“My sister’s death had not been an accident. It had not been part of some dark curse. She was murdered. And I was going to prove it.”
Synopsis/Book Blurb (Goodreads)
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.
Author: Erin A. Craig
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release date: August 5, 2019
Source: Library (eBook)
Time to complete: Finished in 2 days. (All-nighter)
First Person Point of View. The story is told through Annaleigh’s perspective. We don’t get an insight to what the other characters are doing or thinking about except through their interactions with her.
Mostly takes place in the Salann Islands. Highmoor.
It begins with a funeral service being held for Eulyle, the Duke’s daughter and heiress. Out of the twelve sisters, only eight remain. Annaleigh is not convinced that her sister’s death was accidental and begins to look into it, suspecting something darker and sinister afoot.
Themes: The Sea. Fishing. Superstition. Lore. Gods. Unrequited love. Tragedy and loss. Horror. Psychological Horror. Romance
Folklore. The people of the Salt have their customs and traditions and they are very different from those that live on the mainland. There are five islands in total and it was interesting to read about all the detail placed in each of the islands. We also get a taste of the Gods they serve and worship and while some islands place importance on multiple Gods, Annaleigh and her family are only devoted to Pontus, God of the Sea. There’s great detail placed in the sea, captains, mariners and fishing season.
Traditions. Along with the lore of the book, I found myself enjoying the traditions they celebrated such as the first night of the churning and its meaning behind it.
Gender equality. I found it refreshing that the people of the Salt believed the eldest child inherits the estate as opposed to the first-born son. As pointed out by several characters, only the Islanders of Salann seem to hold this belief.
Turns and twists. The book started with great potential, losing me at the part where the balls and frilly dresses come into play. The magic door. The charming dancing partners. . . but I had a hunch I should keep persisting, pushing forward and I’m so glad I did. Within the next chapters, the story did a 360 degree turn and left me pleasantly shocked.
Frustration. No one believes Annaleigh even when the proof is so evidently presented and you start to feel some of the character’s frustration as you read ahead. Even for the frustration and disbelief, there’s a perfect explanation and one I wasn’t expecting.
Romance. From flirting to messy, elaborate dinners to unexpected encounters. Despite some of those cheering for the childhood friend, I’m glad Annaleigh took the decisions she took in the end (and if you read the book, you’ll agree with me.) Her romance story was tender at times, cheesy at best but she had great support from her partner. As much as I want to entertain the thought that Annaleigh would have been able to pull herself together in a storm of tragedies, this isn’t true. She was intelligent and sharp but without some supernatural intervention, she would have certainly returned to the Salt. The Duke and his lady’s relationship were a flawed romance story that I was able to appreciate later on when things are finally pieced together, once the sugary layers dissolved to reveal what was underneath.
Character growth. My heart goes out to Morella and while she was no saint, she was still young, inexperienced and disillusioned and in the end, received a taste of her own medicine. While her final actions do not redeem her wrongs, she took the correct course of action. I do not care much for the Duke and while he was a father first, his actions in the first night of the churning as well as later on, left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. There’s no doubt that he tried to be an excellent father and loved his daughters unconditionally. Some of the sisters were easily forgettable and I ended up recalling the dead more vividly than those that were alive.
Horror. I had read that this was a horror book but you really don’t see it at first. Once you do see it, you can’t miss it. The scenes were presented vividly and detailed and it was impossible not to conjure a mental picture. It probably didn’t help that I was reading past 3AM.
The ending. The ending was satisfying, not rushed at all. All plot holes were resolved but… it left me craving something.
All in all, a positive reading experience. I rate this book as positive as I enjoyed it immensely and for those that like to rate things based on stars: 4/5.
“It shouldn’t matter what your parents did, just what you do as a person.” Annaleigh
“It was a foolish rumor, but rumors had a way of morphing into something big and ugly.” — House of Salt and Sorrows
I first read about this book in a past Owlcrate box I intended to purchase but couldn’t get to in time. Then, I held a poll in Instagram based on two books I wanted to read: The Wicked Deep or House of Salt and Sorrows. The latter won out and I am glad it did. Is this book in your TBR or have you read any books by this author?
Thank you so much for reading!