Thursday, May 6, 2021

Review: HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS by Erin A. Craig

Rating: 2/5 stars

House of Salt and Sorrows is about twelve sisters who mysteriously start dying one by one so that now everyone thinks the family is cursed. We follow the POV of one of the sisters, named Annaleigh, as she’s trying to figure out what’s going on. 

I don’t know anything about the Twelve Dancing Sisters fairy tale, so I can’t speak to how well it followed that story as a retelling, but I will say that I didn’t really care for this story in general. 

I tend to not like books that center around the ocean or take place on a boat for whatever reason, so I was worried that that aspect would cause me to enjoy this novel less, but that was actually the least of my problems here as there really wasn’t much reference to the ocean. They live on an island so the ocean is all around them and they send dead bodies out to sea, but that’s really it. 

Most of my problems with this book relate to the ending so I can’t talk about them without giving away the ending. As such, the rest of this review will have SPOILERS

I didn’t like how we had an INCREDIBLY unreliable narrator, but we didn’t even know as much until the ending. I really didn’t like how something would be revealed and then a few pages later would actually be revealed to be false because of an illusion. And then the new info would be revealed to be false again a few more pages later. And then the false thing was actually real. It got so confusing! It got to the point where I couldn’t trust anything because I had no idea what was real and what wasn’t, so I was just pushing through to the end so I could know the answers. 

For example, the situation with Cassius. He was real. Then he was made up and was a figment of Annaleigh’s imagination. And then she saw him again so he was real again and the spell was on all the OTHER girls so that they didn’t see him. Wait, what? How do I know Annaleigh’s still not just seeing things and Cassius is still not real? She didn’t know what was real, none of the sisters knew what was real, and I didn’t know what was real either.

I also didn’t like that the villain changed throughout the story. For a while, we thought it was Annaleigh herself, and then her dead sisters’ ghosts. Then it was Cassius for a bit, then it was Kosamaras, then it was Morella. It just got so confusing who was actually behind the various deaths and who was causing what to happen to the sisters. 

I felt emotionally detached from the story for most of the book, but when these wonky reveals started happening at the end, I felt even more disconnected from the story.

Ultimately, I thought this book was way more convoluted and confusing than it needed to be, and that really hindered my enjoyment of it. It starts off as a nice but dark story about twelve sisters who are dying one by one and Annaleigh trying to discover if they’ve been murdered and why. That sounds like an interesting premise. I thought maybe the sisters were killing each other in some weird succession game, but no. I still don’t really know how this book ended, but I honestly don’t really care to go back through the book and find out. The introduction of an unreliable narrator that made the reader not be able to trust or care about ANYTHING going on in the story was the real downfall here, unfortunately. This book had a strong start but a weak and forgettable ending. 

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