Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Book Review: House of Salt & Sorrow

If you know me at all you know that I bought this completely for the cover. I heard the title and I kind of knew it was maybe popular, but this cover is stunning and I had to have it. But over the last couple of weeks I've seen it being picked for book clubs and October challenges so I figured I had to read it, too.
House of Salt & Sorrows - Erin A. Craig

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. 

Wow. Alright, I'm not really sure where to start with this and I honestly don't know what to share with you to convince you that you need this book without it being a spoiler.

I'll tell you that when I started this and realized it's kind of historical fiction and kind of a fantasy/baby horror, and it's kind of a retelling/re-imagining of 12 Dancing Princesses, I wasn't really sure how I was going to feel about this. Unexpected what the romance that pops up, and it ends up being a key part of "what is even real anymore?!".

So in this book we primarily follow Annaleigh, one of the twelve daughters of Highmoor. It starts off with three of them are already dead of various things, but so is their mother, and most recently dead daughter #4 turns up. Annaleigh is absolutely sure her sister would not have jumped off a cliff and someone else had to have pushed her, but of course, nobody in Highmoor is listening to/believing her. Her stepmother is pregnant with twins, her older sister Camille is kind of a petulant brat who just wants to inherit the entire thing, and everyone outside of Highmoor is absolutely convinced there is a curse over these girls.

They find a secret door that leads them to elegant and amazing balls, and all of the people there are unaware of their curse so these girls dance the night away, literally. All is not well though because Annaleigh can't shake the feeling that something is really very wrong, and as more people end up dead (not just more sisters) she feels like she's racing to figure it out before she is next.

This book is a TRIP. I'm not kidding. It is trippy, weird, terrifying, sad, but also creepy that you kind of don't want to take a bath or wander anywhere in the dark. I call it baby horror because there aren't any "jump scares" but there are "what in fresh hell is happening" kind of scares. Once everything starts unraveling is probably when I felt the saddest because it all makes sense and greed will make people do terrible, terrible things.

The book ends and it's both a solid, fulfilling ending but also a cliffhanger. If this author never writes anything connected to this, we'll be OK. If she does later decide on writing book two, I would be completely here for it because I feel like there could really be something there. I loved this book, I was absolutely hooked to it, this author has a terrific voice, and this story was so bizarre where I wasn't sure if I wanted to stick with it but I couldn't stop and I am so glad because the reveal and everything coming out was fantastic and I didn't see any of it coming.

If you're in the mood for something creepy for chilly fall nights, or just want something different from your usual fare, give this one a try.

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Erica Metcalf said...

I definitely need to check this one out!! Awesome review! This totally sold me "If you're in the mood for something creepy for chilly fall nights, or just want something different from your usual fare, give this one a try." :-D

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Baby horror, I like it! I have been hearing really good things about this one. I'm glad you really liked - sounds perfect for the Fall/Winter.