Review: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter


I saw the cover for this book all over the place, back in May when it was released, and being set in New Orleans I was definitely interested, but going through a post-amazing-series funk and could not get into anything new. Fast forward to August, I'd just read the next installments in three of my favorite series (including the one that wrecked me in the Spring!) as well as a great erotic-romance, and I was finally ready for this book. 

Did the book live up to the gorgeous cover? Did the author's story do NOLA justice? Does she have a new fan, or am I sorry I bothered? Click through to find out what I thought of House of the Rising Sun. Spoiler free. I'm getting better and not giving the good stuff away.

Let me start with the bottom line: I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which checked every single box for U/F books--fascinating world, riveting problems, super sexy yet damaged hero, annoying heroine who has a wake up call coming but you can see her potential, NOLA as a character, great side characters and a world I've not read before. I flew through this sucker, was thinking about it when I was doing other things, and could not wait to get back to it. All signs that a book has pulled me right in.

House of the Rising Sun has vampires, witches, shifters, and humans, but the focus is firmly on the recently "out-of-the-closet" fae. I'm still working my way through the urban fantasy genre, so I'm no expert by any means, but this is the first fae-focused series I've read and the complex world Ms. Painter has created drew me right in. There are many "bloodlines" of fae with different gifts and characteristics, but I never felt overwhelmed by the various descriptions, instead feeling, much like Harlow, that I was learning slowly about my new world. 

In so many ways...
Augustine is our male protagonist, and he is already every single thing that I love in my heroes. I told you about my love of anti-heroes (here). Augie is damaged yet noble, super sexy and aware of it yet not arrogant, a fierce fighter yet a protector of those he loves, including all of the residents of his beloved city. He has a rocky past, complete with a despicable mother and years of doing whatever it took to survive. But he also has years of love and kindness from a surrogate mother and an aunt-figure to keep him from all-consuming bitterness. The culmination of Augie's life experiences have created a strong, fierce protector who loves deeply and holds those he loves dear, while anyone harming those he loves should look the fuck out. I am VERY excited to follow Augustine wherever Crescent City takes him.

Harlow is pretty awful. Room for growth!
Now, our female protagonist is just plain not at all likeable in the first half of the book. I'm certain that's intentional, though, because she has suppressed her abilities for years, denying who she is. Harlow clearly struggles with a cocktail of social phobias and general awkwardness, exacerbated by years of avoiding people. That said, she's pretty awful for a while, which is kind of painful to watch. I honestly didn't mind though because I could see her pain and fear, too, and I felt very strongly that she was going to get to a better place, that we are going to see tremendous growth from this one. She came a long way in this book, although she's not there yet, her actions and choices near the end indicative of where she's heading. I'm excited for her new, not-self-absorbed life!

New Orleans. My favorite supporting character.
The supporting characters in House of the Rising Sun are fabulous, giving us a wonderfully filled out world. From the lovely and charming Southern dames, Olivia and Lally, to the surprising bureaucrat, Fenton, to Augie's delightfully twisted BFF, Dulcinea, to the truly nasty antagonist, and the various good and bad guys in between, there are plenty of interesting characters to love, hate, and something in-between. Unsurprisingly, my favorite supporting character is New Orleans. She is grand and storied and rough around the edges, and little bit dirty, exactly how I love her, exactly why she is firmly in my heart. Kristen Painter does NOLA justice in House of the Rising Sun, and what a perfect setting for this rich world. 

I almost forgot to mention the sexual tension. Ah, exquisite sexual tension. It's almost a character in itself, and it's going to be a delicious journey to that particular resolution!

From the prologue I was hooked on this book, devouring it as quickly as possible, only to have to wait impatiently three-and-a-half months for the next one. Is it December yet? It was a terrific read from the first page to the last, a book that I would highly recommend.

Wench Rating:

**All GIFs from
**NOLA photo courtesy of Barbara Bones


  1. I just started this too. The only fae-focused books I've read are KMM's Fever series. How does this compare to that world?

    1. The biggest difference is that fae are much more human-like, not alien. And they are the protagonists in this world, not destroyers of worlds.


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