House of Salt and Sorrows by 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.
This one might be a bit tough for me to review. House of Salt and Sorrows is a pretty slow paced book. I generally struggle with those and didn’t always want to pick this up. But there were parts where I didn’t want to put it down. The writing was beautiful and I loved the setting so much. There were some weird things and I never knew what was real and what wasn’t. But I’m guessing that was the point.
Annaleigh’s father has a huge house and all daughters. Usually, a male heir would take over, but not where they live. They are the people of The Salt. When someone dies, they are returned to the water. They only have one God there, but other lands have multiple Gods that they worship. Pontus is the God for the people of The Salt. Annaleigh’s father remarries after his wife died, but the woman wasn’t from The Salt. She seemed confused that while she was sure she was pregnant with a boy, he would be last in line to inherit the home. She struggles to understand their traditions, especially mourning for a full year after someone dies. The family was in constant morning because they were “cursed”. The Thaumas family had twelve daughters. But the oldest daughters were dying off one by one.
We are born of the Salt, we live by the Salt, and to the Salt we return.
Annaleigh starts to question her sister, Eulalie’s death. She begins to believe she was murdered. Especially after finding out the secrets she kept from her sisters. Annaleigh meets a young man named Cassius and she finds herself very attracted to him. Her sister Camille is the next in line, but if Camille dies, Annaleigh will have to marry and stay at the home. Morella convinces her husband that the morning needed to end. They decide to have a ball for the triplets birthday. They got new dresses and fancy dancing shoes. Everything started to change. Their old friend, Fisher, was even back. Things seem to be going ok, but the youngest daughter, Verity, starts seeing ghosts. She draws pictures of her dead sisters. Things she has never seen. After some time, Annaleigh sees them, too. This makes her think that maybe they were all murdered.
Things start to get weirder when they find a door to a secret passageway of the Gods. The girls enter and they end up at a ball somewhere far away. Each time they go in, they end up a different places. They start to become obsessed with dancing. So much so that they are out all night and exhausted the next day. Annaleigh feels something is wrong, so she doesn’t go as often. She cannot convince her sisters to stay home, especially Camille.
Annaleigh starts seeing even more. At the balls, too. Things are not right, but how can she convince her family? They believe she’s going crazy. Only Cassius seems to believe her. By this point, I was questioning what was real and what wasn’t. Was Annaleigh going crazy? Were the sisters? Was there really a curse and why did they keep dying off?
We do find out the answers at the end, but it felt a bit rushed compared to the rest of the book. I wasn’t thrilled with the ending, but I didn’t hate it either. I was torn on my rating because of this and decided to go with 4 stars. I liked the strange story and the writing.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy for review.
Warnings for death, possible suicide, dead animals, blood, childbirth, death of children/babies, mental health questions, ghosts, and some gory scenes.
Have you read House of Salt and Sorrows? Is it on your TBR?