One of the hardest types of books to find are stand alones, at least when it comes to anything Fantasy. Fantasy as a genre is one of the few that is filled with series, and not quick in and out storylines. To be fair, it can be really hard to set up a fantasy world in a short span of time unless it is founded in some reality, which is why Fantasy stand alones are a rare breed of book. It is also a good reason for how excited I was to get this 2019 release!
House of Salt & Sorrows is a retelling of the twelve dancing princesses on the island nation of Highmore. Annaleigh is the sixth of her sisters, old enough to have known and miss her older sisters after their deaths, and yet unaware of what had caused those deaths in the first place. Add to it that the people of Highmore think they are cursed after 4 girls dead, and Annaleigh seeing her sister’s ghosts and the air of mystery begins. It doesn’t help that her remaining sisters are now dancing their nights away at a mysterious ball accessed only through a hidden door. Will Annaleigh find out what had killed her sisters before everyone else in her family turns up dead?
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten into so many series that I’ve needed a good solid ending for a while. Yes, we’ve had a lot of finales for big series this year, but it was still really nice having a mystery and a resolution by the time the book closed out. It leaves you satisfied and accomplished when done right, and this book was done right. It wasn’t a hefty book, but it did a great job of developing a large cast of characters, building a world, and immersing you in the mystery of the story all in a nice concise package.
To begin with there is a lot of mystery and suspense in this retelling. For one, there are now four sisters dead when we start, the fourth just recently dead after falling from a cliff. That’s not suspicious at all, is it? Annaleigh is already uncertain of the nature of the death before finding clues that it may not have been suicide, so the story at this point is mixing a dark mystery with a little investigative skills, and then there’s also everyone thinking they’re cursed. I’ve never pitied a fictional family as much as I did at this element, since not only have they lost loved ones, but are being judged for it. Ouch. Craig does a fantastic job of bringing you into a rather large family, but keeping it simple and drawing you into it. I was really trying to figure out who was who, and how the other sisters could have been murdered.
The mixing of the different worlds the daughters live and play in was amazing. In an effort to escape the curse talk and the grief, the girls find a hidden door to endless parties. It sounds great until Annaleigh breaks away to help her father, and realizes that her sisters are not only dancing their way through too many shoes, but staying up really late and sleeping in more and more every day to the point that they are like zombies. It ends up being a two front war for her as she works to find out what happened in the past while saving her present family.
I think the only bit of this story that fell flat for me was the relationship that comes out of the book, which is funny since I was rooting for it from the start. It’s not that it’s a bad couple, or ending, but it just felt meh. I don’t know, maybe I was expecting something bigger, which could be more on me, because there was plenty of build up, and mysteriousness in this department . There was a lot of mysteriousness in this book, it was like a big equation the reader had to solve with Annaleigh, and it kept me hooked until I finished it. Definitely getting added to my stand alones list (it might already be there lol).
What were your thoughts on House of Salt and Sorrows? What stand alone came to your rescue in between series? Let me know in the comments below!