A review by plumpaperbacks
House of Salt and Sorrows, by Erin A. Craig

dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I think House of Salt and Sorrows might be my most unexpected favorite read of 2020.

When I was younger, I loved the Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses movie. My nostalgic feelings for that movie combined with the realization that I’d never read a retelling of 12 Dancing Princesses led to me picking up this book, which I figured would be a bit spooky. I didn’t realize how much it would creep me out until I was too invested in the story to stop reading, and decided I’d only read during the day with the lights on, maybe music in the background. Not everyone will find this scary, but I did.

Craig put so much into so few pages, and did a phenomenal job of it. The story is set on a small set of islands, but the world beyond is immense, the mythology intricate. There are numerous characters—the twelve sisters and their father, their stepmother, friends and lovers and household staff and island citizens—but Craig developed all of them well enough to make it easy for me to differentiate between them.

I really enjoyed the dynamics between the sisters. Annaleigh was a bit plain, I won’t lie, but she was still compelling in a way I’m not sure I can explain. I liked all of the sisters still living at the time of the story, and given the way they were written, I’m sure I would’ve loved the dead ones if I’d been able to get
to know them. I loved little Verity. 10 out of 10, would hug, possibly my favorite Thaumas sibling. (I almost always love the baby beans. Not sure why.)

While on the subject of character dynamics, I enjoyed the sisters’ interactions with Hanna and her son Fisher. Though the former was somewhat swept aside as the story progressed, seeing her step in as a maternal figure after their mother died was quite sweet. She was technically their nurse—maybe their maid, I can’t recall which—but she cared for all of the girls as if they were hers, and I loved to see it. Her son Fisher was a friend to the whole family, dancing with the sisters at their parties when no one else would. He was just so sweet. Pretty sure sweetness is genetic in this case. Like mother, like son, or whatever the saying is.

You know who else was really sweet? The love interest Cassius. I won’t say anything about whether or not he’s trustworthy, because that would ruin the fun, but I loved his relationship with Annaleigh. Absolutely loved it. I ship it so much, I can’t even express. They! Are! Adorable!

Lastly, I want to address how freaking WILD this book’s story is. I marathoned 75% of the book this afternoon in a matter of hours. The horror elements were a surprise, but even more surprising was the way the second half of the novel resembled a psychological thriller. I had no idea what to expect or who to trust or even who actually existed. I can’t specify due to spoilers, but once again, it was WILD. Please read this.

I enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrows way more than I ever thought I would. I look forward to buying my own copy, recommending this to everyone, and eventually reading Craig’s next release.

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