Review: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter

June 3, 2014 3.5 stars, Book Review 16 ★★★½

Review: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen PainterHouse of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter
Series: Crescent City #1
Published by Orbit Books on May 13, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 403
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

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.


The where, what and when

I gave House of the Rising Sun 3.5 Stars and it got the extra .5 star by being set in New Orleans. My mind helpfully produces stately antebellum mansions with dripping Spanish moss and gorgeous wrought iron details every time it thinks about New Orleans. I have never been there, so pesky reality never sets in. The book is mainly set in the Garden District of New Orleans, with a few forays elsewhere.  The actual details in the story are quite lacking, which is why I mentioned that my imagination is happy to take over. If this was for a younger reader, they may not have a wide repertoire to build upon and the details would be lost. Kristen Painter does an excellent job of creating characters and I enjoyed reading this and being introduced to her world.

The story takes place in 2068, and the only real way you can tell is by a few changes in vocabulary such as cash money being referred to as “plastic” and cell phones being called LMDs or Life Management Devices. Cute. The other major change is that the fae have “come out” and live among humans openly and there are a few cities with Haven status. I did not understand what a Haven city really was. I gathered it was somewhere for fae to live more openly than elsewhere. This lack of detail and explanation is fairly prevalent throughout the book.  As Kristen Painter wrote another series, The House of Comarre Series, perhaps the explanations I needed were contained therein. For instance, what is a comarre? We run into one in House of the Rising Sun, and I hate stopping to look information like that up in a first novel for a series. I prefer a slight over-explanation to being left in the dark. There are many types of Fae in this book, and what they can or cannot do is still a mystery for me.

Characters, Characters

The main characters introduced in this series are Augustine and Harlow. They are both fae and human to some degree. Other characters included Lally the maid, Olivia the mother / mother figure, Dulicinea a fae hybrid and a few others. The POV changes around, but all of the stories are interwoven very closely. Harlow is not particularly likable to me. She is very uncommunicative and fairly uninteresting. I would probably find her more interesting if she was interested in herself. Augustine confronts his personal demons head on and has an introspective quality that I admire.  It makes him more mature and interesting to me.  Olivia is my favorite, mature and well balanced but not perfect. Between Augustine and Harlow exists a romantic connection that still needs to be explored. They never really progress beyond “footsie” as far as I can tell. There is a lot of “I really like him/her so I better not let on.” What a bother! They have insta-infatuation that reads almost as a romance book would. The tension is thick, and my expectations high. I hope that they at least explore their connection, regardless of how it may ultimately end.

You’ve got this, now give me that

There are excellent descriptions of food and great internal dialogue in this book. Augustine is a natural leader and a bad boy with a good heart. Internal dialogue is good but communication between people is lacking. World description is missing, but what is there, is solid and interesting. Rules of magic are not explained at all, hopefully that will come in a future book. The fae descriptions are also confusing or non-existent. We know that Augustine is a smoke singer/shadeux/human hybrid… but what does that mean as far as fae hierarchy? What are his powers, or what could they be? Harlow and Augustine will be receiving an education on their fae side in the future, that much was made clear.  Hopefully Kristen Painter will take advantage of that and educate me.

I really did enjoy reading House of the Rising Sun and I will likely read her other series to try and fill in the holes a little. Reading that series first is definitely not a requirement for reading and enjoying this book but it might help. While I didn’t feel like I missed out on a lot of back story I want to fill in the world some more, and I want to do it quickly! I am ready for the next book, City of Eternal Night, Crescent City book 2 to come out! So hopefully this December I can continue on in the Garden District of New Orleans. I can hear the Jazz music and smell the creole cooking in my mind already!


When not taking care of my two children, husband and mini doxy, rushing here and there on the go, I can always be found reading. Fantasy of course being my favorite genre, but not the only I'll read. Oh yes, and I throw bad books.

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16 Responses to “Review: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter”

  1. Lege


    I would never tell by that cover that mc is a guy. And name in the blurb can go either way as well…

    • Maggie Jones

      Right? There was a cameo from characters in the other series, and it read sort of awkwardly. That was the real clue that there was a series before this one. That and the blurb on the cover. I don’t think it makes a difference, it would just add texture to the world which is already pretty good. =)

  2. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I do like when my mind helpfully fills in the blanks with more description. I haven’t been to NO yet either but it’s on my list! Until then, antebellum mansions and Spanish moss work beautifully. I’ve heard great things about this series but haven’t read it yet…need to! Nice review. 🙂
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    • Maggie Jones

      I wouldn’t bother reading the other series first. I think this one stands alone quite well. Just a cameo which reads strange and a little terminology. Other than that, this series sounds more interesting to me anyway!

  3. Melliane

    I’m really about this one I confess and I love a book set in New Orleans so I’m curious. But the reviews are a little mixed about it and well at the end I’ll have to try to see how it is for me. But I have her other series at home too. thanks for the review!
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  4. Alan

    Are there ley lines under New Orleans? I’m wondering why so many paranormal books are set in NO? Is it the VooDoo? Is it the spanish moss? Is it the french quarter?

  5. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Great review, Maggie! I’m holding off on this series for now, but I’ll probably pick it up when there are a few more (good) installments. I’ve always been a sucker for an UF series that takes place in New Orleans, and I’ve done well with Painter for the most part 😉
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