{ Review } House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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“Nights like this were meant to be shared, remembered, and talked about for years. Skies like this were meant to be kissed under.”

Read in August 2019

My Rating: 1.5 of 5 stars


I seldom give a bad rating to a book, actually in my reading life, I only gave a rating of 1,5 star or less to 8 other books out of the 400 I read. I find that 1-star ratings are harsh and can be disrespectful for the author’s work, thus all the 1-star rating I gave so far were motivated by strong reasons. For instance, I gave 1 star to a book that are flat out copies of something that actually already exists, or to a book that uses rape to give its MC depth, but never because it was just profoundly bad. And, since it was my most anticipated summer release, I’m the first one surprised to tell you House of Salt and Sorrows brought “bad” and “boring” to a whole other level. I’ll try to review this book while staying as polite as possible and without repeating myself, but if you liked this book and don’t want to read a negative review about it I would understand.


House of Salt and Sorrows is a retelling of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale that is called The Twelve Dancing Princesses, also known as The Worn-out Dancing Shoes, a tale I knew nothing about a few weeks ago but that I read before actually starting this book. Well, let me tell you that the stories have nothing in common except that there are (initially) twelve sisters in the book. As soon as their mother died in childbirth, the row of deaths began, starting with the oldest Ava who died of the plague, then Octavia fell from a ladder and broke her neck, Elizabeth drowned in her bathtub and the last one, Eulalie, fell from a cliff. The story begins when the remaining sisters, the now heir Camille, the narrator Annaleigh, the sixteen-years-old triplets; Rosalie, Liegia and Lenore and finally the three youngest Mercy, Honor and Verity, also called ‘The Graces’ are attending Eulalie’s funeral.

“As they whispered their strained condolences, I noticed the guests were careful to not get too close. Was it in deference to our station, or were they worried something might rub off? I wanted to chalk it up to the lowbrow superstition, but as a distant aunt approached me, a thin smile on her thin lips, the same question lingered in her eyes, just below the surface, impossible to miss: Which one of us would be next?”

The first thing that bothered me is that the Thaumas girls, who just lost another sister, seem more bummed that they have to start the grieving process all over again – one year of wearing black and staying home – than they are about their sister’s actual death. Honestly, we’re at chapter one and I already don’t believe the so-called unbreakable sister bound that the narrator says is supposed to link them. After a whim from their stepmother, Morella, who is pregnant, their father Ortum allows the girls not only to stop their mourning and prepares to host a ball for the triplets’ birthday. And they are ecstatic about it. He also buys them a full new closet of coloured clothes as well as high-quality expensive dancing shoes to catch up for lost-time (because time being sad for their sisters’/daughters’ deaths was apparently ‘lost’).


I’m okay with the fact that grieving will not bring the dead back, but maybe wait more than a full day to start showing lack of decency. Another thing that bothers the sisters more than the mourning period? Being told that they are cursed. And damned be their sisters for dying every time and reviving that curse talk. You see, being cursed is not good for husband prospects and since everyone seems to be avoiding them, they really don’t know how to find a suitable man to marry. Only Fisher, Annaleigh’s best friend still spends time with them and he is poor, so no husband material. That’s when the girls discover a magical doorway that takes them to a magical palace where they can dance all night long and where people don’t know about them or their curse.

“Nestled on a bed of navy velvet were my shoes. I’d selected a jade leather, and the cobbler had added glittering seafoam and silver bits, concentrated heavily at the toes, then fading as they swept across the slipper. They would match my gown perfectly.”

Annaleigh, who is now nineteen, is the only one who seemed feeling bad for stopping the grieving process so soon (and only because ‘if Eulalie could see us having fun she would be mad because she couldn’t when our other sisters died’). After meeting a stranger and having literally one conversation with him, she is now convinced that Eulalie’s death wasn’t an accident. Then she goes to everyone she meets, telling how her sister was murdered without any proof, tries to find the killer… for about 2 pages and then she forgets about it. It’s much more fun to dance through the sole of their shoes every night in mystical balls, isn’t it?


Annaleigh was incredibly weak and passive, going along with the plot and, like all her sisters, she was so bland and useless. I found the characterization lazy since the Triplets and the Graces could have been one character since they always spoke in unison and agreed on everything, and therefore I couldn’t care for any of them. Both the character-building and the world-building were jokes and had nothing to get my attention, The romance was absolutely unnecessary and cringes worthy as Annaleigh was “immediately drawn” to Cassius and their “connection was instantaneous”, which actually screams ‘instalove’ and with no alchemy whatsoever and mysterious side of the love interest ended up being underwhelming. The icing on the cake, I found many parts of the story to be sexists.

“Flushed with starlight and moonlight drowned,
All the dreamers are castle-bound.
At midnight’s stroke, we will unwind,
Revealing fantasies soft or unkind.
Show me debauched nightmares or sunniest daydreams.
Come not as you are but as you wish to be seen.”

I need to say something about that ending of my review wouldn’t be complete. The villain was a joke, the story went so many different directions that the ending required some massive deus ex machina to be (unpleasantly) resolved. Cassius’ involvement at the end was confusing and it showed once again how the world-building lacked explaining. To be honest, I think I’ve never said that, but if you can avoid wasting your time on this book, please do.

 

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Have you read or will you read this book?
What did you think about it?

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French Book Blogger and avid reader 📚 - YA, Adult, NA, Fantasy, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance -, LGBT & disability rep 🏳️‍🌈, Ravenclaw Potterhead △⃒⃘, English teacher 👩🏼‍🏫 living to travel 🌍, proud mom of Padfoot 🐕 and Juniper 🐈

13 thoughts on “{ Review } House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

  1. That’s such a shame how disappointed you were. It seems like the author just jumps around a lot from what I’ve read with your review and other reviews. I also don’t like when a sensitive or important topic appears and then it’s just dismissed … like it never happened or isn’t important anymore. I had that happen with a few books this year and got REALLY annoyed.

    Still a great review though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: A-Z Authors

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