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.
Annaleigh Thaumas is the sixth born sister of a dozen siblings; all of which are girls. The Thaumas family live in a manor by the sea called Highmoor. When tragedy strikes their family, yet again, rumours have it that the Thaumas Dozen are cursed. The girls only form of escapism comes at midnight when they attend luxurious balls, where they dance the night away. However, it does not take long for Annaleigh to suspect all is not as it seems, in conjunction with their rumoured curse, the Thaumas sisters dance down a dark path.
House of Salt and Sorrows is part mystery, part fantasy, part romance that combine to make one of the most atmospheric reads of 2019.
Have you guessed? I loved this book. I didn’t go into this expecting a 5 star read; I didn’t even expect that at the half way point either. This is that book that grows and grows on you, and worked its way into my bookworm heart.
The first noticeable thing worth praising was the book’s strong beginning: it promised family drama, superstition and scandal that piqued my intrigue off the charts. Honestly, one of the best feelings when starting a book is when the opening chapter makes you excited for more.
Before I started reading this, I was worried about the twelve siblings before I started reading this, and was pleasantly surprised yet equally disappointed. I was nervous the author wouldn’t get the balance right of how much attention each sister should get, which wasn’t actually much of a problem. However, I would say, the sisters (beyond Annaleigh and Verity) slightly blended together with no distinct personalities. Camille and Rosalie more or less felt like the same character.
But I adored our main gal, Annaleigh, because of how strong willed she was in her convictions. She’s easily described as headstrong at times, but she was equally determined for all the right reasons. And I actually really liked the subtle romance in the story… it didn’t overshadow Annaleigh’s other relationships with her sister, father etc.
This has been one of the most atmospherical reads I’ve read in 2019. This drew me in with its homely vibe. When I wasn’t transported to Highmoor Manor, I desperately wanted to be. It was so vivid – the grey raincast skies, the setting of the manor, the isolated lighthouse upon the hill… In fact, the mention of a pearl ring stuck in my mind so clearly, I’m desperate for someone to make something like it.
I loved Erin A. Craig’s style of writing. Her prose has an old tone to it, that I personally find captivating and inviting. The only other authors I’ve read with a similar feel akin to this, is Madeline Miller with Circe and Laura Purcell with The Silent Companions.
I couldn’t wait to dive into this book, and I couldn’t wait to jump head first back in whenever I had to stop reading it, even when the pace began to slow at points and it felt like wading through snow; like I’d spent hours only reading a few pages – I still loved it even then!
I have to applaud Craig for also crafting her mysteries well. They’re well developed and kept close to the chest all the way to the end. Even as I got somewhat close to predicting some of it, I was still caught off guard and surprised. The combination of mystery and fantasy weaved together to create a mesmerising read was pulled off so well.
I recommend this retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses to everybody who loves atmospherical/gothic reads, full to the brim with mystery and menace. A brilliant book that’s in my top reads of 2019.
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Published August 2019
Genre: YA mystery, YA fantasy, YA fiction
P.s. don’t miss Craig’s next book ‘Small Favours’ – expected in the fall of 2021. Click here to read more!