March Book Madness! Day 4, Erin A. Craig’s House of Salt and Sorrows (2019) 3.5/5

Original 2019 Cover

Book Cover

Young Adult Fairy Tale Retelling

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. 

Google Overview

Somber, Shocking, and Reminiscent of Greek Mythology

My first thought when I saw this book was, “Wow! This cover is beautiful.” As I read the story’s premise I got excited because I love fairytale retellings. As an added bonus, Erin Craig had changed up the setting and back story for “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”, which is one of my favorites. So, I bought the book and skipped on home for a nice afternoon of reading.

Craig was an amazing world builder and created an interesting mystery. I was genuinely shocked when I discovered who was behind all the deaths. However, this was not my kind of story.


Craig’s prose throughout House of Salt and Shadows was very engaging and I never felt bored. That wasn’t my problem. It. Was. Just. Too. Sad! I have six siblings and watching the invisible killer tear Annaleigh’s family apart horrified me. I kept imagining if that happened in my family and by the end of the book I cried.

This is just my personal experience. I kept waiting for a silver lining after all the crazy suicides, house burning, and crying was over but it never came. I can handle tragedy and trauma in a story. However, I need a sound resolution for the characters. Perhaps I need to go back and read this book again so I can more fully appreciate how well written it is.

The Characters

Annaleigh was a good heroine. I have no qualms against her. She actively strove to find solutions and save her family. She is my type of gal! Her love interest Cassius seemed wooden though. His personality never fully manifested in the story beyond being a love interest. However, I did like Cassius and Annaleigh’s scenes together. He has some pleasantly romantic lines. I also like how he strove to be there and help her sisters.

The one character I was the most disappointed in was their father, the king. Though there are other major villains, his choices led his family to destruction. All of the anguish this family suffered was rooted in his infidelity and treatment of others.

I do wish I could have known Annaleigh’s other sisters better.

Who is this book for?

If you like darker fairytale retellings like Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Johanna Ruth Meyer’s novel Echo North or Francis Harding’s Deeplight you might enjoy House of Salt and Sorrows.

Favorite Quotes

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

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.

“Oh my darling Annaleigh, remember when you let the turtles go? Some things can’t be kept.” He cupped my cheek, and my tears trickled down his fingers. “Be brave. Be strong. You’ll always have my whole heart.

Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow!

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March Book Madness! Day 5 Louis L’Amour’s The Lonesome Gods (1984) 5/5