Snapshot (ARC) Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Title: House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Series: N/A
Pages: 426
Publisher: Delacorte
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

      “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.”

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  • 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 mysteryHouse 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.


Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, #3

As the marriage union between Queen Levana, ruler of Luna, and Emperor Kaito, leader of the Eastern Commonwealth, approaches Cinder and her friends race to find a way to survive being hunted by the evil queen and stop the impending nuptials. The group begins to suspect that the forced marriage is only a prelude to a nefarious plan to bring all of Earth under Levana’s rule. When the crew aboard the Rampion attempts to connect with Cress, a new ally on a lone satellite, everything goes awry and the group is separated. Now Cinder must continue to press on and accept who she really is if there is any hope for saving both Earth and reclaiming her rightful place on Luna.

“Though Cress screamed and kicked, Sybil managed to drag her all the way back to the satellite’s main room, tossing her like a bag of broken android parts on the floor.

The door shut behind them, dividing her from the exit, from her freedom, and with its familiar clang she knew.

She would never be free.”

Like Cinder and Scarlet, Marissa Meyer takes a fairytale protagonist and reintroduces her in her Lunar Chronicles series. Cress, like Rapunzel, has been trapped in a tower-like cage for years. Forced to be the eyes and ears of one of Queen Levana’s right-hand women, Cress has been isolated from any real contact for seven years. In order to survive this lonely life, she finds comfort in her many fantasies. One of these fantasies includes being swept off her feet by the dashing Captain Carswell Thorne. When she finally meets him, all her grand ideas go out the window. I loved seeing how the sweet and innocent Cress dealt with being thrust into a world entirely alien to her. I think this book functions as an introduction into her character rather than one solely focused on her. She has a lot to learn and though she may not seem as strong as the other two female protagonists, I think she has a lot to offer and look forward to seeing her character grow even more in the next book.

Cress also serves to bring a secondary character to the forefront: Carswell Thorne. The sometimes arrogant, often irresistible, fugitive pilot is forced into a challenging situation. While once upon a time, Thorne might have taken advantage of the fact that a young beautiful woman was in love with him, with Cress he is different. At the end of their journey, he’s incredibly protective of her and though he doesn’t think there is anything to himself but selfishness, this new relationship proves otherwise.

Since finding out who she really is, Cinder has been struggling to accept her past and the future that seems imminent. She never expected to have the entire world thrust upon her shoulders and in Cress it seems she’s finally accepted that stopping Levana hinges on accepting she is the only person capable of doing so. This third book gives us a brief introduction to Princess Winter, who will be the focus of the next book in the series, and I’m extremely intrigued by her and am excited for Marissa Meyer’s next book.

Rating: 4/5