House of Salt and Sorrows

House of Salt and Sorrows

by Erin A. Craig

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"Step inside a fairy tale."—Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

Get swept away by the New York Times bestseller that Melissa Albert, author of The Hazel Wood, calls "eerie" and "lovely." As one by one her beautiful sisters mysteriously die on their isolated island estate, Annaleigh must unravel the curse that haunts her family. Be careful who you dance with...

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor with her sisters and their father and stepmother. Once there 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 her sister's deaths were no accidents. The girls 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.

"An eerie, lovely Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling full of ghosts and gods and a fascinating waterfront world and I'm reading it from behind my fingers."—Melissa Albert, New York Times bestselling author of The Hazel Wood

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593102923
Publisher: Books on Tape, Inc.
Publication date: 08/06/2019
Edition description: Bot Exclusive ed.
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.50(h) x 5.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Erin A. Craig has always loved telling stories. After getting her BFA in Theatre Design and Production from the University of Michigan, she stage managed tragic operas filled with hunchbacks, séances, and murderous clowns, then decided she wanted to write books that were just as spooky. An avid reader, decent quilter, rabid basketball fan, and collector of typewriters, Erin makes her home in Memphis with her husband and daughter.
@Penchant4Words on Twitter and Instagram

Read an Excerpt

CANDLELIGHT   REFLECTED   OFF  THE  SILVER ANCHOR etched onto my sister’s necklace. It was an ugly piece of jewelry and something Eulalie would never have picked out for herself. She loved simple strands of gold, extravagant collars of diamonds. Not . . . that. Papa must have selected it for her. I fumbled at my own necklace of black pearls, wanting to offer her something more stylish, but the battalion of pallbearers shut the coffin lid before I could undo the clasp.
“We, the People of the Salt, commit this body back to the sea,” the High Mariner intoned as the wooden box slid deep into the waiting crypt.
I tried not to notice the smattering of lichens growing inside the gaping mouth, drawn wide to swallow her whole. Tried not to think of my sister—who was alive, and warm, and breathing just days before—being laid to rest. Tried not to imagine the thin bottom of the coffin growing fat with condensation and salt water before splitting asunder and spilling Eulalie’s body into the watery depths beneath our family mausoleum.
I tried, instead, to cry.
I knew it would be expected of me, just as I knew the tears were unlikely to come. They would later on, probably this evening when I passed her bedroom and saw the black shrouds covering her wall of mirrors. Eulalie had had so many mirrors.
She’d been the prettiest of all my sisters. Her rosy lips were forever turned in a smile. She loved a good joke, her bright green eyes always ready for a quick wink. Scores of suitors vied for her attention, even before she became the eldest Thaumas daughter, the one set to inherit all of Papa’s fortune.
“We are born of the Salt, we live by the Salt, and to the Salt we return,” the High Mariner continued.
“To the Salt,” the mourners repeated.
As Papa stepped forward to place two gold pieces at the foot of the crypt—payment to Pontus for easing my sister back into the Brine—I dared to sweep my eyes around the mausoleum. It was overflowing with guests bedecked in their finest black wools and crepes, many of them once would-be beaus of Eulalie. She would have been pleased to see so many brokenhearted young men openly lamenting her.
“Annaleigh,” Camille whispered, nudging me.
“To the Salt,” I murmured. I pressed a handkerchief to my eyes, feigning tears.
Papa’s keen disapproval burned in my heart. His own eyes were soggy and his proud nose was red as the High Mariner stepped forward with a chalice lined with abalone shell and filled with seawater. He thrust it into the crypt and poured the water onto Eulalie’s coffin, ceremonially beginning its decomposition. Once he doused the candles flanking the stony opening, the service was over.
Papa turned to the gathered mass, a wide shock of white streaked through his dark hair. Was it there yesterday?
“Thank you for coming to remember my daughter Eulalie.” His voice, usually so big and bold, accustomed to addressing lords at court, creaked with uncertainty. “My family and I invite you to join us now at Highmoor for a celebration of her life. There will be food and drink and . . .” He cleared his throat, sounding more like a stammering clerk than the nineteenth Duke of the Salann Islands. “I know how much it would have meant to Eulalie to have you there.”
He nodded once, speech over, his face a blank facade. I longed to reach out to ease his grief, but Morella, my stepmother, was already at his side, her hand knotted around his. They’d been married just months before and should have still been in the heady, blissful days of their joined life.
This was Morella’s first trip to the Thaumas mausoleum. Did she feel uneasy under the watchful scrutiny of my mother’s memorial statue? The sculptor used Mama’s bridal portrait as reference, transmitting youthful radiance into the cool gray marble. Though her body returned to the sea many years ago, I still visited her shrine nearly every week, telling her about my days and pretending she listened.
Mama’s statue towered over everything else in the mausoleum, including my sisters’ shrines. Ava’s was bordered in roses, her favorite flower. They grew fat and pink in the summer months, like the plague pustules that claimed her life at only eighteen.
Octavia followed a year later. Her body was discovered at the bottom of a tall library ladder, her limbs tangled in a heap of unnatural angles. An open book adorned her resting place, along with a quote etched in Vaipanian, which I’d never learned to read.
With so much tragedy compressed into our family, it seemed inevitable when Elizabeth died. She was found floating in the bathtub like a piece of driftwood at sea, waterlogged and bleached of all color. Rumors ran from Highmoor to the villages on neighboring islands, whispered by scullery maids to stable boys, passed from fishmongers to their wives, who spread them as warnings to impish children. Some said it was suicide. Even more believed we were cursed.
Elizabeth’s statue was a bird. It was meant to be a dove, but its proportions were all wrong and it looked more like a seagull. A fitting tribute for Elizabeth, who always so badly wanted to soar away.
What would Eulalie’s be?
Once there were twelve of us: the Thaumas Dozen. Now we stood in a small line, my seven sisters and I, and I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a ring of truth to the grim speculations. Had we somehow angered the gods? Had a darkness branded itself on our family, taking us out one by one? Or was it simply a series of terrible and unlucky coincidences?
After the service, the crowd broke up and began milling around us. As they whispered their strained condolences, I noticed the guests were careful not to get too close. Was it in deference to our station, or were they worried something might rub off? I wanted to chalk it up to lowbrow superstition, but as a distant aunt approached me, a thin smile on her thin lips, the same question flickered in her eyes, just below the surface, impossible to miss:
Which one of us would be next?

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House of Salt and Sorrows 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
ElleRudy 5 months ago
This ended up being a lot creepier than I was expecting! I thought it would be a Victorianesque fantasy/murder mystery as a spin on the old 12 Dancing Princesses fairytale, which it still was. But there was a really Gothic and twisted element to the story that was a welcome surprise. All of the characters come off as at least a little bit sinister as you attempt to unravel the strange events befalling the Thaumas family. You're never sure what's real and what's not, which is disorienting in the best way. It's a really devastating story, even if it ends on a high-ish note, there's a lot of death and destruction. I'd suggest not reading while on any downers. The one thing I wish wasn't as prevalent was the romantic element. Maybe it's my cold, un-dead heart, but I kind of feel like it takes away from the familial love and trauma if in the midst of mourning your sisters there's a week-old romance that gets all the grand gestures and statements. But it's based on a fairytale, so the heroine is expected to fall in love with the first person who says "bless you" when she sneezes, I guess. On the source material, I really, really liked the answer to the question: "How do the princesses' shoes keep getting worn out?" Craig is quite clever with this storyline and it's one of my favorite parts of the whole book!
magicalreads7 6 months ago
**I received an ARC from Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.** 3.5 stars I was incredibly excited to be approved for an ARC of House of Salt and Sorrows because I’d heard such great things. I was hesitant to start it, though, because I heard that it was scary, and I am a total weenie when it comes to horror/suspense. However, it wasn’t as intense as some people made it out to be. That being said, I did enjoy this book! House of Salt and Sorrows is a lovely retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, set against a gloomy backdrop by the sea. The sister relationships are so strong! The book opens with one of the older sister’s funerals (I think that the first three have already died, but it’s been a while since I finished this book). As one of the remaining eldest sisters, Annaleigh takes on the role of her younger sisters’ carers. I loved that Annaleigh is so kind-hearted, even with her stepmother whom she dislikes. It’s a good characteristic to have. The worldbuilding was so cool; I’m strangely into island-centered books, and this story is heavily impacted by the isolation of the island. The gloominess of living by the sea creates a quietly intense atmosphere surrounding the words. Again, thrillers/horror/suspense is usually not my genre, but I really enjoyed this one! I especially liked the fantasy aspect of it; the religious system was interesting. There were, however, some parts of the book that irritated me. The romance wasn’t particularly interesting to me because it was so instalove-y that I couldn’t take them seriously. I also thought the ending was incredibly rushed; I think everything happens in the last ten percent, having been built up so much and then all of the reveals being unveiled so quickly. House of Salt and Sorrows was, overall, a nice read. The atmosphere was well-established, a soft gloominess that creeps up on you. I found this to be a solid debut. If you want something that will make you hold your breath, I definitely recommend this book.
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Anonymous 9 days ago
Faye_reviews 20 days ago
Annaleigh and her sisters are proud of their Salt nobility, raised to respect the waters of the sea. Once twelve, they are now seven, as one by one tragic accidents claim the lives of her mother and sisters, and it is rumored that their family is cursed. Each death upends their family again and again, as well as their father's recent remarriage to a young second wife. Nightly balls distract the sisters from their sorrow, as nightmare, reality, and daydream blend together into a maddening fray where Annaleigh doesn't know who to trust, or what is real or just illusion. A spellbinding and engrossing read that takes a familiar tale adding elements of seaside life and darker otherworldly elements. This is a strong debut, with defining attention to detail that made each of the seven sisters stay distinct in my head. This story was very good at keeping me guessing, with red herrings, blending mythology with the psychological. Annaleigh is a admirable young woman who never asked to be a heroine or bear her family's grief, she loves her family fiercely, and fights to bring them all together again. A wonderfully told tale, with characters flawed in ways that brought them to life realistically. Powerful world building, mystery, intrigue, fantasy, and even romance, this book has a lot going for it. I really enjoyed the differing dynamics between the different sisters, as well as how they grieve and deal with the changes in their lives in their own ways. Even though there were some moments of more adult content, I felt like in the context of the story it was dealt with well in that it wasn't overly explicit. I stayed up way too late reading this one, so to say that it was gripping would not quite do it justice as I am a person who values good sleep. This surpassed my expectations, and I will definitely be on the lookout for future releases from Erin A. Craig. If you are a fan of YA fantasy with a fairy tale twist and don't mind them taking a darker turn than the original, then this one is for you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Jdp15 22 days ago
I finished reading "House of Salt and Sorrows" by Erin A. Craig and it was so good! I loved it! 5⭐. This Twelve Dancing Princesses' fairy tale retelling had me hooked. And those plot twists!!
STELLA RAASCH 25 days ago
I LOVED this book!!! Each time I had to put it down to continue on with life's tasks, my mind kept thinking about it. and I couldn't wait to get back to reading it. The story within these pages possesses a dark, spooky tone combined with an intense element of mystery, and a hint of romance. This is one of the best books I've read this summer!
taramichelle 3 months ago
I recently read House of Salt and Sorrows and enjoyed it. While I wish the world-building had been expanded (mostly because the world was SO cool and I loved the blend of mythology and reality), I loved the characters and the mystery. I was totally surprised because I did not expect a YA fantasy to also be a psychological thriller but I’d say this one definitely classifies, it kept me intrigued and constantly guessing. I love nothing more than not knowing which character to trust and this book did that beautifully. The romance was a bit insta-lovey but I did like the two characters together! However, the relationship between Annaleigh and her family, particularly her sisters, is what really drew me in. If you’re looking for a darker YA fantasy that also contain a fantastic mystery, definitely check this one out! *Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
FadedPages 3 months ago
4/5 stars *Thank you so much to NetGalley, Delacorte Press, and Random House Children's for allowing me the opportunity to read this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. I really liked this mixture of YA thriller, fantasy and romance that was a retelling of the twelve dancing princesses. I have never read the original fairytale it was based on, but the story felt like a new classic the more I read. This was definitely a creepy fairytale where the less you know going into it the better. It was definitely a slow burn and took a few chapters to get into, but once I did I couldn't put it down! Synopsis For years, the Thaumas household of Highmoor has been in mourning. One after the other, the eldest daughters have died from a variety of ailments to accidents. With the latest death being her sister Eulalie, Annaleigh has grown suspicious and begins to wonder if someone or something could be responsible for her siblings' demise. Pacing & Points of View There is only one point of view and it's Annaleigh, one of the daughters. Since you were only seeing things from Annaleigh's point of view, it kept you guessing and discovering parts of the story along with her. I'll be honest. I put this story down twice, hence the loss of a star, but hang in there until 25% or around chapter ten! It might have been my experience, but this is a story that slowly builds upon itself. The creepy atmosphere was there from the start and is what truly kept me reading. Give this story time to teach you about all the characters in play and develop a relationship with this world of salt, because once you hit that mark you'll be able to finish the book quickly. I finished it within a few hours once I reached a certain point. I just couldn't put it down and I had to know how it would all end! Characters Annaleigh was the most sensible, practical character out of the sisters and I loved her. I don't think I could have made it through the whole book otherwise. I really liked seeing the glimpses of personality from the other sisters, especially little Verity. The bonds between the sisters and family were strong and easily felt while reading. Camille was the only one that drove me crazy, but only because as the eldest she should have had more of Annaleigh's sense. Cassius and Fisher were the leading men and definitely kept me guessing throughout the story. Overall Overall, I really liked this thrilling retelling and spin on the twelve dancing princesses. The entire story came together so beautifully by the end and I loved how it mixed several genres in YA fiction. I can't wait to read more from this author! I would highly recommend the audiobook as well. Some of the eeriness of the world jumps out at you and makes this story worth a listen around dark, stormy nights!
Anonymous 3 months ago
she drew me in and kept me enthralled till the very end.
LibaryInTheCountry 4 months ago
LOVE LOVE LOVED THIS. AH! I have so many thoughts. House of Salt & Sorrows swept me off my feet and into a waltz worthy of a masquerade. I love the way Erin blended the stories of Twelve Dancing Princesses and Annabel Lee into this. I loved the decidedly Crimson Peak and Agatha Christie vibes. This book has an undeniably eerie and gothic atmosphere and I was absolutely living for it. The story's narrator is Annaleigh, one of twelve daughters of the Thaumas family. Annaleigh has five older sisters, however only one is living. The story begins with the funeral of her sister Eulalie, the latest tragedy in a string of untimely deaths that claimed four of Annaleigh's older sisters and their mother. The people of the Salann Islands have begin to suspect the Thaumas family and their manor at Highmoor are cursed, and the family has begun to suspect so themselves. However, Annaleigh will not settle for that answer. Curse or not, she believes there is a reason for her family's terrible luck and seeks to discover why. This story blends fantasy, mystery and mythology, with incredible and atmospheric world-building to create a story that will constantly have you swept up into its wondrous landscape and asking "whodunnit?" As Annaleigh searches for answers, she is joined by her sisters, childhood best friend and a mysterious young man new to the islands. After so many years of mourning, their family seeks a way to move on without seeming callous to their beloved lost and the communities of the islands. Under secret, the sisters attend peculiar balls of grandeur where they dance their shoes to bits and as her sisters become increasingly obsessed, Annaleigh begins to suspect all may not be as it seems. In addition to the mystery surrounding the Thaumas family deaths, the sisters feeling increasing pressure to find a suitor and marry. Annaleigh herself finds love may not be as unobtainable as she had previously suspected. I thoroughly loved the romance sub-plot in this book and found it interesting and charming, especially as more light is shed about the mystery at the core of this story. One should know this story depicts some horror elements in possible poltergeists, gore and talk of murder/suicide. I didn't find this to be too much, personally - if anything it really added to the atmosphere of the story, however those that scare easily may want to skip a few paragraphs here and there. Overall, this story had be guessing until the end. I suspected some of what came to be, but much of it took me by surprise - hat's off to that because I was certain I had it figured out! Finally, after reading or listening to this - definitely reread Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee. You'll be in for a treat when you see all of the ways Erin was able to inject the poem into this story.
Bookyogi 4 months ago
Things that I love about this book: 1. The cover; it is gorgeous. 2. The synopsis with the promise of intrigue and mystery. I was looking forward to this one, but with a book that suggests murder and ghosts and more death, I was surprised at how prim and vanilla this book read. Words like, “On such a glorious night I wanted dancing and stars and champagne” left me bored and wandering. I don’t know what it is for sure, but this one just didn’t work for me. I know there are others that loved it, so perhaps it was me for this one.
BeautyBookCorner 4 months ago
I’m a big mood reader and wanted to read a fantasy book that doesn’t give me winter feels. So many of my fantasy books on my TBR are set in winter, which is my favorite kind of fantasy, but I wanted something set around the ocean so it feels like a summer read but that also gave me dark and moody vibes I love. AND THIS WAS PERFECTION. Set on an island where you can almost taste and feel the harsh air and salty seawater. I went into the book with little expectations since I wasn’t familiar with the synopsis or author. And I devoured this! Apparently, this is inspired by the fairytale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I didn’t really know anything about the fairytale before reading so it’s not necessary that you do since it’s s more inspired by the story and not a retelling of it. I love that this was a fantasy book set in an older time period. We have dukes, sailing, aristocratic manors, beautiful dresses and balls, and, of course, romance! This is set in a world where the people of the islands and mainland worship different gods and goddesses. The time period and social customs feel like Western Europe but the religion and setting made this world feel unique and original. Everyone on the island of Salten worships Pontus, the god of the ocean. We see cultural differences between those who live on the islands and those from the mainland. I felt the mention of different deities created a rich world that seemed larger than just what was happening on the island of Salten where our characters live. “We are born of the Salt, we live by the Salt, and to the Salt we return.” Everyone thinks the women of the Thaumas house are cursed. Annaleigh and her sisters have lived most their lived in mourning. First, the mom died. Followed by two sisters. And the book opens up at the funeral of a third sister. Annaleigh is our main character and now the second oldest in the family. She believes that her sister did not die accidentally but that she was murdered. Something is clearly going on and she wants to find out before anyone else dies. But with a new stepmother from the mainland and her increasingly resentful older sister, her father decides the family should have a new beginning and stop mourning. So the sisters are thrown into a new life of colorful dresses, outings, balls, and dancing. Annaleigh meets a new man, Cassius, who is kind, dashing, and shows interest in her. But all the good changes don’t change the fact that something sinister might be going on, even though her sister and father insist the deaths have been coincidental and to stop stirring up trouble. “Noises in the house became my departed sisters creeping in, ready for me to join them.” This book was atmospheric with dark and gothic vibes. I was sucked in right away trying to figure out who or what was behind all the deaths. Is there a curse? Is the new handsome stranger, Cassius, somehow involved? Are the gods behind it? I kept thinking this person or that person was suspicious. I was sucked in right away and the pacing was excellent. Seriously, there were so many twists and unexpected events that kept me hooked throughout the entire book. And in general, the whole book felt like a fairytale. From the setting to the events that happened, it read like an original fairytale. And I loved it!
Take_Me_AwayPH 4 months ago
I love when we get retellings that tell a story we don't see much of. And this re-telling of Twelve Dancing Princesses fits right into this category. I was so excited to see that we were getting this story and I was even more excited to see that everyone was loving it! "No matter where you were on the island, you could always taste the sea." 2% Twelve sisters live in a manor by the sea and there is a bad curse floating around them. The curse then starts killing the sisters one by one. Annaleigh knows something is going on and vows to find out what is going on. All the while her sisters are sneaking out and going dancing to these fancy balls in fancy dresses and slippers. Can Annaleigh find out what's happening before she's the next to be found dead? "But what if there was a cause for joy? Something that ought to be celebrated, not hidden away? Shouldn't good news triumph?" 4% Unfortunately, as excited as I was for this one, I didn't feel that way after I finished it. It had some really great things, but also some really meh things.As for the meh things, the plot really threw me. At times I was eager to keep turning pages, but then at others I was bored out of my mind. It seems like it was nothing happening for long periods of time, but when things started happening, they REALLY started happening. But I was hoping for more of the exciting times. "As I left, the door slammed shut after me, as if pushed by unseen hands." 15% As for the re-telling tho, I thought it was pretty solid. But this is where I had to really sit and think about what I wanted to rate this. I never finished the "real" story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I know the gist of it, but I never read it all. Which is why I wasn't surprised I wanted to skim this story at some parts. But in the end I did like it and I thought it was a really solid retelling of the story. "Are all boys so very dull?" 23% As for what I liked, I LOVED the creepy parts of this! I found that the parts that had something weird going on made me not want to put the book down. I don't read much YA horror anymore (because there's not much out there) and it was something that I've missed so much. And this filled that void for me for minute. "I don't know. I think you get to a certain point in life when ghosts are no longer fun. When the people you love die... like my father, your mother and sisters... the thought that they could be trapped here.... it's unbearable, isn't it? I can't imagine a worse fate. Unseen, unheard. Surrounded by people who remember you a little less each day. I would go out of my mind, wouldn't you?" 27% Everything else, like the characters and writing style were ok and I didn't really find anything that stood out from other YA books I've read. This was a solid book, but nothing that made me want to shout about it from the roof tops. I was a bit underwhelmed to be honest. I think it was the hype. But all in all, I did like this one and I hope we get more unique re-tellings from Craig in the future.
Anonymous 4 months ago
An enjoyable read. The writing is beautiful and infuses magic into every line. The setting of the book is unique and fascinating. The mystery kept me on my toes and constantly questioning every character. And the world that is spun out between the pages is carefully crafted and curated. When I was reading I couldn’t but this book down. The problem was picking it back up after it being set down for more than a day. Due to the world being so decadently elaborate, it took an adjustment to sink back in. *Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.*
Mel-Loves-Books 4 months ago
“I don’t know. I think you get to a certain point in life when ghosts are no longer fun. When the people you love die... like my father, your mother and sisters... the thought that they could be trapped here... it’s unbearable.” House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin A. Craig, is so different from anything I have read. This book is gripping and eerie, and for me was so hard to put down. It was a story where I felt like I had no idea what was happening until the very end, and even then I had to rethink the entire story. Its a perfect fall or Halloween read. Parts of it had me gasping in shock and it has those creepy vibes. And it is definitely a story that will stick with me. I give this book 5 full stars and I am hoping the author continues this story at some point as I would love to learn more bout this world.
NovelKnight 4 months ago
That moment when a book kills it with the horror-esque fantasy atmosphere but can’t sell me on the protagonist. . . House of Salt and Sorrows was definitely not what I expected for a re-telling of the 12 Dancing Princesses. I was warned prior to reading that it wasn’t as much a fantasy as it was a creepy paranormal story that reminded me quite a bit of Crimson Peak in that regard. The mystery, the haunting vibes, unsolved deaths, and a romance flung in the middle? Definitely an excellent choice if you’re fond of the gothic romance movie. Craig sold me on the whole world and general concept of the book, but I wasn’t really on board with how everything played out. A lot of that came down to the protagonist, Annaleigh. First, there are a lot of characters in this book, which I expected since it’s a re-telling and there needed to be the 12 sisters at least, not counting other supporting characters. But Annaleigh blended in with the rest. She didn’t have a strong enough voice to stand out against the other characters. Nor did I ever really connect with her as the point of view perspective. Any of the older sisters would have worked and it wouldn’t have made a difference to the story. Second, as I was already disconnected from Annaleigh, I couldn’t buy into the romance subplot. There’s a hint of a love triangle (which I’m glad didn’t happen) but the rival love interest bit played out for too long. And the romance that did happen felt like major insta-lust to insta-love. I didn’t believe it for a second and, to be perfectly honest, it ruined the story for me. I don’t think it was necessary. But I did really enjoy the writing style. There were times I was sucked into the mystery and needed to figure out what happened next. Granted, I also put the book down just as many times because I wasn’t engaged with Annaleigh’s character on her own. I preferred the scenes where the other characters were more involved. The story moved at a decent pace and I didn’t feel like there were too many lulls in the plot itself. While the twists weren’t terribly unpredictable, I still enjoyed them as they happened, and I really liked the overall concept for a 12 Dancing Princesses re-telling. But I hated the ending. If House of Salt and Sorrows had just ended with that last chapter, I would have been perfectly happy (or at least mostly happy). But then Craig tacked on a mushy ending that felt unnecessary and so. . . off from the rest of the book that it felt more like wish fulfillment than necessary to the story. I’d have rather seen some of the epilogue woven into the last chapter, if anything, and the rest cut off. But that’s neither here nor there. I liked this book well enough, and probably would have liked it even more without the romance subplot and epilogue. House of Salt and Sorrows is definitely a solid book and I look forward to more from this author in the future.
HugsandKissesforBooks 4 months ago
Mesmerizing cover and enchanting story! House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig is a young adult fantasy full of tragedy. A large family, living in an estate by the sea, continues to lose family members. Several sisters and their mother die from a variety of causes. Verity, one of Annaleigh’s younger sisters, sees the deceased siblings as ghosts, who are injured according to how they died. Verity sketches what she sees but doesn’t seem frightened by the injured ghosts. Annaleigh is adamant that someone killed Eulalie because suspicion surrounds her death. On and on this tragedy continues and the sisters become confused about what’s really happened and what are illusions. The sisters love each other and have been close so the losses are tearing them apart. Annaleigh learns about a Trickster who causes chaos and she tries to figure out who called the Trickster and made a selfish deal, ending in ripping their family into pieces. Full of fantasy and mystery, this book weaves a beautifully written tale of enchantment, 5 stars! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration and all opinions and thoughts are my own.
QuirkyCat 5 months ago
House of Salt and Sorrows is the debut novel of Erin A. Craig, but don’t let that reduce your expectations any. House of Salt and Sorrows is a deeply complex and emotional piece of work – one that’ll chill you to your bones. House of Salt and Sorrows is a retelling – yet another in a huge list following this trend. But it stands out for me, turning itself into something wholly new and different. Here it follows the tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, though you might know it by another name (it goes by many). This novel follows Annaleigh Thaumas, one of the Thaumas dozen. Well, one of the ones that are left, at least. If you believe the townsfolk, she and her sisters are cursed – though nobody quite knows why. Annaleigh is determined to find the cause of her sisters’ deaths, before she loses any more of the ones she loves. But what will she dig up in the process? House of Salt and Sorrow blends young adult with fantasy, adding a dash of a thriller element for good measure. It’s a perfect balance of the three, and held my attention from start to finish. Warnings: Warnings: House of Salt and Sorrows lives up to its name. It has some heavier elements to the novel, including (but not limited to), mentions of suicide, infant death, graphic deaths, and body descriptions. House of Salt and Sorrows was everything I had hoped it would be – and then so much more. I loved everything about this novel, even the parts that occasionally broke my heart. Annaleigh’s journey was beautifully written and so compelling. I simply couldn’t put the book down until I was finished. With a title like House of Salt and Sorrows, you already know to expect it to be at least a little bit depressing. And this novel didn’t let me down on that account. But it was more than that as well. It was intricate and beautiful and mysterious, all in one. The world in this novel was so detailed that it felt real. In fact, it almost felt historical, thanks to all of the details and the tone of the novel itself. It was the perfect setting for Annaleigh and her sisters. Speaking of, her sisters (while many) were all unique and clearly well thought out. They all fit together as a family unit – but more than that, they were all unique enough where they didn’t have to be considered ‘Annaleigh’s sister’ in order to fit into the plot. I loved Annaleigh’s journey to find the truth of what happened to her sisters. Well, really it started with the focus on one sister. But over time, things changed. The truth was revealed or obfuscated at every twist and turn. It’s no wonder Anneleigh found herself so confused. Erin A. Craig wove this mystery perfectly. It was not given away at the start, but she dropped enough hints and pieces along the way that when the final reveal was made, it made complete and total sense. I absolutely love that. One thing I failed to mention earlier – there’s also a love story that occurs within these pages. It blended in well with the mystery and tension of the series. At times it gave relief, and at other times it added to the concern and stress of the tale. In short, it was perfect. House of Salt and Sorrows was a brilliant read. One that made me sad to see it end. I’m truly looking forward to seeing what else Erin A. Craig comes out with. And I promise I’ll try to be patient waiting for news.
Kaleena 5 months ago
I’ve been trying to find the words necessary to write this review for almost two weeks, but words cannot express how much I loved House of Salt and Sorrows. This debut Gothic fantasy is masterfully crafted, hauntingly atmospheric, and full of magic and love. I devoured my eARC in one sitting and stayed up until 4am to finish reading it. I will be instantly buying any of Craig’s future books. Craig’s writing is captivatingly descriptive without overburdening itself. Her descriptions are so vivid that I truly felt like I was watching a movie in my head while reading. The mood and Gothic atmosphere creep into her word choices, sweeping me away. Also: I want a pair (or twelve) of those fairy shoes. “We are born of the Salt, we live by the Salt, and to the Salt we return.” I was swept away immediately by this retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Brothers Grimm. The worldbuilding is masterful. The book begins with a funeral, and three pages in I was fully immersed into the world that Craig crafted. You get a true sense of the beliefs and history of the characters without it ever feeling like an info-dump. “Sickly-sweet incense still danced through the room but couldn’t quite block out the tang of salt. No matter where you were on the island, you could always taste the sea.” The home feels so lived in and full of love despite all the heartbreak and loss the family’s endured. If you enjoy stories centered on sibling relationships, you will love House of Salt and Sorrows. The sisters and their relationship with one another gave me Little Women vibes in the best of ways. Their love for one another shines on the page, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t poke fun at one another or get annoyed. “At least we’ll always have each other. Sisters and friends till the end. Promise me.” There are a lot of characters but each of them feel distinct and as real as you or I. I felt strongly connected to Annaleigh and her sisters: Camille’s responsibility as heir and desire to find a partner, the Grace’s excitement for their debut and the next chapter in their lives, Verity’s childlike wonder. I found myself loving them completely and anxious about their well-being while reading. “The euphoria was tangible: I could taste it in the air, the sweetness coating my mouth and going straight to my head like champagne.” I found the book to be equally driven by the characters and plot. I was simply mesmerized by the story and interested in what would happen next, but I was equally invested in the well-being of the characters. I found the pacing and build perfect, but it does take some time for the story to get to the nightly dancing. I was so invested in the characters and world that honestly, I would have read just a boring Day in the Life narrative and found it interesting. There are layers of complexity to the story: love and heartache for those they’ve lost, a desire to move on, the town’s fear of the curse, the nightly balls the girls attend. The tension (and sorrow) is absolutely palpable as the mystery unfolds, and honestly, it gets quite creepy! I was so immersed in the story and there are some truly nightmare fueling moments. If you aren’t a fan of hauntingly spooky stories, you might
Morgan_S 5 months ago
When I heard this was a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, I knew I needed this book. The Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale is my absolute favorite to hear retold. This cover is also so beautiful and fits the darkness of the book. This book was definitely not what I was expecting, but in most ways that wasn't a bad thing. Here is what I loved: the relationships between the sisters were well fleshed out. Normally, when there are 12 princesses involved, it's hard to give each of them personalities and a place in the story, but this author made the choice from the onset that four of the sisters would already be dead. This gave her more room to explore the remaining 8 and their relationships with each other. I also liked that this time around, the oldest sister wasn't the one telling the story, as is often the case in other retellings. It also made me curious as to why the writer chose Annaleigh to be the storyteller, which I would love to ask if I get the chance to go to one of the author's events! I think the only downside is that for some reason I was not fully invested in Annaleigh. I suppose I had questions about her older sister Camille that I thought Annaleigh herself should be asking, which would have given more depth to her character (such as why Camille does not take on the responsibilities she has as eldest instead of dumping them on Annaleigh). In a lot of ways, this was different from all other Twelve Dancing Princesses retellings I have read. The atmosphere of the book was perfect. The ocean, the isolation of the island, the gods and goddesses worshipped who also work and travel among the humans, and the shadow of the past that haunts the Thaumas family gave this book an eerie darkness and fantastical quality that other retellings of the Grimm fairytale have not taken advantage of. However, I think it is important to understand going into the story that the gods and goddesses do play an active role, because if you think they are only there to be worshipped, once you get farther into the story you might be confused by the sudden importance of these characters. I think the visions aspect and sightings of "ghosts" added a great deal to this story. It's hard to talk about without giving anything away, so I'll just say wow, I really liked where this plot took that. It was something that's never been done before with this story, and I liked that we were experiencing the craziness along with Annaleigh. Really, I only have a couple issues with the book, and they deal with the love interest and lack of dancing. I expected there to be MORE dancing. Since it was marketed as a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, I expected there to be a lot. There were times Annaleigh didn't go with her sisters, and because of that we didn't get to experience the dancing, either. Secondly (and more importantly), the love interest was instant-attraction without Annaleigh knowing anything about him. The fact that she fell for him so quickly, especially since she seemed like the pragmatic one of the group, didn't make sense. I expected her to be more wary of the stranger, but she trusted him almost immediately. I would have liked more build-up to their relationship. All in all though, this is going on my list of books I would like to reread as one of my Twelve Dancing Princesses-retelling staples!!
GracewBooks 5 months ago
First I would like to say Thank You to Netgalley and the Publisher for the ARC of this lovely book. To start, I want to say how absolutely gorgeous I thought this book cover! I love the story of the 12 Dancing princesses and really enjoyed seeing the parallels between this book and that fairytale! I am not usually a fan of horror, suspense but I found that I really enjoyed it in this book There were romance and action, and a mystery to be solved. This was a unique take on a story that doesn't get many retellings and I am so happy I got a chance to read it.
TeresaReviews 5 months ago
A huge thank you to NetGalley, Erin A. Craig, and Random House Children's for the opportunity to read House of Salt and Sorrows in exchange for an honest review. First and foremost, an absolutely charming and exquisite debut novel! What a talent for writing that already has me intrigued as to what Craig will craft next! Inspired by "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," House of Salt and Sorrows is told from the first-person perspective of Annaleigh Thaumas, one of twelve daughters to Ortun, Duke of Highmoor, a glorious manor by the sea. The catch is, Annaleigh creeps closer and closer to becoming the heir, because her sisters keep dying. The locals call it the Thaumas curse, and the daughters can't help but feel lost hope, seeing the constant death as a curse themselves. The novel opens with the funeral of Eulalie, but Ava, Elizabeth, and Octavia have already been lost, leaving eight of the twelve sisters still alive. To top things off, their mother died after giving birth to their youngest, and Ortun has a new wife, already pregnant with hopes her child will be a son to inherit Highmoor instead of the current eldest daughter, Camille. On the islands, though, daughters can inherit, no questions asked.  I love the gentile political aspect of this novel as well as the mystery of the sister's deaths, for Annaleigh begins digging around and very shortly suspects that her sisters were murdered. But the sisters have mourned for a year after the death's of each of their siblings, putting their lives on hold to mourn as society dictates. When the girls decide to host a ball and move on with their lives days after Eulalie is sent to the salt, they finally learn the joys of dancing and parties. As Annaleigh seeks the truth of her sister's deaths, she learns of a myth that the sea god Pontus uses a doorway to travel anywhere instantly. She makes a game out of this for her sister's, but when they actually find this doorway, they use it to go to balls across the land, dancing through pairs and pairs of shoes. But some sort of strangeness beyond mortal comprehension is behind everything. As much as I want to say more and could go on and on about Annaleigh, I cannot, or the allure of reading this whimsical book will be lost. A few things to note: the cover is absolutely gorgeous. Brilliantly well-done to give off both a haunting allure, but also filled with high-class. Also, the name Annaleigh is similar to Poe's Annabel Lee. Coincidence? I thought the connection was fun and creepy, very fitting for this novel full of murder by the sea. A book I would highly recommend to teen readers, those who love a good mystery with an otherworldly twist, lovers of retellings, or even Jane Austen fans (a vibe I personally felt with this novel and loved). One of the best book releases of 2019!
book_junkee 5 months ago
I was sucked in by that synopsis and the cover and couldn’t wait to get to this story. I liked Annaleigh. She’s tenacious and loyal and so full of love for her family. I truly loved being in her head. I was a bit concerned at the idea of 12 sisters and keeping them straight in my head, but each had a unique personality. Plot wise, it was so very slow to start. I spent a good third of the book enjoying the atmosphere, but also sort of bored and wondering if I should continue. Thankfully, I kept going because I do love an unreliable narrator and that’s what this morphed into. Overall, it was a story that kept me guessing until the very end with an epilogue than couldn’t have been done any better. **Huge thanks to Delacorte Press for providing the arc free of charge**
Persephonereads 5 months ago
4 out of 5 stars Thank you to Netgalley and Delacourt for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I love a good retelling and this is definitely a good one. This is a retelling of the classic fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses". This is a Gothic retelling of the tale told through the POV of Annaleigh one of the middle of twelve sisters. The family resides at Highnmoor Manor on an Island and one by one each sister is found dead. Each death more tragic than the last one. Everyone believes that there is a curse upon the family and basically the sisters are just waiting to see who will die next. Annaleigh has gotten to the point that she can't even cry anymore as she continues to lose her sisters. After all of the grief Annaleigh's step Mother suggest they start living again instead of always being in mourning. Annaleigh is not sure that this is something that she wants to do but for the sake of her sisters she decides to try. But, she also is determined to find out if the family really is cursed. This is a beautiful and sad tale with a lovely creepy, Gothic vibe. Darkness around every corner. I really enjoyed this novel!