darkly haunting and spell-binding
HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS is an elegant and enchanting dark YA fantasy. Fans of the 12 Dancing Princesses will be delighted by this deliciously haunting retelling. Annaleigh is the sixth of twelve daughters whose lives have been filled with death. On the islands where they live and her father currently holds the dukedom, the eldest child inherits, whether or not they are male. Annaleigh never imagined she would be in a viable position to inherit, and she has been completely shocked by the events that have led to her having only one older sister, Camille, left. As the four before her have died, Annaleigh suspects that she or Camille are next.
The deaths began with the loss of their mother after childbirth and have continued for so many years that the mourning customs have been their only customs. The series of deaths have led the people around them to believe that the Thaumus family is cursed. However, Annaleigh looks beyond the deaths to suspect murder. As she investigates, stranger and stranger happenings have her second-guessing herself and everything she sees and knows.
With her new stepmother expecting and the shroud of sorrow hanging over the family for so long, everyone but Annaleigh is eager to move on and forget the past. When they find a portal that will take them anywhere, the sisters are all ready to adorn their beautiful gowns and shoes and dance all night at elegant balls. However, Annaleigh is focused on discovering who might be targeting their family before it is too late. With twists and turns and a handsome love interest, this book is completely spell-binding.
Annaleigh is a beautifully crafted character and easy to relate to. Through her eyes, we witness the (at times) horrors and mysteries that shroud the Thaumus family. This is easily a book which kept me up at night turning pages and is difficult to put down. The premise is expertly executed, capturing the 12 Dancing Princesses in a unique and completely fascinating way. As one of my favorite fairytales, I had high expectations, and they were completely met and exceeded.
In terms of the love interest for Annaleigh, this felt a little insta-love-ish, and I was on-board later in the story, though I had a hard time getting into them as a couple. I would have either liked more build up to the romance or for it to be excluded (there is certainly enough else to keep the reader’s eager attention). Other than that, the book has a fantastic build to a twisty and perfect conclusion. The setting is lyrically crafted and absolutely ideal for this dark and spell-binding story. Everything is wrapped up so well at the end also- what a perfect stand-alone novel!
I highly recommend for people who like horror/thrillers, mysteries, fantasy, and dark fairytale retellings. I would add warnings for murders, suicide, and mental illness. Perfect for fans of WINTERSONG and THE WHITE STAG.