Author: Erin A. Craig
Published: August 6th, 2019 by Delacorte
Genres: young adult, retellings, fantasy
Format: eARC, 416 pages
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 received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you!) in exchange for my honest review.
I’ve been extremely lucky with most of the books I’ve been reading this year so far. A lot of them are SUPER good, and this gem was no exception! I knew two things when I requested this book on NetGalley. One, the cover was literally to die for. Two, it was a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale. I also did not know two things. One, I did not know how the cover entwined with the story, because it definitely gave me mermaid vibes. Two, I was not really familiar with the Twelve Dancing Princesses tale, but I love retellings, so I wanted to give it a shot.
Annaleigh and her family are laying another one of her sisters to rest. Death has claimed four sisters, and Annaleigh is beginning to believe that coincidence has nothing to do with it. Annaleigh is one of the many daughters of a duke who has remarried, and just one day after Eulalie’s death, their stepmother insists on replacing the mourning garb with colors and convinces their father to buy them new shoes. Everyone in the family is tired of being seen as “cursed” because of the deaths that overtake their family, but at the same time, it feels wrong to end the mourning period so suddenly… even if they’ve been mourning for months and months.
I instantly got a Gothic sea vibe, and I will admit to liking that very, very much. This novel ignited a feeling of spookiness that I did not at all anticipate. And Annaleigh, to me, was a great main character, if only for one reason: she was an unreliable narrator. That is my favorite!
We follow the tale of Annaleigh and her sisters as the mourn by day, and dance by night after they find a magical door that takes them to far away palaces hosting extravagant balls with handsome men. But the more Annaleigh is looking into her sister’s tragic death, the more often she is being disturbed by ghastly hallucinations. Is she going crazy? And why is one of her younger sisters drawing portraits of her dead sisters, especially in ways that she should have no knowledge of? Annaleigh also meets a handsome stranger named Cassius, but she can’t help but start to suspect everyone as she slowly starts to spiral into madness. As a reader, you’re not sure what to believe, but you begin to understand that something sinister is hidden in the details.
House of Salt and Sorrows was a perfect blend of eerie and magical, and the author created haunting scenes that have stuck with me months after reading this book! And in case you were wondering, no – mermaids play no role in this novel, but the sea themes are strong in this one!