House of Salt and Sorrows
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 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.