Title: House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 416 pages
Publish Date: August 6, 2019
Death, Murder, Suicide,
Sex, Childbirth, Miscarriage,
Ghosts, Graphic Scenes, Animal Violence,
Dead Animals, Mental Health
Wow I’m so glad that I finally finished this book but like, I’m so bummed that it’s over?! Don’t you hate when that happens? Also, boo yeah for finishing the Ravenclaw book before the month was out!
Annaleigh is the second oldest sister (alive) and our MC in this story. She has never wanted to inherit her family’s estate or land or anything, and honestly she never thought about it because she was never next in line. Her dream was to work in Old Maude, the lighthouse on their island and take care of it to make sure the ships and boats travel safely. Literally, that’s what she wanted and she didn’t even get that in the beginning. She seems to have a smarter head on her shoulders than the rest of her sisters, and also seems to see things that nobody else can.
The rest of the sisters (Camille, the triplets – Rosalie, Ligeia, Lenore – and the Graces – Mercy, Honor, Verity) are more supporting cast, but they each have their own personalities and are very important to Annaleigh. These are the ones alive at the start of the novel.
Ava, Octavia, Eulalie, and Elizabeth are the sisters we don’t get to meet. Each one having died in some tragic way before the start of the book. It’s with the death of Eulalie that Annaleigh starts to wonder if they are being hunted.
Fisher and Cassius are seen as love interests for Annaleigh. Fisher is her childhood friend and Cassius is the new stranger in town that seems to capture her attention from the moment she sees him. She can’t stop thinking about wanting to feel his touch, his kiss. Even before they really got to know one another.
We begin our story at the funeral for Eulalie. Her death was a terrible one, and Annaleigh doesn’t think that it was an accident like everyone claims. Because four out of twelve of the Thaumas daughters have died one after the other – almost exactly a year apart it seems – everyone in Salann believes that they are cursed. It’s kind of hard not to agree, when you have to watch your sisters die around you and have no way to stop it.
So I don’t really remember the story about the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I just remember that for some reason, even though their dad locked them in their rooms every night, they would somehow go dancing and wear out their shoes. I don’t know what that mystery was about honestly, but I don’t think it really affected my enjoyment of the story or the plot. It was just part of it because there were twelve of them, and they do end up going to different balls every night in different far off places and wear out their shoes a lot. It’s an expensive habit, but they can’t tell their father or their stepmother because they have been sneaking out of the house to do this, and obviously that’s not good.
But since the sisters have been dying one by one, and everyone thinks they are cursed, Annaleigh wants to get to the bottom of it herself. Is her family really cursed, or is there a murderer on the island after their fortune? If they all die, there isn’t anyone left to inherit the estate. Sometimes things are just about greed and money, and other times it’s a whole different story.
The sisterhood is strong in this one. I mean, I’m glad it really is because could you imagine growing up with 11 other girls in the house? All the hormones. All the PMS. All the drama! But no, for the most part they really get along well and love each other truly. It has never been about inheritance for them, but staying together and helping one another. I really appreciate that so much in this, and how the elder girls will take care of the younger ones, making sure that they aren’t afraid of the dark or having nightmares or anything. It was just really heartwarming.
I personally liked the twist in the end because for some reason I wasn’t expecting it. Like, the cause of the curse or however you want to call it. I was so in Annaleigh’s thought process that I was just agreeing with everything she was going through and figured it out at the same time as her. The storytelling was just really great in this book. I’m kind of bummed that it’s a standalone, but it makes more sense that way. I don’t know if I could handle reading about the girls in the aftermath of everything. It wouldn’t be the same.
It’s really sad that even though these people have been in the girls lives from the beginning, they still can’t help but see the family as cursed and not want anything to do with them. You would think that after having to watch five members of their family die – notice I never said anything about their mom. She was the first to die in childbirth after the last daughter – the community would want to support them and help them grieve and heal and all that. But nope, they were superstitious bastards that would internally ask “who’s next to die”. It was gross. I felt bad for the girls.
There really wasn’t much in the story that I didn’t like, which was great. I didn’t have any other problems with it that affected my enjoyment of it.
There’s a part in this story that makes me think about someone going through a mental health episode. I don’t want to say too much about it because of spoilers, but it makes me think about the stigma that having a mental illness means that you’re crazy for some reason. Why is that though? And why can your family look at you with love in one moment, and then fear you the next? It’s just heartbreaking to read something like that, and know that you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. There’s no way to tell, and you start to doubt yourself when the rest of the world is calling you crazy.
How long is too long to be in mourning? That was one of the issues that the island had with the girls since they didn’t mourn Eulalie for the full year that they should have. They have been in mourning for five straight years, with no breaks. Do they really have to outwardly cover themselves in darkness and grief and not be allowed to enjoy some semblance of life? Was it really wrong for them to want to be happy about something? To just dance and not have to think about which sister was going to die? How can someone live like that? Why is that supposed to be okay?
Clearly I have a lot of thoughts about this book, and I don’t know if any of them are coherent honestly. I slept on this review before writing it so I could process things. I liked how it ended. I liked the journey. I didn’t LOVE seeing what the girls had to go through – obviously. Why would I want to see them deal with the death of their sisters if they don’t have to, you know? – but it was definitely worth the read. Worth the hype. The creep factor was there, and there were times where I had to look outside my door to make sure I wasn’t about to be haunted by something.
I scare myself a lot. This was just a good book.