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 wasn't very familiar with the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, but the synopsis of House of Salt and Sorrows sucked me in. It sounded so moody, so dark--plus there was the Mysterious Handsome Stranger. I was so excited to receive an ARC of this gorgeous book, especially after I had a chance to see her speak at an event here in Memphis at one of my favorite book stores.
House of Salt and Sorrows is Erin A Craig's debut, which I found a little surprising! The world building is so intricate, and the relationships between the sisters is so lovely, and all the characters feel so well formed and distinct. The things that made it feel a little "debut," I loved. It didn't feel plotted to death, there are incredibly surprising twists and turns that left me breathless and frantically turning the pages.
This book really has it all--intrigue, mystery, romance, horror, suspense, fantasy, family drama. Just when you think you've figured out where the book is going, the path changes and you're somewhere you never expected to end up, unsure who to trust. The last half of the book is especially engrossing and fast paced.
The only downside for me is I think it's a little too slow at the beginning, and a little too quick at the end. A lot of loose ends are tied up within a chapter or two, while other questions are left unanswered forever.
Should you read it? If you're a sucker for a gorgeous retelling (even of a story you're not super familiar with), and dig books that make you feel like you're losing it a little, you should definitely check out House of Salt and Sorrows.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Published August 6, 2019 by Delacorte