I finally did it! «House of Salt and Sorrow» came out in August of last year, and I was so upset with myself for not requesting it on NetGalley (I assume it was available on NetGalley?!). Just seeing this gorgeous cover, I knew it would be something I’d like. And then I heard that it was a retelling of rather famous Brothers Grimm fairytale – “The Twelve Dancing Sisters”, which surprisingly I’ve never read!
When I was little, the leatherbound edition of Brothers Grimm fairytales was one of my favorite books to read and play with. Maybe it didn’t have that particular fairytale? Or maybe I just never read all of them? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The «House of Salt and Sorrow» was a very enticing read. I flew through it in two days and I want more! I hope Erin A. Craig will write more eerie and atmospheric standalone fantasies in the future. Her next book «Small Favors» should come out in 2021 and I’m already excited about it!
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.
Right after finishing «House of Salt and Sorrow» I decided to read the folk tale it was inspired by – «The Twelve Dancing Princesses». And while I knew the story from my childhood, reading it as an adult was a completely different experience!
1 – I see why Erin A. Craig would feel inspired by this tale, and, in all honesty, I love a good retelling! While taking inspiration from the famous folk tale, Erin A. Craig expended it and made the story her own. The first time I saw this book, I knew I’d get that atmospheric, creepy story of magic and delirium.
There is a fine line between writing a compelling, eerie book and letting the story be complete madness. I feel like Erin A. Craig did an amazing job staying on the right side of that line. In some ways, this book reminded me of «Caraval» by Stephanie Garber. But while «Caraval» was all madness and illusions, «House of Salt and Sorrow» had this spooky feeling to it that kept me on the edge of my seat.
2 – Romance was one of my favorite parts of the story! What happened to me? Did Erin A. Craig just convert me into romance-lover? Or was it so spookily delicious that I forgot all clichés I venomously try to avoid and just dove head over heels for this relationship between Annaleight and … *smirk*
3 – Beside the romance, reading about the relationship between the sisters always brought a smile to my face, and I loved the contrast between the loving and playful relationship between the sisters with some spooky moments thrown into the mix! One chapter I’m fooling around with the girls, and the next I’m looking for a murderer while trying to not lose my mind!
Not all sisters had defined personalities. You can clearly see that the author didn’t bother to distinguish the triplets or give them individual sparks. Her focus was mostly on Annaleigh, as the main characters, on Camille as the oldest sister and the next heir in line, and also on little Verity, who was one of the spookiest characters I’ve ever read about! [mostly because I try to avoid horror books… 😀 ]
Annaleigh was the sweetest little thing, and there was no way me, as the reader, could have avoided falling in love with her, hoping she’d find what or who she was looking for and wouldn’t get hurt while doing that.
4 – «House of Salt and Sorror» is not your standard YA fantasy. It drinks from many different genres. There is, of course, the main mystery of “who did it?” and “what the heck is happening”. There is this wonderful new world with some many different lands – each one believing in their own God, each one lives by their own rules. I wouldn’t mind reading some other books set in the same world!
I particularly enjoyed the setting where this book took place. The misty islands where even air has the taste of salt. Gray weather and the lonely manor, where horrible things keep happening year after year.
Please, let there be more folk tales retelling by Erin A. Craig! If you’re waiting for a perfect time to read «House of Salt and Sorrow», now has never been a better time to finally pick it up! Eery, spooky and very atmospheric, this book will help you escape and forget all of the nowadays problems.
Have you read this book or planning to? What did you think of it?
Recommend other atmospheric reads in the comments below!