House of Salt and SorrowsHot
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. House of Salt and Sorrows is a spellbinding novel filled with magic and the rustle of gossamer skirts down long, dark hallways. Get ready to be swept away.
What I Loved
-I adored Annaleigh and her sisters. The family dynamic after losing the four eldest sisters has shifted. The girls are all trying to find where they fit in their new roles as oldest. Every girl that remains is unique, not once did I find myself confused about which sister did what in the story. I loved the triplets and the Graces (the three youngest sisters). They completely stole my heart, and that may have been because we are inside Annaleigh’s head, seeing them and feeling what she is feeling.
-The mystery surrounding the family and the supposed curse made for a fast-paced read. I did not want to sit it down. It’s engaging and really makes you think and scrutinize the details. When I wasn’t actively reading the story, I was thinking about it, hashing out the details trying to solve the mystery. Many predictions were made, and honestly none were right. The unpredictability of the mystery added to my enjoyment.
-This story is mostly psychological thriller, more than horror. Annaleigh is an unreliable narrator in that you never know if what she is seeing and reporting are actually happening. It adds to the tension of the story, letting your mind wander about what is happening, who is behind it, and can it be stopped. I personally loved this element!
-The setting of the story on an island nation is fantastic. They are an extension of the mainland, yet isolated and have their own customs. It’s reminiscent of late 1800s or early 1900s Greecian. There are gods and goddesses roaming the lands but also gas lamps and indoor plumbing. It’s an interesting world, one I’d love to revisit in additional stories if the author chose to write them.
What Left Me Wanting
Not much, honestly. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. My only complaint (if it can be called that) is the amount of gore which served as the horror aspect of the story. At times, it felt appropriate, especially when Annaleigh is seeing what she believes are ghosts, but at others it was there for the “shock and awe” factor. Despite that, it works well with the story and overall mystery that Annaleigh is chasing.
Overall, I really liked House of Salt and Sorrows. The mystery, the madness, the gore, all of it makes for a dark fantasy tale that is unputdownable. Deliciously dark and only mildly horrific, House of Salt and Sorrows will leave readers pondering the details long after they hit the end. I highly recommend it for fantasy readers who enjoy a thrill and mystery.
What worked: This is a spellbinding twist on the classic fairy tale Twelve Dancing Princess. This story though is darker and much more satisfying! Add mythological seafaring gods, a mystery, and a charismatic stranger, all set on a rocky island.
Usually when a book has numerous characters, it's confusing to know who is who. Craig though shows us the sisters in such a way a reader doesn't get confused. Annaleigh is strong, courageous, and not afraid to follow her heart. She also has a forgiving heart and tries to make her new stepmother feel more welcomed.
The magical dances are the stuff of fairy tales. Annaleigh is swept up in the dances, but later feels something isn't quite right. When her father tells his guests, during a holiday celebration, that he'll give them their choice of any of the sisters if they can find out the mystery behind the tattered shoes, a change sweeps over the household. A change that has tragic and surprising reveals.
I loved the Wuthering Heights feel of Annaleigh and the mysterious Cassius. Readers can sense that he might in fact be more than he's letting on. There is a definite chemistry between the two.
Captivating Gothic fantasy where a family curse might be much more.
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.