batty.

The other thing I enjoyed was that the characters were rather uncertain, and they both tried to make up for it in different ways. Augustine is the kind of womanizer that would make me kind of sick in real life. He wears his confidence like a shield of armor against the uncertainties that he deeply feels from his past. Harlow, the other main perspective and her insecurities are more obvious. Her questions regarding her father are repeated often, and she’s lived a rather isolated life because she’s never felt like she’s fit in.

Both characters are rather broken on a psychological level, and their ideas of family and friendship are dramatically influenced by their histories. It was a fantastic, and rather deep, take on characters in a genre that usually doesn’t appeal to me because it’s not typically that deep.

That being said, while Augustine and Harlow are very unique and alive in their uniqueness, they did get to be a little too much sometimes. Augustine’s man-whore ways and charm are incredibly obvious, and if they aren’t obvious to the reader, don’t worry, he talks about what an amazing charmer and how fantastic he is in bed quite frequently. Harlow almost never stops thinking or talking about who her father is. While these are important plotlines, it’s obvious enough from the character’s actions that they didn’t need to be repeated in dialogue and thoughts so often.

House of the Rising Sun has a rather fast paced plot, full of plenty of intrigue and action. There are surprises and twists that come in rapid succession. The world politics are very well thought out and incredibly enthralling. Though the book is set in a fairly stereotypical place for urban fantasy (New Orleans), Painter does a really good job at making it her own, and the plot is realistic enough and fast paced enough that it is easy to picture it taking place in such a location. While New Orleans might be overused in speculative fiction, Painter makes it her own and she does it with aplomb.

There is some romantic tension, and yes, I did get kind of sick of it. Color me jaded, but I get pretty tired of the I-shouldn’t-find-him-so-damn-attractive-or-want-him-so-much-but-I-do thing that lasts two-thirds of so many books. It’s pretty obvious how things are going to end up, so lets get there already. That being said, the romance, while being pretty paint-by-numbers, has a soft, almost natural feel to it that I didn’t expect. There is no wham-bam-lets-get-horizontal action here. It’s a softer, more subtle falling in love and I appreciated it more for that (despite the predictable romantic tension that goes on for a while).

So, let me boil this down to its roots.

House of the Rising Sun is a strong start to a series that has huge potential to be unique and absolutely captivating. This book is a pretty even balance between tropes and unique elements. Painter took some risks here, and they paid off. What could have been a pretty hum-drum type book ended up being a really fun, fast, and furious read. While I wasn’t absolutely blown away, I was excited enough that I’m anxious to read the next book in the series. I’m pretty excited about revisiting this very well crafted world, and the unique people that inhabit it.


3/5 stars

6 Responses

  • “Unless you broaden your horizons, you’ll never know what gems are out there that you’re overlooking.”

    That’s a great takeaway from any review, Sarah.

    • It’s true. The more I read, the more I realize that there is so much out there, if only I’m brave enough to take a chance.

  • Actually looks pretty good. I had ignored it as another typical Urban Fantasy, nice to see it stands apart. Most UF reads for me I wait for recs like this, don’t have the patience to dig through the sub-genre on my own for the most part.

    • It’s a book you’ll want to be in the right mood for. I’ll be interested in how you like/dislike it.

  • LOL. I totally get you about the we-all-know-where-this-is-going-so-get-on-with-it-already perspective towards the romantic tension in most UF books these days. I actually catch myself gnashing my teeth sometimes (and who does that?). I’m glad that other than that, the romantic aspect was well done, and this does sound like a solid start to the series. I’ll almost definitely check it out whenever I eventually finish the prior series–yes, I know I don’t HAVE to, but I’m OCD, so really, I do kind of have to . . . Great review!

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

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