Title: House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Release Date: August 6th 2019
*I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley which does not influence my review*
TW: mention of suicide, stillbirth
- Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling – There are multiple Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White retellings, but I’ve always been partial to the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Erin A. Craig’s interpretation of the tale is familiar enough for those who enjoy the original, but takes plenty of liberties that will keep readers on their toes.
- The mystery – House of Salt and Sorrows is more plot-based than character-driven and while I usually gravitate toward the latter, I became really invested in the mystery surrounding the deaths of the Thaumas’s daughters.
- Horror elements – I did not expect this one to get so dark, but the lead character Annaleigh has strange nightmares, is troubled by the chilling things her younger sister shares with her about their dead sisters, and eventually begins to see apparitions with nefarious intentions.
- The world-building (for the most part) – While I would argue that the novel could have delved deeper when it came to world-building, there were several elements that I really enjoyed including the mythology of this world.
- Character development – I really wanted to see the characters in the novel grow more, but it never really felt like any of them necessarily changed throughout the course of the novel.
- The first half – I ended up liking the second-half of the novel a whole lot more than the first. It’s not a slow start, but nothing in the first half made it stand out for me and I kept comparing it to the masterpiece that is Juliet Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing, my personal favorite Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling.
- Annaleigh’s romance arc – I go back and forth between whether I liked where the author took this storyline or whether it just fell flat for me. On one hand, it felt very fairytale-esque with Annaleigh’s first meeting her love interest and eventually finding out there’s more to him than meets the eye, but on the other hand, I’m not sure this part of his story completely made sense to the narrative.
- Didn’t always feel consistent – I mentioned both the horror elements and the mythology of this world. The problem was these two didn’t always feel like they were part of the same world. With a few changes, I think this would have worked better as a horror novel rather than leaning into the fantastical aspects.
Erin A. Craig’s House of Salt and Sorrow is a solid retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, but it is the dark and morose elements rather than the fantastical that had me wishing it hadn’t tried so hard to straddle two genres.