Published by Delacorte on August 6, 2019
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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.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given, offered, or taken to alter the opinion forth with.
I have only ever read one other retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses and I loved it. So I admit that I had very high expectations for this book. I think that overall, this book delivered.
The book was perfectly balanced between the light and silliness of little girls and sisters, and the darkness creeping towards them. Somehow I ended up reading the creepiest parts of this book in the middle of the night. I’m not even exaggerating. There were a few nights that I definitely was creeped out in my own house and didn’t want to be walking around in the dark. There were some truly chilling passages and times when I didn’t know what to believe either.
The story follows Annaleigh and her sisters as they grapple with the terrible grief of losing their elder sisters. After a series of ghostly appearances, Annaleigh is convinced that her sisters’ deaths weren’t accidents. So we follow her and her quest to discover what truly happened to her sisters and why.
Honestly, this book was pretty compelling although I was a bit annoyed with the girls’ father, Ortun, (Morella) their step mother, and Camille (Annaleigh’s only remaining older sister). They all struck me as quite selfish. Out of all of them, I really disliked Ortun which disappointed me a bit. I was hoping he’d be the type of father that it warm and kind, but yeah… I didn’t get what I hoped for.
I absolutely loved Annaleigh’s younger sister, Verity. She was so sweet and adorable.
All in all, I think the author did a good job of assembling a cast of flawed but forgivable characters (with the exception of Ortun and one other but I don’t want to spoil anything). It was a very large cast of characters so it was a bit of challenge keeping all of the sisters straight but I felt like the author did a really good job of identifying the girls each time so that I never felt lost.
Of course, a fairytale retelling isn’t complete without suitors and I really loved the ones in this book. They were endearing, distinct, and great compliments to the sisters’ dynamics.
The thing that impressed me most about this book though was definitely all of the twists in the last half of the book. The world building in this novel was incredible. The story takes you on quite the roller coaster and I didn’t expect any of it. House of Salt and Sorrows is a very clever take on the tale. At the end of this book I was left surprised by all of the twists and turns and completely satisfied.