House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Publisher: Delacorte (August 6, 2019)
Hardcover, 416 pages
YA Fantasy, YA Horror, Fairy Tale Retellings
Goodreads | Amazon
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.
Before reading this book, I didn’t know that fairy tale horror was a genre I needed in my life. (OK, that’s not entirely true, Mira Grant’sInto the Drowning Deep kind of clued me in.) The 12 Dancing Princesses is a fairy tale you definitely don’t see retellings of very often, and as I’m also working on retelling of this story (though mine’s in an Urban Fantasy setting), I knew I HAD TO read this book.
House of Salt and Sorrows gets off to a bit of a slow start, and then was just sort of OK for me until about chapter 26-ish. Then I hit the end of chapter 28 and I couldn’t put the book down until I was finished. I kept going “WHAAAAAT?! No way!” And then the ending is a bit abrupt, but still pretty dang awesome. I want to say more but I’m trying to stay away from spoilers! I was pretty sure I knew what was going on/who the “bad guy” was, but then Craig kept throwing all these curve balls out there that were so wonderfully surprising. I would have liked a little more from Annaleigh’s “love triangle,” but that’s the romance reader in me. There are also SO MANY QUESTIONS I still have about certain events, so I wish some of the loose ends had been tied up a little more neatly. The spooky gothic elements are by far the best part of this story, and a lot of that doesn’t start until about halfway into the book, so stick with it through the beginning to get to the spook-stuff!
All in all, House of Salt and Sorrows great read and a SUPER great debut. I can’t wait to see what Erin A. Craig writes next, because I am SO on board!