Sometimes I find five star reads harder to review than books I didn’t enjoy as much. It’s easy to give an in depth review when you have a lot of issues to talk about. I’m currently struggling with this problem thanks to House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig. I absolutely adore this book and I don’t want to spoil it but I still want to give you all a good review. I’m going to attempt to do that, without spoilers, after the synopsis.
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 went into this book knowing nothing more than what the synopsis told me and that it was based on the fairytale, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” It had been a hot minute since I read that fairytale as a small child so I remembered nothing about it. I decided to read it once I finished the book and after doing so, I’m even more in love with this story. Craig somehow turned a children’s tale into a creepy and atmospheric fantasy.
House of Salt and Sorrows is a mixture of genres. It’s primarily a fantasy set in a fictional Victorian-esque world that has its own religion, customs, etc. The majority of the story takes place on an island by the ocean. Thanks to the fantastic world building and descriptive writing, I truly felt like I was there. Everything from the different settings to what was happening with the characters was easy to visualize. I never had to wonder what the main character, Annaleigh, was seeing or hearing. Speaking of seeing and hearing, let’s discuss the horror in this book.
I wouldn’t necessarily call this a horror story but it is creepy to the max. It included something that I’m personally freaked out by… doppelgangers/shapeshifters. This is basically when you see or interact with someone you know but then you realize that person couldn’t have actually been with you at that moment because you see or find out that they were elsewhere. What, or who, were you actually interacting with? *shivers* Along with that, there are some semi graphic descriptions of animal and human bodies after death. This wasn’t personally scary to me but it is gruesome.
There were also moments of unreliable narration where the book would make you second guess what you KNEW to be true. It was so well done and not once was I able to predict what was going to happen next. It added to the feeling of dread and the creepiness.
There’s only one thing about this book that I wasn’t totally crazy about… the instalove. I prefer for romance and relationships to build naturally and this book really hurried it along. I did like the romantic aspect, I just wish it would’ve been a little more fleshed out. However, I’m still giving this book five stars because the instalove didn’t bother me enough not to.
Surprisingly, this was Erin A. Craig’s debut novel. If her first book was this good, I can’t wait to see what she writes in the future. If you’re in the mood for some creepy fantasy, pick up this book. Now I want to hear from you guys! Does this book sound like one you’d enjoy? Thanks for reading and have a great day!
I created this look inspired by the book cover with my custom single shadows palette. I’m planning to review this palette soon but until then, you can see what I used on my Instagram.