Book Review : House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin. A Craig

Genre : Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling
Page : 403 pages
Published : 6th August 2019

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.

“We are born of the Salt, we live by the Salt, and to the Salt we return.”

Lately, I’ve been craving for fantasy reads but I’m too lazy to finished bundles of series fantasy. Instead, I’m waging on standalone fantasy. After many selections, House of Salt and Sorrow definitely got my attention.

Twelve sisters live in a manor of the sea. Sheltered and provisioned but cursed. Four sisters life are cut short, leaving eight sisters living in mourn and hollow. Annaleigh wonder if her sisters’ death are natural


You have no idea how often I come across retelling these days.

And I didn’t know if House of Salt and Sorrow turns out to be retelling as well. I just thought how similar this book is with my favourite childhood Barbie movies “Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses” where it tells the story of 12 sisters who loves dancing and often sneak out at midnight to dance.

Not until much later did I research and found out that House of Salt and Sorrow is definitely the retelling of Barbie! (Well.. The Grimm’s Brothers actually) And I might say, it done a great job in the retelling part. Of course, in a whole different concept.

The Fantasy

The setting set the manor– Highmoor , by the sea in which Annaleigh and the rest of her sisters lived by, together with her father and her stepmother. I love how beautiful the world building is and the first few chapters promised a good fantasy ahead.

I love how this book never forget it’s fantasy footing. There’s always something magical about this book even though there are no enchantment spoken. But I think the fantasy is not that enchanting as I had hope the fantasy to be.

The Mystery

Or should I say, murder mystery. Which is tragic and spooky if you pictured them inside your mind with how precise and cruel the writing is. Things starting to get excited when Annaleigh feels suspicious with all the tragic death Highmoor encounter these past few years, which determined her to find clues about the deaths.

This book is like a murder mystery fiction set in fantasy world with a teenage lady on the quest to find justice. Pretty convincing I guess, except for the not so satisfying cause on my side. Yes, it’s spooky and it’s surprising but I need more. I need a resolve that could blown my mind away after the thick murder mystery that has been going on throughout the book.

The Characters

Everything you thought about a princess I guess? Twelve sisters, twelve personalities. Except for their interest in billowy dresses and fine shoes. The thing about the characters are, it’s hard to recognized them all. I tend to forget who’s who and I need a moment to dig up my memory.

I thought it’s lacking attitude? and character development perhaps? Some even acted out of their character sometimes. This do not applied only for the sisters but also the rest of the characters.

The Romance

What about the romance? Well, I always love fantasy romance. And it’s no exception with this one.

I love the pairings but couldn’t help but notice how cringe-worthy and cheesy are the romance. I do not know if it’s written on purpose to create the dreamy-princess-romance kind of thing or not though. But it’s definitely lacking in romance even though I could feel the book is trying to depict a beautiful two souls romance.

The Plot

I think everyone must be excited to start this book. Just look at those blurb!

Fairy tale in an eerie world full of fantasy and murder mystery.

I was hooked in the beginning because it’s just so good and the mystery issues have already show up quite early. However, it’s dragging on forever. I’m not even sure to use the word ‘drag’ because I love the atmosphere this book offer and it’s comforting to read this book. But I dislike how this murder mystery issues to be left behind most of the times.

It’s like you know something is definitely wrong about the house and now you know about the murder, collecting clues (this too, often forgotten) and then nothing happen. Life goes on, the terror begin again and not until the very last moment did all the puzzles click and tried to fit the ending chapters.

It’s a very slow-burn fantasy read. But I really do love the story, with the atmosphere that could either make you eerie or comfort you. Overall, I am enjoying my reads and would recommend this book if you are looking for a relaxing read.

“What secrets of hers did this man keep?”

Author: Celine

8 thoughts on “Book Review : House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin. A Craig

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