Title: House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
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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.
This was a book that got so much hype and early buzz last fall and I was so excited to get to it. This was pitched as atmospheric, creepy, and the new “it” YA book. So, did it live up to the hype?
I’m not going to lie, review this book is so hard because I absolutely adored the atmosphere and lore woven into this world, but I was so disappointed in the ending. To fully get into my thoughts, I will have to go into spoilers, but I’ll stick them in a spoiler corner.
Okay, let’s start with the positives.
This book was just dripping with atmosphere. Craig created the eery drowned world that was like a love child of House Greyjoy and a twisted Lovecraftian world.
The overall mystery was gripping as well. As a reader, you’re thrust into the mystery of Annaleigh’s sisters dying off, resulting the family being in an usually long morning period and the villagers believing Annaleigh’s family is cursed. After talking with a villager who had an unexpected connection to one of her sisters, Annaleigh believes that her sisters were murdered. When no one believes her, Annaleigh takes it upon herself to solve this mystery.
As this is going on, the sisters also begin sneaking out to mysterious parties thrown at night and spends the time dancing the night away (and ruining shoes at an alarming rate).
Overall this was a solid retelling of the twelve dancing princesses with a compelling mystery. There was a bit of a love triangle in here, but ultimately it was pretty forgettable. I’m writing this review about a month after reading the book and I honestly don’t remember anything about the love interest (though that may due to me reading this around the time all hell broke loose).
Though, like I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the ending really killed this one for me.
Okay, so the whole book was leading up to what was going on with the family. Was there a curse or no? And sadly the answer was yes there was a curse, yes it had to do with the mythology described in this world. But it came down to a deal with a deity backfiring. While I don’t necessarily hate this concept, I was just ultimately let down. There was a lot of build up and overall the payoff didn’t satisfy me.
Overall, this is a pretty polarizing book. It’s one you’re either going to love or hate. I would still recommend this one as there were some pretty strong attributes to it, especially in the first half. That being said, the ending is what’s going to split readers. I’ve seen a ton of praise for this one and a ton of hate.