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May 16, 2014

Liked It; House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter + Quick Chat

Series: Crescent City 1
Format: eGalley
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Recommended By: Jenese of Readers Confession
Genre: Urban Fantasy
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.



Can you tell us more about this series and Augustine? How is this different/similar to your other vampire series House of Comarrè? 

Kristen Painter: The Crescent City series if fae focused, whereas the House of Comarre series was all about vampires (for the most part.) But the two series share a world and there will be some character crossover. Augustine is a bit of a different kind of hero for me. He's much more laid back, he loves life (generally), loves all the pleasures it brings and really has no desire to change his status quo. He's basically a playboy. 


There's been a lot of vampire series released. How is Crescent City similar and unique from what's already out there in terms of myth, plot, etc? 

Kristen Painter: The vamps that do occur in the Crescent City series follow the same rules since the two series are set in the same world. Crescent City takes place about three months after House of Comarre ends.


I know there will be a lot of questions about the main characters so I'll go the other way and ask you about the bad guys. Who or what are they and why are they menacing?

Kristen Painter: I don't want to give away too much but I will say the main bad guy in this series is menacing because he's so close to home. There are other baddies afoot, however, and I'd have to say their menace comes from their unpredictability. They've all been really fun to write!




Welcome to my HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN tour stop, book 1 of Kristen Painter's latest series, Crescent City, a spin-off of her award winning urban fantasy series, House of Comarre! With all the published reviews and a few more coming your way, I'll trim the fat and get to the meat of things. 

PLOT: HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN is a fae vs. vampire story set in New Orleans in the year 2068. The setting is still fairly familiar as New Orleans pretty much "resisted" the modern world and stayed old school for the most part. Aside from a few innovations, the world KPainter created isn't too advanced for this to be science fiction. On the side of world-building, she took her time setting up her game board and positioning her characters. My regret is I wish I had the pleasure of reading HoC just to familiarize myself with the fae terms. That or an index or glossary of terms would've been helpful, fae jargon are thrown in the mix casually, the explanation either minimal or came later so this part was kinda way over my head.

HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN is very character driven which is one of this novel's stronger points. The plot is yet to thicken fully, for now the drama is more familial than overarching but I'm pretty sure that will change in the coming books. The conflict-resolution was a bit predictable, once the identities of all the players have been revealed, it was quite easy to figure out the mysteries and motivation behind Olivia's murder and Harlow's personal strife. The pace is pretty even for the most part but it slowed down for me midway towards the end. Also, and this is probably just me, the tone of Crescent City 1 felt more like YA than UF. I can't put my finger on it exactly... it lacked a certain kind of grit and daring one usually finds in UF.

AUGUSTINE ROBELAIS : HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN is told in his and Haven's POV but mostly his which I love because we don't get to read a lot of UF told in the male POV. A brief overview, Augustine is a powerful and unique mix of fae, half smokesinger half shadeux fae (told ya I need a glossary). He has gray skin and horns, quite attractive for a fae, protective of his loved ones and friends, and can be aggressive and hot headed. Augustine has the makings of being a great hero but right now, he comes across as too eager and all muscle for my taste. He doesn't have that quiet, calculating, and imposing command Alphas have but I have no doubt he'll get to that level soon enough. 

HARLOW GOODWIN: The heroine of the story and Olivia Goodwin's (Augustine's foster mother) biological daughter. Harlow is a fae too, some sort of an empath but her talents lie on cyber stuff like hacking and programming. Harlow's relationship with Olivia is strained to say the least and just when she's ready to reconcile with her, Olivia was killed by vampires who are after Augustine. This automatically created tension between Harlow and Augustine not to mention the latter sort of filling Harlow's role in Olivia's life which bred some resentment between the two. They eventually found themselves on the same side but not without some serious words exchanged. There's a love/hate going on between these two and as they're obviously strongly attracted to each other, it's only a matter of time before they become a couple. For now both are playing the game of love and we'll see how it turns out. As a heroine, I didn't connect much with Harlow either. Like with Augustine, I felt her characters to be a little flat. Hopefully that will change in book 2 since they're the ones driving the story at this point. 

WINDUP: HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN is a good start for the spin-off. If only there's some sort of "crutch" that newbies like me can lean to regarding the world-building. Not that it's difficult to understand but it's always best if one has complete understanding of basic myths from the get-go. Still I like the world that KPainter created, it's a perfect mix of the traditional/old world and futuristic and what better place to set this mayhem than in NOLA?! Would I still continue the series? Yes I would because I'm intrigued by Augustine's paternity and his world plus I want to know what's up with the actual House of The Rising Sun and what magic it holds. For now these are enough motivation for me to keep on reading.



Prologue

New Orleans, Louisiana, 2040

Why can’t we take the streetcar?” Walking home from church at night was always a little scary for Augustine, especially when they had to go past the cemetery.
“You know why,” Mama answered. “Because we don’t have money for things like that. Not that your shiftless father would help out. Why I expect anything from that lying, manipulative piece of…” She grunted softly and shook her head.
Augustine had never met his father, but from what Mama had told him, which wasn’t much, his father didn’t seem like a very nice man. Just once, though, Augustine would like to meet him to see what he looked like. Augustine figured he must look like his father, because he sure didn’t look like Mama. Maybe if they met, he’d also ask his father why he never came around. Why he didn’t want to be part of their family. Why Mama cried so much.
With a soft sigh, he held Mama’s hand a little tighter, moving closer to her side. Unlike him, Mama only had five fingers on each hand, not six. She didn’t have gray skin or horns like him, either. She didn’t like his horns much. She kept them filed down so his hair hid the stumps. He jammed his free hand into his jacket pocket, the move jogging him to the side a little.
“Be careful, Augustine. You’re going to make me trip.”
“Sorry, Mama.” The sidewalks were all torn up from the tree roots poking through them. The moon shone through those big trees with their twisty branches and clumps of moss, and cast shadows that looked like creatures reaching toward them. He shivered, almost tripping over one of the roots.
She jerked his arm. “Pay attention.”
“Yes, Mama.” But paying attention was what had scared him in the first place. He tried shutting his eyes, picking his feet up higher to avoid the roots.
Next thing he knew, his foot caught one of those roots and he was on his hands and knees, the skin on his palms burning from where he’d scraped them raw on the rough sidewalk. His knee throbbed with the same pain, but he wouldn’t cry, because he was almost nine and he was a big boy. Old enough to know that he must also control the powers inside him that wanted to come out whenever he felt angry or hurt or excited.
“Oh, Augustine! You ripped your good pants.” Mama grabbed his hand and tugged him to his feet.
“I’m sorry about my pants.” He stood very still, trying not to cause any more trouble. Mama got so angry, so fast. “My knee hurts.”
With a sigh, Mama crouched down, pulled a tissue from her purse, spit on it and began to dab at the blood. “It will be okay. It’s just a little scrape. And you heal… quickly.”
The dabbing hurt worse, but he kept quiet, biting at his cheek. He looked at his hands, opening his twelve fingers wide. Already the scrapes there were fading. It was because of his fae blood, which he wasn’t supposed to talk about. He dropped his hands and stared at the tall cemetery wall next to them. On the other side of that wall were a lot of dead people. In New Orleans, no one could be buried underground because of the water table. He’d learned that in school.
The wind shook the tree above their heads, making the shadows crawl toward them. He inched closer to her and pointed at the cemetery. “Do you think there’s ghosts in there, Mama?”
She stood, ignoring his pointing to brush dirt off his jacket. “Don’t be silly. You know ghosts aren’t real.”
The cemetery gates creaked. She turned, then suddenly put him behind her. Around the side of her dress, Augustine could see a big shape almost on them, smell something sour and sweaty, and hear heavy breathing. Mama reached for Augustine, jerking them both back as the man grabbed for her.
The man missed, but Mama’s heart was going thump,thumpthump. That was another fae thing Augustine wasn’t supposed to talk about, being able to hear extra-quiet sounds like people’s hearts beating.
“C’mere, now,” the man growled. Even in the darkness, Augustine’s sharp fae eyes could see the man’s teeth were icky.
Mama swung her purse at him. “Leave us alone!”
“Us?” The man grunted, his gaze dropping to Augustine. Eyes widening for a second, he snorted. “Your runt’s not going to ruin my fun.”
“I’m not a runt,” Augustine said. Fear made his voice wobble, but he darted out from behind his mother anyway, planting himself in front of her.
The man swatted Augustine away with a meaty hand.
Augustine hit the cemetery wall, cracking his head hard enough to see stars. But with the new pain came anger. And heat. The two mixed together like a storm in his belly, making him want to do… something. He tried to control it, but the man went after Mama next, grabbing her and pushing her to the ground. Then the man climbed on top of her.
She cried out and the swirling inside Augustine became a hurricane dragging him along in its winds. Without really knowing what he was doing, he leaped onto the man’s back. The hard muscle and bone he expected seemed soft and squishy. He grabbed fistfuls of the man’s jacket—but his hands met roots and dirt and shards of concrete instead.
Mama’s eyes blinked up at him, wide and fearful. She seemed a little blurry. Was he crying? And how was he seeing her when he was on the man’s back? And why had everything gone so quiet? Except for a real loud tha-thumptha-thumptha-thump, everything else sounded real far away. He pushed to his knees, expecting them to sting from his fall, but he felt nothing. And the man attacking his mother was somehow… gone.
“Don’t, Augustine.” She shook her head as she scrabbled backward. “Don’t do this.”
“Don’t do what, Mama?” He reached for her but the hand that appeared before him was too big. And only had five fingers. He stuck his other hand out and saw the same thing. “What’s happening to me, Mama?”
“Get out of him, Augustine.” She got to her feet, one trembling hand clutching the crucifix on her necklace. “Let the man go.”
He stood and suddenly he was looking down at his mother. Down. How was he doing that? He glanced at his body. But it wasn’t his body, it was the man’s.
“I don’t understand.” But he had an idea. Was this one of the powers he had? One of the things he was supposed to control? He didn’t know how to get out. Was he trapped? He only wanted to protect his mother, he didn’t want to be this man!
The storm inside him welled up in waves. The heat in his belly was too much. He didn’t understand this new power. He wanted to be himself. He wanted to be out. Panic made bigger waves, hot swells that clogged his throat so he couldn’t take deep breaths. The thumping noise got louder.
The man’s hands reached up to claw at Augustine, at his own skin.
Mama backed away, her fingers in the sign of the cross. He cried out to her for help. He was too hot, too angry, too scared—
A loud, wet pop filled his ears and he fell to his hands and knees again, this time covered in sticky red ooze and smoking hunks of flesh. The thumping noise was gone. Around him was more sticky red, lumps of flesh and pieces of white bone. All he could think about was the time he and Nevil Tremain had stuffed a watermelon full of firecrackers. Except this was way worse. And blowing up the watermelon hadn’t made him feel like throwing up. Or smelled like burnt metal. He sat back, wiped at his face and eyes and tried to find his mother. She was a few feet away, but coming closer.
“You killed that man.” She stood over him looking more angry than afraid now. “You possessed that man like a demon.” She pointed at him. “You’re just like your father, just like that dirty fae-blooded liar.”
Augustine shook his head. “That man was hurting you—”
“Yes, you saved me, but you took his life, Augustine.” She looked around, eyes darting in all directions. “Sturka,” she muttered, a fae curse word Augustine had once gotten slapped for saying.
“I didn’t mean to, I was trying to help—”
“And who’s next? Are you going to help me that way too someday?”
He was crying now, unable to help himself. “No, Mama, no. I would never hurt you.”
She grabbed him by his shirt and yanked him to his feet. “Act human, not like a freak, do you understand? If people could see what you really looked like…” Fear clouded her eyes.
He nodded, sniffling, hating the smell of the blood he was covered in. He didn’t want to be a freak. He really didn’t. “I can act human. I promise.”
She let go of his shirt, her lip slightly curled as she looked him over. “This was your father’s blood that caused this. Not mine.”
“Not yours,” Augustine repeated. Mama looked human but was part smokesinger, something he knew only because he’d overheard an argument she’d had with his father on the phone once. He’d learned other things that way, too. Like that his father was something called shadeux fae. But not just part. All of him. And he’d lied to Mama about that. Used magic to make Mama think he was human. To seduce her.
“I never want to hear or see anything fae ever again or I will put you out of my house. I live as human and while you’re under my roof, so will you. Am I clear?”
The thought of being without her made his chest ache. She was all he had. His world. “Yes, Mama.”
But keeping his fae side hidden was impossible and five years later, put him out is exactly what she did.



A little about me: I’m a former college English teacher, but I've held a crazy mix of other jobs including maitre’d for Wolfgang Puck, personal trainer, and sales for Christian Dior Bijoux. On the writing side of things, I’m a two-time Golden Heart finalist and have been on the board of three different RWA chapters. What can I say? I like getting involved. I’m not adverse to bossing people around either.

I have a *slight* shoe addiction and occasionally indulge in an unnecessary handbag. Hah! That was a joke. There is no such thing as an unnecessary handbag. I love make up and jewelry and spa days. Yes, I’m a girly girl. But don’t think that makes me weak. I can (and do) kill off characters with the best of them. Speaking of which…

My forays into writing have been as varied as the jobs I’ve held. I’ve written poetry, articles for magazines, short stories, paranormal romances (that include fantasy, contemporary and steampunk genres) and now I’ve found a home with urban fantasy. I love worldbuilding and few genres give you the kind of license urban fantasy does.

I’m also the co-founder of the award-winning writer’s site Romancedivas.com. I tweet attwitter.com/Kristen_Painter more often than I should. You can also find me on my Facebook author page here: www.facebook.com/KristenPainterAuthor

I live in FL with my retired Air Force husband and a horde of feline dependents. I’m represented by The Knight Agency.


Stalk Kristen










40 comments:

  1. Thanks for joining the tour my dear! :-) Great Review. I loved Augustine but definitely can't wait to see his badassness showcased a little more. :-)

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    1. Thanks for the invite and for having me :)

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  2. Oh this sounds like one for me... its in the future and has fae and vampires! I love when those elements are combined. Gotta check this one out, great review!

    Teresa @ Readers Live A Thousand Lives

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    1. KPainter books are always a must-check out that's for sure

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  3. where do your ideas for story lines come from?

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    1. Great question! Better tweet her if you want a reply soon. I think she's in RT right now

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  4. New Orleans and vamps in the future sounds fun. I have wanted to check out this author for awhile, and I was thinking of jumping into this new series, but it sounds like it might be better to go back and read the others so I won't be as lost.

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    1. I'm thinking of the same thing. I have book 1 of HoC and I might read that one of these days, help me appreciate this spin-off more.

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  5. You know me and character driven things. I can overlook most things as long as I am feeling the main character and romance

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    1. I suggest you wait for book 2 and binge from there. There's not much of those here for me

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  6. I love when an author has more than one series set in the same world! I have the first book from the first series and can't wait until I can read it one day!

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    1. Same here, like I said I think it'll make much more sense if I read those first before humping into this series.

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  7. Oooh was curious about this one. And dang, she always gets pretty covers! :)

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    1. Right?! The HoC covers are works of art, super gorgeous!

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  8. I haven't read any Kristen Painter books, but their backdrops all sound so fascinating. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  9. Aw man, I think my comment just disappeared into cyberspace. :(

    I didn't know that this was a spinoff of a series I already wanted to read. I really like this cover!

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    1. Thanks for trying again... read it!

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  10. Love this review, love! :D I saw Carmel at Rabid Reads review this one and I think she gave it 3.5 stars? 4? Enough to make my intrigued, at the very least. I love spin offs, too, but do you think I should read the original first before plowing through this one? Would love to hear your insight about this before I dive in! I know you said something about having to have understanding of the mythology first, but of course, there are exemptions to that... just wondering if there's really a need to read the previous books, like it's absolutely imperative.

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

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    1. I don't think I'm the best person to ask as I haven't read HoC but as the worlds are connected, I'm assuming that I'll have an in-depth understanding of some things if I've read HoC first. I think Carmel is the best person to ask at this point.

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  11. Braine, you always have the best reviews! I love books set in New Orleans. I swear that setting does half the work for authors.
    Thanks for the review!

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    1. Oh you flatter me! Thanks!

      And I agree, when it comes to fantasy, a well written and imagined world is half the battle.

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  12. I almost crabbed this because I loved the title. And who could resist fae vs. vampire. I might end up grabbing it now. Thanks for the review.

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    1. And I love her fae, they're not humanoids, they're very... Earthly, elemental.

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  13. I will wait and see how book 2 turns out ;)

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  14. I haven't read any of this author yet. I have some of the House of Commare. So this is spinoff of House of Commare. Ok, good to know :D Sounds interesting :D I like me some Urban Fantasy!

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  15. How do you come up with the titles?

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    1. Great question!

      As for House of the Rising Sun, that's the name of the actual house. I'm curious why the house is so relevant

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  16. Sounds pretty good, Braine. I'll have to make sure I read Ms Painter's House of Commare series first though. Awesome review, girlie!

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  17. Oh, I love the sound of this one! It's been awhile since I read a really good fae book. Great review :)

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    1. Thank you & I hope you were able to check it out!

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  18. this on sounds really good, haven't had much luck with the "fae" books as of late maybe this one will make it better :D

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    1. I hope it meets your expectations!

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  19. Thanks for hosting :) It looks great!!! V""V

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