08 October, 2019

[Review] House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

House of Salt and Sorrows
Cover image from the goodreads website.

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: 6 August, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte/Listening Library
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Dark Fantasy/Fairytale Retellings
Edition: Audiobook (also available in Kindle, Hardback, and Paperback)
Rating: ★★★★
Review Written: 23 September, 2019
Warnings: Death, gore
In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
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.

See more by Erin A. Craig at her Website. Spoilers below the cut.

The story of the House of Salt and Sorrows will resonate with fans of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (originally published as the Die Zwölf Tanzenden Prinzessinnen by the Brothers Grimm). Twelve sisters once lived in a house by the sea, but as the story opens we're left with eight remaining daughters.

Annaleigh of Highmoor has grown accustom to mourning, she's been forced to restart the process five times in the last five years. Mourning in the islands requires a year, and the family traditionally is not allowed out of their home for the period. Thus, with the death of her sister Eulalie, Annaleigh expects to restart the year of mourning once more and setting herself and her remaining sisters, one more year away from being able to find a good match. That is until her new stepmother throws a wrench into the entire mourning process by announcing her pregnancy at the funeral reception. Can we say, Yikes?

Pacing was a slight issue in the novel, with weeks skipping throughout the book with page turns. There were parts that were almost too slow at times, though I still enjoyed the intrigue and mystery. Was Annaleigh becoming a mad from her pent-up grief? Was Eulalie murdered? Was Charity seeing the ghosts of her dead elder sisters? All these twists were lovely. Unfortunately I did feel the romance was a bit much, and though I was sad at the idea of Cassius dying, it would have been a noble end.

Instead he returns at the very end of the book, having been spirited away by his goddess mother (apparently the gods and goddesses were real people who interacted with the general populous, that would be an interesting story to read) to be healed. Overall, I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue built by Erin Craig's writing, the world was intriguing and the haunting image of the girls dancing in their own rooms while believing they were at an actual ball was both spooky and thrilling.

Best for those over the age of 13, due to the amount of graphic description of deaths in this book.

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