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

I am not a fan of horror. Scary stories keep me up at night or give me nightmares, so I usually steer clear of anything spooky. I made an exception, however, for House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, which is a haunted retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”

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Once there were twelve sisters, but after four die tragically, rumors of the family being cursed begin to circulate throughout the surrounding islands. When Annaleigh sees ghostly visions of her sisters haunting the manor’s halls, she becomes convinced that they didn’t die by accident. Her remaining sisters, however, have been sneaking out to attend enchanting balls and dance their grief away. As Annaleigh searches for answers about their family’s tragedies, she begins to suspect something more sinister is at work, and everything—the balls, the deaths, her family’s history—is connected.

I almost wish House of Salt and Sorrows wasn’t pitched as a retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” fairy tale. While there are certainly aspects of the story inspired by the fairy tale, it stands as its own story. I think some readers won’t like the liberties Erin A. Craig took with the story. The aspects, however, that the author adapted for her tale are enthralling and clever. The twist on the original premise is impressive.

This book kept me guessing, even until the end. There were so many moments I was angry at the story because it didn’t go in the direction I had hoped only to have everything to flip upside down as the plot yanked me somewhere else. The twists and turns of the book are as turbulent at the sea surrounding the island the sisters live on. At times, this made the book confusing, but in the end, I was able to piece together everything that was happening.

And what an island it is. House of Salt and Sorrows thrives off the atmosphere of the setting. Erin A. Craig does a phenomenal job bringing the world to life through the intricate details of the sea, the fairy slippers, and the manor the sisters grew up in. While some parts were a bit spooky, the story had a good balance between fantasy and horror. It wasn’t too scary for me to read, but it did leave goosebumps across my skin.

As for the characters, Annaleigh came across as the typical YA fantasy female protagonist. She certainly has a stubborn determination that I admire, but she’s also easily forgettable among the rest of the standard YA characters. The other sisters could have been developed further as well, but Erin A. Craig did a decent job juggling so many characters in one story. I can’t really blame her that most of the sisters were lumped into groups. Cassius, the love interest, was my least favorite character, though. I spent most of the book squinting my eyes at him, convinced there was something off about him. I was partly right, but it wasn’t what I expected and he never won me over.

House of Salt and Sorrows is a great read if you’re looking for something slightly creepy, somewhat magical, and extremely atmospheric. It’s perfect to pick up for an autumn read or if you’re in the mood for a dark fairy tale retelling.

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~I received a copy of House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig in the August Owlcrate book box, which I purchased, and chose to write this review of my own free will. All opinions are my own.~

13 thoughts on “Book Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

  1. Fantastic review! I liked what you said about the 12 Dancing Princesses retelling aspect. I enjoyed how she included it, but it really wasn’t the full retelling that I was expecting from the marketing and summary for it. It was so atmospheric, and it was spooky but not too much. I do agree about the characters overall. I just never connected with them, and I think it was because Annaleigh was just never developed as much as she could be. Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Book Spotlight: Small Favors by Erin A. Craig – Jaime Writes Words and Waffles

  3. Pingback: Book Spotlight: Small Favors by Erin A. Craig | Keeper of the Wood Between Worlds

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