Book Review: House of Salt and Sorrows

If you are looking for an imaginative, eerie young adult fantasy for your teen, tween, (or yourself), I’ll highly recommend Erin Craig’s House of Salt and Sorrows. My thirteen-year-old and I both read this at the same time on vacation and it kept us glued to our e-readers! Thanks to NetGalley for providing me said e-ARC for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them

Book Review: House of Salt and SorrowsHouse of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Published by Random House Children's Books on August 6, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Adaptations, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Pages: 416
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Buy from your local independent bookstore via IndieBound
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Get swept away in Erin A. Craig's mesmerizing House of Salt and Sorrows. As one by one her beautiful sisters mysteriously die on their isolated island estate, Annaleigh must unravel the curse that haunts her family. Be careful who you dance with. . . .

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor with her sisters and their father and stepmother. Once there 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 her sister's deaths were no accidents. The girls 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. House of Salt and Sorrows is a spellbinding novel filled with magic and the rustle of gossamer skirts down long, dark hallways. Get ready to be swept away.

four-half-stars

House of Salt and Sorrows is a gorgeous retelling of the fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Sisters. It has a haunting gothic feel. I am a sucker for WELL DONE retellings, and this is truly unique and spooky and lush. I loved it so much and yet I’m having a difficult time putting it into words. (Forgive me if I sound like I’m gushing!)

Craig has crafted a twisty, creative tale of family (and secrets), monsters, myth, and magic. Her setting and descriptions are so vivid that I could practically see the story unfold in front of me. (It was all told in deep sea blues and greens and blacks in my mind). Her prose was gorgeous and flowing.

Annaleigh lives in a large manor with her father, stepmother, and many remaining sisters. (Because her older ones have all died mysteriously and accidentally.) Everyone believes her family is cursed. But – when another sister dies, she doesn’t believe it was an accident and begins to search for what really happened.

And that is when things get really weird. And creepy. She does an amazing job of building tension in some of the darker parts of the plot. The twists just keep coming and coming, and when I think I have a clue as to what is going on, Craig completely pulls the rug out from under my feet. My 13-year-old read this as well. I enjoyed watching her look up from the book with a wide-eyed look of confusion that said: “I thought I knew what was going on but WHAT IS GOING ON”. (I know that’s what the look meant because I also HEARD that frequently as she made her way through the book.)

The characterization at times felt a bit unsteady – Annaleigh flopped between very suspicious to overly trusting; her father seemed very dependable until the party, and then his personality completely changed. (Do I blame it on his drinking?) Additionally, with several of the sisters, I felt I knew little about, possibly as they were referred to as “The Graces” more than their actual names.

I was a little confused and frustrated when Annaleigh’s focus turned from her hunt to discover what really happened to Eulalie to going to parties every night. In the end, it added to the chaos and mystery and creepiness of what was happening. And even when I thought I had it figured out Craig had one more big twist to throw at me.

The book is also categorized under “horror”, and a few reviewers remarked that “it gave them nightmares”. While my daughter and I both enjoyed the dark, creepy atmosphere, neither of us felt it was “read with the lights on” level of creepy. I believe that even if you have a skittish YA reader, they would be fine with this novel.

Overall, House of Salt and Sorrows was a big WOW for me.

House of Salt and Sorrows

Did this pique your interest? You can grab a copy of House of Salt and Sorrows at Amazon or find a copy at your nearest Indie bookstore!

If this book interests you, you may also like:

bear and nightingale

four-half-stars

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