House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Pages: 416 pages
Genre: YA Fantasy Retelling
Published: August 2019
Rating: 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.
Wow! This book blew me away. It was so good, I could not put it down. House of Salt and Sorrows was a relatively quick read and I definitely think I could have read it in one sitting if I didn’t have work to do. I went into this book not really knowing what to expect, but this was an amazing fairy tale retelling!
‘We are born of the Salt, we live by the Salt, and to the Salt we return.’
This book is a dark and twisted retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. It starts off with a funeral for Eulalie, one of the sisters. We quickly find out that she was the fourth sister to have died, in addition to their mother, leaving only eight sisters. This book is not a light hearted read. It was haunting and I was immersed in the tale that the author spun. There were so many twists and turns that I did not see coming, and I was constantly kept on my toes. There is a part of me that wants to label this as horror, as some of the ghostly visions were truly terrifying. House of Salt and Sorrows is one big mystery and it will keep you guessing as I truly could not have predicted what happened!
‘Nights like this were meant to be shared, remembered, and talked about for years. Skies like this were meant to be kissed under.’
It is told from Annaleigh’s point of view, she is now the second eldest sister, after Camille. Her father has gotten remarried to Morella and their lives are in the process of change again. After wearing mourning clothes and not attending any events since the death of their mother, they are suddenly thrust into the world of balls and public life in bright colours. A ball is organised for the triplets who are turning sixteen, however, no one dances with the sisters, apart from Fisher, Camille and Annaleigh’s childhood friend. Many believe the family to be cursed with death. With the addition of Fisher, the sisters come across a door that takes them to dazzling balls each night, and from that point on they spend every night dancing. Annaleigh takes part in this, until she starts to feel something is amiss and that is when I fully became addicted to this story! There is a bit of romance in this book, but it is not forced. Annaleigh meets Cassius and they get along really well. However, your are left debating whether you can trust him or not.
‘All my life has been moonlight and the stars. I can smell the sunlight racing through your veins from across a room. Sunlight and heat and salt. Always the salt.’
I wasn’t expecting to feel quite as upset during this book as I was. There are definitely some scenes that I would recommend checking for trigger warnings if you think that could be an issue. This was quite an emotional rollercoaster of a read, but I am so glad I read it! The ending was bitter sweet! It is hard to say any more without revealing major spoilers but I do not regret reading this and recommend it to all who love YA Fantasy fairy tale retellings, especially ones that are dark and gothic!
Have you read this book, or do you think you will? I couldn’t put it down!