House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Hauntingly atmospheric and heartbreaking, House of Salt and Sorrows is an incredible fantasy debut that is sure to sweep you away.

About the Book

Publisher: Delacorte Books  |  Release Date: August 6, 2019  |  Pages: 416
Genre: YA, Fantasy  |  Format: eARC  |  Source: Publisher via Netgalley

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.

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My Review

Narrative style: first person | Perspective(s): single

I loved House of Salt and SorrowsI’ve been trying to find the words necessary to write this review for almost two weeks, but words cannot express how much I loved House of Salt and Sorrows. This debut Gothic fantasy is masterfully crafted, hauntingly atmospheric, and full of magic and love. I devoured my eARC in one sitting and stayed up until 4am to finish reading it. I will be instantly buying any of Craig’s future books.

Craig’s writing is captivatingly descriptive without over burdening itself. Her descriptions are so vivid that I truly felt like I was watching a movie in my head while reading. The mood and Gothic atmosphere creep into her word choices, sweeping me away. Also: I want a pair (or twelve) of those fairy shoes.

“We are born of the Salt, we live by the Salt, and to the Salt we return.”

I was swept away immediately by this retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Brothers Grimm. The worldbuilding is masterful. The book begins with a funeral, and three pages in I was fully immersed into the world that Craig crafted. You get a true sense of the beliefs and history of the characters without it ever feeling like an info-dump.

“Sickly-sweet incense still danced through the room but couldn’t quite block out the tang of salt. No matter where you were on the island, you could always taste the sea.”

The home feels so lived in and full of love despite all the heartbreak and loss the family’s endured. If you enjoy stories centered on sibling relationships, you will love House of Salt and Sorrows. The sisters and their relationship with one another gave me Little Women vibes in the best of ways. Their love for one another shines on the page, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t poke fun at one another or get annoyed.

“At least we’ll always have each other. Sisters and friends till the end. Promise me.”

There are a lot of characters but each of them feel distinct and as real as you or I. I felt strongly connected to Annaleigh and her sisters: Camille’s responsibility as heir and desire to find a partner, the Grace’s excitement for their debut and the next chapter in their lives, Verity’s childlike wonder. I found myself loving them completely and anxious about their well-being while reading.

“The euphoria was tangible: I could taste it in the air, the sweetness coating my mouth and going straight to my head like champagne.”

I found the book to be equally driven by the characters and plot. I was simply mesmerized by the story and interested in what would happen next, but I was equally invested in the well-being of the characters. I found the pacing and build perfect, but it does take some time for the story to get to the nightly dancing. I was so invested in the characters and world that honestly, I would have read just a boring Day in the Life narrative and found it interesting.

“Flushed with starlight and moonlight drowned,
All the dreamers are castle-bound.
At midnight’s stroke, we will unwind,
Revealing fantasies soft or unkind.
Show me debauched nightmare or sunniest daydreams.
Come not as you are but as you wish to be seen.”

There are layers of complexity to the story: love and heartache for those they’ve lost, a desire to move on, the town’s fear of the curse, the nightly balls the girls attend. The tension (and sorrow) is absolutely palpable as the mystery unfolds, and honestly, it gets quite creepy! I was so immersed in the story and there are some truly nightmare fueling moments. If you aren’t a fan of hauntingly spooky stories, you might struggle a bit with some of the tale. I live for horror and creepy vibes, and was pleased with the number of ‘NOPE’ annotations that my eARC received from me while reading!

There is so much that I loved about this book, and I am sure that it will make my top reads of the year post. Stephanie Garber blurbed House of Salt and Sorrows saying “Step inside a fairy tale,” and that is the perfect description. In a way, the story bends genres because it fits both the Gothic fantasy and mystery bill, with a generous dose of magical realism. If you are a fan of atmospheric and magical fantasy driven by the characters (and sisterly love), I cannot recommend this book enough. Please, read it unless the idea of being a little scared doesn’t bring you joy.

CONTENT WARNINGS: death, hallucinations, loss of a loved one, suicide
REPRESENTATION: none

Many thanks to Delacorte Press for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Quotations are from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon final publication.

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

38 Comments

  1. Kayla @ Books and Blends

    August 22, 2019 at 10:47 AM

    Wonderful review Kaleena! I bought this book recently and can’t wait to read it. Your review just make me even more excited!

    1. Susan

      August 22, 2019 at 11:26 AM

      I’ve read two reviews of this book today. Both praised it highly. Both using words like gothic, dark and atmospheric. I have to say I really feel like I completely missed out with this one. I didn’t expect it to be my kind of book but you completely confirmed them first review and went into even more detail. Great review. Thank you!

      1. Kal

        August 25, 2019 at 11:28 AM

        This book was so damn magical for me to read, I really enjoyed it and I am glad my review affirmed your desire to read it. I hope you are swept away by it as much as I was!

        1. Susan

          August 26, 2019 at 8:31 AM

          Yes!!! I am going to ask the library to get it in.

    2. Kal

      August 25, 2019 at 11:24 AM

      Thank you so much, Kayla, and I hope you love the book as much as I did! I’ll be interested in your thoughts on the romance

      1. Kayla @ Books and Blends

        August 26, 2019 at 7:14 AM

        You know I will tell you how I feel about it!

  2. Kelsey @ There's Something About KM

    August 22, 2019 at 11:13 AM

    Yeeesssss!! THRILLED to read your review – I am even more excited to read this now. 😀

    1. em||zayn.a.

      August 23, 2019 at 1:42 PM

      wow! i love your review. house of salts and sorrow sounds like a really amazing book. thanks for sharing your review! 💗

      1. Kal

        August 27, 2019 at 12:02 AM

        Thank you so much and I hope you enjoy the book if you decide to pick it up!

    2. Kal

      August 25, 2019 at 11:24 AM

      Drop everything and read this book now! Honestly, I loved it so much and hope you do too!

  3. evelynreads1

    August 22, 2019 at 12:39 PM

    I was already excited to read this, bit after reading your review I want to read it even more badly!

    (www.evelynreads.com)

    1. Kal

      August 25, 2019 at 11:36 AM

      Ahh happy to hear it and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

  4. celinelingg

    August 22, 2019 at 1:01 PM

    Love reading your review!!

    1. Kal

      August 25, 2019 at 11:37 AM

      Thank you so much for reading!

  5. moonlight & moths

    August 22, 2019 at 2:05 PM

    Dang everytime I think I have a good TBR for the next month in place you always review a book that makes me change everything to make room for it. I’m such a sucker for gothic books so I’m excited to read this.

    1. Kal

      August 25, 2019 at 11:39 AM

      Muahahaha, my reviews strike again! I am sorry for ruining your TBR plans, but honestly this book is incredible and I am so glad you are trying to find room to read it sooner rather than later! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

  6. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall

    August 23, 2019 at 7:19 PM

    Ahhh, Kaleena, you have made me even more excited to read this one now! I am so excited to see these Little Women-esque relationships, and it’s wonderful to see that it’s equal parts character and plot driven! <3

    1. Kal

      August 27, 2019 at 12:33 AM

      This book is a damn treasure for so many reasons, but the cast of sisters by far tops the list! This will make a perfect fall read, and I hope that you enjoy the book as much as I did when you pick it up!

  7. readingbystarlightblog

    August 23, 2019 at 8:33 PM

    I’m so glad you loved this, Kaleena because this is smack bang at the top of my TBR for September! I mean a haunting retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses??? Sign me the heck up! I love a good retelling and the plot and atmosphere seem so different and so intriguing. Great review! <3

    1. Kal

      August 27, 2019 at 12:44 AM

      YES I am so glad that this is on your September TBR (I think it will be the perfect fall read), and I hope you love it as much as I did! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

      1. readingbystarlightblog

        August 27, 2019 at 2:09 AM

        After hearing that it had a creepy element I was almost going to save it for Halloween – key word here being almost. I realized that there was just no way I could wait that long haha! Happy reading x

        1. Kal

          August 29, 2019 at 11:18 AM

          Hahaha that’s totally relatable! I think it will make a perfect transition-to-fall read, though. And let’s be honest… there is no wrong time for spooky content!

          1. readingbystarlightblog

            September 2, 2019 at 2:19 AM

            No truer words, Kal! x

  8. waytoofantasy

    August 24, 2019 at 11:19 AM

    Pulling an all nighter for a book is enough of a recommendation for me. I have this one in my tbr because I just signed up for OwlCrate and it was this month’s book. It wasn’t on my radar before that, but I’m so excited for it now. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to it soon. Great review, Kal!

    1. Kal

      August 27, 2019 at 1:02 AM

      Ahh you got the pretty Owlcrate edition, how fun! I am so glad you were able to get a copy of the book, and hope you love it as much as I did.

      1. waytoofantasy

        August 27, 2019 at 6:01 AM

        Thanks, I’m really getting hyped for it, the more I read about it. 🙂

  9. Destiny @ Howling Libraries

    August 24, 2019 at 8:33 PM

    Amazing review as always, my love! This sounds AMAZING. I’m so sad that I didn’t manage to pick up my eARC before it released after how highly I was anticipating it, but I just know I’m going to love it when I get the chance to read it. (I swear, if I could just hide in bed with my kindle for a month or two, I’d be GOLDEN)

    1. Kal

      August 29, 2019 at 10:51 AM

      Thank you so much, Destiny! I am literally kicking myself for picking this up like 2 days before release because I could have SCREAMED about this for weeks! I know you will enjoy reading this, the creep factor is kind of like the Long Room shit in Siren.

  10. TheCaffeinatedReader

    August 26, 2019 at 5:18 AM

    THIS BOOK THO. You and I are in SYNC with this, and like, a lot of books lately lol but I read your review and just enthusiastically nodded along to the point of looking like a bobblehead doll, also, tbh I had not seen the book trailer yet, I can’t watch vids on my phone but as I was on the laptop I finally got to see it, all the yes to that vid. I feel like this book just makes me want to sing praises for it constantly and to make a billion moodboards for it

    1. Kal

      August 29, 2019 at 11:03 AM

      I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT THIS BOOK, I love it so much! I picked up my copy on Tuesday when I went to Cora Carmack’s signing, and Cora’s best friend Lindsay asked me what I thought of it because she *almost* chose it for BOTM but didn’t… and I proceeded to sing it’s praises for like 2 minutes.

      This book makes me want to work at building some form of artistic skill so I can make artsy bookmark or print quote merch for it.

      1. TheCaffeinatedReader

        August 29, 2019 at 11:50 AM

        Same here!!! I’m like ‘damn it why can’t I make a wood mark or fancy dancing slippers?!’

        1. Kal

          August 29, 2019 at 12:12 PM

          I would kill for my own closet full of fairy shoes.

  11. Asha @ A Cat, A Book, and A Cup Of Tea

    August 30, 2019 at 1:23 PM

    Awesome review – your love really comes across! I’m dying to read this as it’s based on one of my favourite fairytales and sounds SO good, but I’m such a scaredy-cat when it comes to spooky books. I’ll have to read it in the middle of the day, I think. And only brightly lit days.

    1. Kal

      September 8, 2019 at 2:40 PM

      Thank you so much, Asha! My friend Amber told me she could only read the book during the day, and if you are scared easily by intensely atmospheric and gothic scenes, I’d recommend you do the same. It isn’t really horror per se, but it is creepy. Perfect for fall! I hope you love it!

  12. My favourite blog posts of August 2019! | the paperback piano

    August 31, 2019 at 1:53 AM

    […] Kal wrote a brilliant review of House of Salt and Sorrows; I hadn’t given much attention to this book before now but she made it sound so good! […]

  13. Monthly Wrap-Up: August 2019 – Siobhan's Novelties

    September 1, 2019 at 9:03 PM

    […] from Reader Voracious usually ends up on my list. She convinced me to read House of Salt and Sorrows. And the way she […]

  14. Erin Eliza

    September 8, 2019 at 10:05 AM

    Reading this I was trying very hard to convince myself I wouldn’t like this just to not add it to my TBR. Great characters and plot with spooky magical gothic feels? Nope..definitely don’t like those things…. lmao

    1. Kal

      September 11, 2019 at 11:46 AM

      This book is absolutely magical and spooky and beautiful, and I cannot recommend it enough! I shoved my copy at my best friend last week, lol! The book would make a great transition to fall read *wink wink*

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