Despite the sticky summer heat, House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig managed to send chills down my spine!
Annaleigh and her eleven sisters live in Highmoor, a winding estate by the sea with their father. Where the walls used to echo with laughter, there are now black mourning dresses trailed through the empty hallways after the tragic deaths of four sisters. Strange visions and mysterious boy appear, but what does it mean? And will the sisters die off one by one until Highmoor becomes a tomb?
Annaleigh and her eleven sisters are standard characters. Had the girls not looked different or had different ages I would have thought there were a lot less than twelve sisters. In fact, I didn’t even realize the triplets and twins were different until halfway through just due to a lack of distinctness between them. A huge complaint is the “romance.” I am speechless at how dry it was. My God I cannot believe anyone would actually fall in love with this clown named Cassius. Name every cliche ever on book boyfriends and he’ll tick all those boxes. I’m just ignoring this ridiculous and unnecessary aspect and carry on with my day. However, I did like the father figure as a character. His actions made sense in respect to the historical period and he had complexity rather than a straight forward good or evil.
The world-building is great. Each location is vivid and haunting, never letting the characters or the reader feel completely at ease. I can practically smell the salty mist in the air as fog looms over a distant lighthouse. Another thing to add is the Game of Thrones vibes I got from the customs and setting. The people of Highmoor have a saying of people come from the salt (a.k.a. the sea) so they’ll return to the salt, and the Thaumas family has a huge octopus as their symbol–similar to the Ironborn Kraken of GoT.
A downside to the setup of the story is how in the first 60%, it felt like there were three separate storylines. One of the girls’ midnight rendezvous, one creepy ghost story, and one murder-mystery. They truly didn’t feel cohesive until the climax and by that point, I completely abandoned the notion that they were even inter-related. The stories weren’t bad if you viewed them individually and my strongest impression of the book has been the ghost “subplot.” I thought Erin A. Craig understands scary things don’t necessarily mean grotesque or bloody–it’s the moments when you doubt, when you see shadows out of the corner of your eyes, when you can find no safety–not even in yourself. I was genuinely spooked in segments of the book so a huge applause to Craig for getting under the skin of an avid horror movie watcher!
Read House of Salt and Sorrows for the Gothic atmosphere and incredible setting that will whisk you away to another time–you won’t be disappointed!
RATING: 3.85 OUT OF 5 STARS
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.