House of Salt and Sorrows
By Erin A. Craig
Published August 6, 2019 by Delacorte Press
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.
I absolutely loved House of Salt and Sorrows! It’s a retelling of the fairytale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but it’s much darker than the original tale and it’s quite unique.
On a remote island lives a Duke and his daughters. There were once 12 sisters, but four of them have died and the family is in perpetual mourning. Annaleigh is now the second oldest, and she begins to suspect that the most recent death wasn’t an accident. Fairytale retellings can be tricky. The reader already knows the basic plot, so there has to be something new to pull you into the story. House of Salt and Sorrows takes a very original approach to the story. Having some of the sisters already dead at the beginning of the story makes this as much a mystery as a fantasy, and I really enjoyed that aspect of the story.
The world building is really well done. The sense of the island, the sea, the life they live is vivid and really comes alive. The island is beautiful and creepy and vividly described. The islanders worship the sea god Pontus, and the pantheon of deities worshiped by the other parts of the country were fascinating. Annaleigh is a great character, and her grief is handled very nicely. I love fairytale retellings when they’re well done, and this one is nearly perfect. Even knowing the basic story, I had no idea where the story was going, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well the book stands on it own.
I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.