I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Published by Delacorte Press on 2019-08-06
Length: 406 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2021, COYER 2021
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. Be careful who you dance with...
Deliciously dark and creepy fantasy, perfect for the spooky season! House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig swept me away to a castle on a secluded island where the daughters of a ruler are dying one by one. From the first page to the last, I found myself taken by the story, the characters, and the curse that haunts them. Told entirely from Annaleigh’s perspective, the story unfolds as she begins to suspect that her sister’s deaths are not the accidents they appear to be. Someone or something is haunting the Thaumas sisters, and Annaleigh is determined to solve the case.
What I Loved
- I adored Annaleigh and her sisters. The family dynamic after losing the four eldest sisters has shifted. The girls are all trying to find where they fit in their new roles as oldest. Every girl that remains is unique, not once did I find myself confused about which sister did what in the story. I loved the triplets and the Graces (the three youngest sisters). They completely stole my heart, and that may have been because we are inside Annaleigh’s head, seeing them and feeling what she is feeling.
- The mystery surrounding the family and the supposed curse made for a fast-paced read. I did not want to sit it down. It’s engaging and really makes you think and scrutinize the details. When I wasn’t actively reading the story, I was thinking about it, hashing out the details with Stephanie and Berls who I buddy read this with. Many predictions were made by all of us, and honestly none of us were right. The unpredictability of the mystery added to my enjoyment.
- This story is mostly psychological thriller, more than horror. Annaleigh is an unreliable narrator in that you never know if what she is seeing and reporting are actually happening. It adds to the tension of the story, letting your mind wander about what is happening, who is behind it, and can it be stopped. I personally loved this element!
- The setting of the story on an island nation is fantastic. They are an extension of the mainland, yet isolated and have their own customs. It’s reminiscent of late 1800s or early 1900s Greecian. There are gods and goddesses roaming the lands but also gas lamps and indoor plumbing. It’s an interesting world, one I’d love to revisit in additional stories if the author chose to write them.
What Left Me Wanting
Not much, honestly. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. My only complaint (if it can be called that) is the amount of gore which served as the horror aspect of the story. At times, it felt appropriate, especially when Annaleigh is seeing what she believes are ghosts, but at others it was there for the “shock and awe” factor. Despite that, it works well with the story and overall mystery that Annaleigh is chasing.
Overall, I really liked House of Salt and Sorrows. The mystery, the madness, the gore, all of it makes for a dark fantasy tale that is unputdownable. Deliciously dark and only mildly horrific, House of Salt and Sorrows will leave readers pondering the details long after they hit the end. I highly recommend it for fantasy readers who enjoy a thrill and mystery.
This book fulfills #8 on the COYER 2021 Fall Scavenger Hunt as the YA October book club pick.