Book Review: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter

Posted February 9, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 10 Comments

Book Review: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Orbit on May 13, 2014
Pages: 403
Format: Paperback
Source: the library


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.

Also by this author: City of Eternal Night, Garden of Dreams and Desires, Book Review: Miss Frost Solves a Cold Case, All Fired Up, "Prologue to The Vampire's Mail Order Bride", The Vampire's Mail Order Bride, The Werewolf Meets His Match, The Gargoyle Gets His Girl, The Professor Woos the Witch, The Vampire's Fake Fiancée, The Shifter Romances the Writer, "The Witch's Halloween Hero", The Dragon Finds Forever, The Vampire's Accidental Wife, The Reaper Rescues the Genie, The Detective Wins The Witch, The Vampire's Priceless Treasure, The Werewolf Dates the Deputy, "When Birdie Babysat Spider", Miss Frost Ices the Imp, Miss Frost Saves the Sandman, Miss Frost Cracks a Caper, "The Werewolf's Christmas Wish", The Vampire's Cursed Kiss

First in the Crescent City urban fantasy series, which is a spin-off from the House of Comarré series, and revolving around Augustine. It starts in 2040 before fast forwarding to 2068. Based in New Orleans with a couple focus on Augustine Robelais and Harlow Goodwin.

My Take

An intriguing start to this spin-off series that is set in the same House of Comarré world but moved to New Orleans with a whole new set of problems. This time it’s fae versus witch with negative help from vampires, and romantic New Orleans is a popular setting for supernatural tales. I can picture Bourbon Street and the Quarter and a gray-skinned fae would fit right in, lol.

It’s primary character was a minor one in the House of Commaré, and yet, Augustine appears to be a major power here. I must confess I didn’t see him that way when we were first introduced — Painter, um, painted him as more of a juvenile delinquent who does as he pleases — and I still don’t see him as a terrifying alpha. Yeah, I know that Painter is, ahem, telling us that he is, but I’ve read nothing that feels that way.

I’m willing to suspend my skepticism because I like Augustine. He’s had a hard start in life, and I love how he’s improved himself (with Olivia’s help). And he is, at least, very appreciative without being a suck-up or condescending or losing his sense of self. The three of them made a very natural family you can’t help but love.

Painter has also inserted some nice conflict. Well, okay, it’s not nice, but it is dramatic enough to make me sit up and want to read more, lol. I want to see that bitch Giselle get hers! And I’m curious about meeting Zara. I think I’d like her.

There’s a prologue that begins in 2040 and provides background on Augustine’s childhood. And I want to know why parents take out their anger on an innocent child?

I think Olivia did her daughter a disfavor in not telling her about her father. A.) She’s entitled to know. B.) She’s be better able to protect herself against him. Most importantly, C.) she’d have her daughter there.

That said, I don’t like Harlow. She’s such a whiny, childish bitch. She owes the feds $850k or it’s two years in prison. Ahem. She figures after ignoring her mother for years, she can show up on her doorstep and ask for the money? She can bargain for it?? She should get down on her knees and promise anything. $850,000??? And she doesn’t reckon she owes her mother some common courtesies? I say again, selfish bitch. I think Olivia has a good point about those two years. On the other hand, I do like that Harlow doesn’t bend over for her father. Pushy bastard.

I love that Augustine calls Hugh on his insistence that Augie play stooge! I also love that he steps right up for his rights and his duties. He’s honest with Evander about his lack of diplomacy, and it’s a subtle reminder that getting things done is more important than stepping through the dance. Then there’s the second punch pointing out the truth of the treaty! Ooh, boy.

Her father’s got a nerve, claiming that Augustine is sucking up to Harlow to get the house. I do wonder how long Harlow would live if she did get Augustine’s half of the house.

Augie should know better than to reveal any weaknesses.

The Story

It’s a tentative return for Augustine. He’s in trouble with the Elektos for taking Chrysabelle (see the House of Comarré series) to the fae plane and into the Claustrom. But he can’t stay away from Olivia or New Orleans. He has good reason, for the Elektos has a nasty “punishment” in store for him. One for which Augustine seems uniquely qualified.

Harlow hates her mother, but she needs her money. She owes the feds way too much. She’ll never be able to pay, and she doesn’t want to go to jail.

Then the vampires make a mistake. A big one. They take down someone Augustine loves, and he will go after them with a vengeance.

The Characters

In 2068
Augustine Robelais, part shadeux fae, part smokesinger, part human, is practically Olivia’s son; he’s lived in her house for 20 years. And has never met Harlow. Dulcinea is an old and good friend of Augustine’s. She’s an odd sort of fae, a remnant: part fae, part varcolai, who reads tarot cards on Bourbon Street.

Olivia “Livie” Goodwin is a retired and famous actress. She’s also a haerbinger fae who took Augustine in when he had been thrust out onto the streets at almost 14 by his mother. Eulalie “Lally” Hughes is Olivia’s human housekeeper and best friend. Lionel Cuthridge is Olivia’s attorney and works for the trust.

Harlow Goodwin, Livie’s daughter, is a computer hacker with an unwelcome gift of psychometry and a very welcome gift of being able to read computers, And she got caught.

Joseph Branzino is Harlow’s father and a raptor fae. There are two living brothers: Michael is a hands-on guy and Teddy works in the office.

The Elektos are…
…the final authority on supernatural matters. Fenton Welch is a cypher fae working for the Elektos. Guz and Rat work for Fenton. Hugh Loudreux, a cypher fae, is the Prime, the head of the Elektos. And he hates Augie. Blu is Augustine’s half-sister and works as a personal bodyguard for Loudreaux. Other Elektos include Salander Meer, a saboteur fae, and Yanna Quinn, an ignus fae, and both are pro-Augie.

The Guardian and crew
The Pelcrum in the Lafayette Cemetery is their headquarters. Khell, a wysper fae, is the new Guardian of New Orleans. Beatrice, an ignus fae, is Khell’s widow. Augustine wants her as one of his new lieutenants. The only ones of the seven lieutenants under Khell whom Fenton believes are loyal are Dreich, Khell’s cousin; Sydra, half dryad, half saboteur; and, Cylo, ethos fae. Other lieutenants include Petrick Hayden.

Dell is a fae who seems to be working on the wrong side. Renny Doucette is a gator varcolai and the most infamous bartender at Belle’s. He’d like to get back together with Dulcinea.

The witches
Giselle Vincent is a bad witch; she’s angling to take down her father as well as the fae. It was her great-great-grandmother, Aurela La Voisin, who put the original curse on the city. Her father, Evander, is a fourth-level wizard and the leader of the New Orlean’s coven leader and High Wizard. I think Cormier is a butler for Evander. Zara, a green witch, is Giselle’s sister and the complete opposite of her. She works with herbs and creates potions and tinctures.

Charles Andrulis is one of Giselle’s clients, a judge.

The vampires
Vampires may be drawn to New Orleans, but once they leave they forget the city. Jenny is part of the trap. YB stands for the Young Bloods vampire gang, and Scarface is their leader.

Father Ogun is a voodoo practitioner.

The weavers
Nekai is the best weaver for home protection. Shavara was the most powerful weaver ever born and the one to ease the curse on the city.

New Orleans PD
Detective J.J. “One-Punch” Grantham.

Chrysabelle and Mal are married with a baby, Rafe. Mortalis is Augustine’s half-brother and the reason Augie is in so much trouble with the Elektos. He’s married to Nyssa who is pregnant.

The Santiago sisters are a nice welcome home. Ginger is another pickup.

In 2040
Mama, Augustine’s nasty mother, Magdalena, is with the Ursulines and typifies the kind of woman who should have been drowned at her own birth. She bitches no matter which direction Augie turns. She is part smokesinger; Augustine’s father is shadeux fae.

Varcolai are shifters. Raptor fae feed off emotions which makes them good listeners and they read metal.

Nokturnos is the fae New Year. This year’s is the first one the fae can celebrate publicly. The Claustrum is a fae prison for those too destructive and too criminal to be let loose on the mortal plane. I think an LMD is a supercharged smartphone.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a bit cartoonish with its anime-looking Harlow, tense, ready to spring forward with her flowing red-violet hair fluttering in the breeze, her yellow eyes, and cutaway, very low-neck halter vest with the ornate cross dangling almost to her cleavage, as she stands against that terrace railing with the night-lit buildings of New Orleans in the background.

The title is a reference to an Animals’ song about New Orleans and the House of the Rising Sun. I think it’s a metaphor for both Olivia’s house which brings Augustine and Harlow together as a new family with their own house and a new glow for the city.

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10 responses to “Book Review: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter

  1. I enjoyed this book. I love Augustine, and yes, I agree with you that he isn’t the alpha male that we are used to in UF. I still love him though. Harlow is a bitch, but you do see some improvement at the end of the book (and without any spoilers, there is also some improvement in the next book, but she still has issues). Dulcinea and Lally are two of my favorite characters. Great review.

    • He is such a sweetie and so thoughtful! Yeah, I love Dulcinea and Lally too. Dulcinea is such a rebel-type but sweet, while Lally. Well, she’s just plain sweet and caring and…you can truly understand why (and envy) the relationship she had with Olivia all those years. Thanks for your comments!

    • I’d suggest reading her House of Comarré series first as events and characters in that do influence or have a bearing on what happens in this. It is, however, not an essential. And you’re welcome *grin*.

  2. I JUST finished this book today and it sounds like we had similar impressions. I know that I did NOT like Harlow! There’s things about her I think I could grow to like as the series progresses, but her whiny, bitchy attitude about her father and audacity to come to her mother for money and then still be upset about her mom about her dad after her mother was dead was just annoying and I wanted to slap her. Even if Olivia was wrong and what she did made no sense, still, I did not like Harlow LOL. Great review!

    • Oh, good, er, I mean, um… Oh, heck, it’s reassuring to get validation. Sometimes I worry that I’m being too picky. Or that I got up the wrong side the bed *eye roll* I’m being hopeful as well, Berls, that “Harley” becomes less whiny *fingers crossed* I kept wanting to smack her upside the head. It still infuriates me that she has so little money herself, that she’s shunned her mother for so many years, and then shows up demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars. And doesn’t expect to have to be grateful for it! “Oh, I can’t be bothered to stick around for one meal…” Puh-lease. If I’d been her mother, I’d’a escorted her to the jail. TWO years? That’s all?? Might’a slapped that lousy attitude out of her. Sorry, getting carried away with how much Harlow irritates me…sigh…

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