Title: House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Paranormal, Retelling
Publication date: August 6th, 2019
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.
“We are born to the Salt, we live by the Salt, and to the Salt we return.”
I was so excited to read this book, mostly because I’m a sucker for a good retelling, but also because I haven’t read many books based on the Twelve Dancing Princesses (I’m pretty sure I’ve only come across two), and I adore the stories the authors tend to create, so I went with such high expectations into this one, and overall I have to say I ended up loving House of Salt and Sorrows with all my heart, despite having some minor issues with the story.
Even though this book have some elements from the original story, I was pretty surprised by how unique and different it was from what I first imagined it to be. I adored that macabre atmosphere that was present throughout the entire story, and the role it played within the plot. It was such a fascinating element that I was constantly being kept at the edge of my seat wanting to know what was going to happen. There were a lot of twists and turns, and sometimes you didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t, and the descriptions were so creepy and eerie that I have to admit, they sometimes scared the crap out of me. I don’t tend to read often stories about ghosts because I’m a chicken, so I might be exaggerating a little bit, but to me, they were pretty scary.
The plot was so interesting to follow. Though there came a part during the middle where I notice it was a bit slow and not much was happening, the rest of it was so fast paced and easy to get into that I finished it in two sittings. Since it had some mystery going on, I found that that made me want to keep with my pace to see how everything would end up like.
“Flushed with starlight and moonlight drowned,
All the dreamers are castle-bound.
At midnight stroke, we will unwind,
Revealing fantasies soft or unkind.
Show me debauched nightmares or sunniest daydreams.
Come not as you are but as you wish to be seen.”
When it comes to the characters, I would say there was quite a variety of personalities in the sisters, which I deeply appreciated. I loved the sisterhood and how much Annaleigh cared for the rest of the girls, and basically how they tried to protect each other, but at the same time I found quite realistic the way those relationships were written. You had some sisters that were closer to each others, and other times you saw little fights between them that made them appear more flawed and real to the reader. I really enjoyed their development throughout the book, and the dynamics between all of them.
There was some romance going on in this book as well, and though I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first, after finishing House of Salt and Sorrows given it much thought, I came to the conclusion that I liked it. Since this book was based on a fairytale, it had that whimsical element that made me look past that insta love-y romance. Still, if we forget about that, I think that the relationship between Annaleigh and her love interest was so beautiful, especially the epilogue.
I would say though, there were some revelations made towards the end that I found a bit predictable, along with other things. My issue with the story was that since it was a standalone, the world building and magic system weren’t really that complex. I loved that world, and I just wished we’d known more about the magic and the different places, but I can understand that it was more focused on the characters and the plot, so it wasn’t that bothersome to me.
Overall, I adored House of Salt and Sorrows, and found that the author created such an interesting and unique retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, so in the future I for sure will be checking out more of her work, because her debut totally blew my mind.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own.
“Had we made somehow angered the gods? Had a darkness branded itself on our family, taking us out one by one? Or was it simply a series of terrible and unlucky coincidences?”
TW: death, miscarriage
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