House of Salt and Sorrows (Sisters of the Salt #1)
Published August 6, 2019
About House of Salt and Sorrows
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.
I’ve had this book for years. I think I ordered a copy the year it was published, but I only just got around to reading it now that there’s a sequel. Truthfully, I’m glad I waited so long to read it because I would not have been prepared for how creepy/horror-adjacent it is. I think I expected more of a Marissa Meyer fairy tale retelling vibe, and it definitely read as darker than that.
The setting really pulled me in. Annaleigh’s family celebrates holidays and burial traditions anchored to her culture and their worship of Pontus, the god of the sea. The sea itself, the lighthouse, and Annaleigh’s family home all felt very real.
I also liked the mystery element of the story. Annaleigh worries that someone has murdered her sister and chases down every lead she can find searching for the culprit. The sisterly love and the unexpected discoveries that the mystery led her to definitely kept me engaged in the story. I also enjoyed the romance between her and Cassius.
The pacing of the story felt a little uneven to me. Like, a LOT happened in the last fifty pages of the book. Annaleigh learns a lot of new information and faces some pretty intense stuff. Those late chapters also have one of the most intense psychological horror scenes of the whole book.
I found myself wishing a little more of that information had been revealed or at least hinted at earlier on, rather than rushed through at the end. I think the way things played out also muddled some elements of the plot, such as which deaths had unnatural causes versus which didn’t.
All in all, I am glad I finally read it, and there were things about the story I enjoyed. If you enjoy dark fairy tales with a horror element to them, HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS will definitely scratch that itch.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Major characters are white.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used pretty infrequently.
Kissing between boy and girl.
Annaleigh and one of her sisters see ghosts and encounter some haunting experiences. Annaleigh and her family worship the god of the sea, Pontus. Other people from other places worship different gods or goddesses.
Situations of peril. Tentacled arms grab a girl in the water. Sketches show girls who’ve died, including details alluding to the manner of their deaths (an obviously broken neck, for example). Several scenes include someone finding people who’ve died. One scene shows a nightmarish party with really gross food and drink served. That scene and another include situations and descriptions that would qualify as psychological horror.
Social drinking, such as champagne at a party. At one party, several men get drunk and say cruel or inappropriate things to women there.
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