Title: House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Published: Delacorte (August 6, 2019)
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
I didn’t know much about this book going into it, but it was a Book of the Month selection, and I’m a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling.
House of Salt and Sorrows is a loose retelling of The Twleve Dancing Princesses, and though it’s often tagged as a Fantasy book, I would put it more in the Horror category. But regardless, it is compulsively readable, and the ending had me all in my feelings.
“In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.”
Annaleigh lives a quiet life at her family’s manor by the sea, Highmoor, with her sisters, father, and new stepmother. The surrounding town begins whispering about Annaleigh’s family and the possibility that they are cursed as her sisters begin dying under increasingly suspicious circumstances. After her sister Eulalie’s death, Annaleigh begins to suspect that her sister’s deaths aren’t the result of a curse nor were they just tragic accidents.
“The euphoria was tangible: I could taste it in the air, the sweetness coating my mouth and going straight to my head like champagne.”
Annaleigh’s investigation takes a turn for the magical as she and her sisters begin attending balls via a secret portal and dancing their nights away in glittering gowns. As Annaleigh begins questioning events and motivations, the story gets increasingly dark and twisty. There are ghost hauntings, mysterious strangers, and nightmarish visions. But, these are balanced with sisters who love each other fiercely and an endearing romance.
“Nights like this were meant to be shared, remembers, and talked about for years. Skies like this were meant to be kissed under.”
This book kept me guessing from start to finish. And each new turn had me questioning what I thought I knew. I loved how dedicated Annaleigh was to protecting her sisters and finding out the truth even as she was continually made to question herself and her conclusions.
It’s a story that’s easy to loose yourself in, and I could almost feel the chill of the sea as I stayed up far to late to finished this book. It is a deeply atmospheric story about love, and revenge, and seeking the truth no matter the cost.
“Me? He looked down. “I’m the most terrifying nightmare of them all.”
I raised by eyebrows, waiting for him to elaborate.
This story is definitely dark and creepy so if that is not your cup of tea, this book may not be for you; there are graphic depictions of gore and violence. House of Salt and Sorrows is full of twists and turns – it’s part fairy tale, part murder mystery, and part Gothic horror novel. And, somehow Craig makes it all work. I will definitely be picking up anything else she writes.
Trigger Warnings: death of a loved one, stillbirth, gore, domestic violence, alcoholic rage, discussions of suicide, one questioning their sanity, death of an animal