I've not written about the Percy Jackson books since my initial review of the series. However since then I've reread most of it, and of course dived into the sequel series. For the most part I like the sequel series better. I think it's more interesting, with more depth, and c'mon, the books are awesomely large! It's also been fun to get to know some more diverse characters in the demigod ranks, particularily Leo, Hazel and Frank. Piper and Jason are kind of awesome too, although their characters are still being fleshed out.
Character fleshing out is actually one of the biggest strengths of "House of Hades." Every single character has their 'big moment' of testing and trials that reveals new truths about them and helps them (literally, in one case) grow. Frank and Hazel especially reveal that they are forces to be reckoned with.
I remain in awe of Riorden's ability to include new Greek (and now Roman) myths in each installment. I can't imagine the time he must spend researching in addition to all that writing. Every inclusion so far has fit the story's needs perfectly. I was glad to see the return of Calypso, and surprised and delighted by the return of Titan Bob, a character almost forgotten but now back with a purpose.
But the best part is the humor woven expertly even through the darkest of times. It's never quite so over the top that you can't believe it. The cast of characters know the truth that there is nothing more powerful for defeating the darkness than laughter and love, and they use both weapons with gusto. Evil takes itself too seriously, but we grow stronger when we can see our own weaknesses and laugh at them while playing to our strengths.
Speaking of Love, the love god, Cupid, finally makes an appearance in a scene that is probably the most divisive in the fandom yet, as Nico di Angelo reveals his hidden love for Percy. I was a little surprised, but not shocked. We're in the realm of greek gods, after all, and their exploits contain quite a bit of this sort of thing. Not to mention that the whole series revolves around illegitimate children. Conservative families will perhaps be less than happy with this inclusion, but I do feel that it is keeping in line with the themes of Greek mythology expressed so far, and that Nico's suffering and chastity display the situation as Christian morality dictates... so it's actually one of those places where you find a good discussion starter. The sequel series has definitely been darker in tone and directed towards an older audience than the original books.
I wouldn't quite give this book five stars, but it comes close, doing just as well as the previous two books in telling a good tale and balancing (just barely!) the large cast of characters and introducing more and more levels of Greek mythology along the way.