You ever come across those books that just don’t let you sleep at night? Well, this was one of them. House of Salt and Sorrows was a very interesting and creepy read that I didn’t expect to get invested in! I wasn’t aware that it was based on 12 Dancing Princesses until I was reading and found that it was actually a very obvious retelling, and while I don’t really know a lot about the fairy tale, I did watch the Barbie movie when I was six….and this was a loooooooooot darker than that for sure.
In the seaside estate of Highmoor, there’s a family that is said to be cursed. Four out of the twelve daughters have died, and Annaleigh, the sixth sister, would do anything to keep the rest alive. She’s skeptical of the curse and gets even more suspicious when she realizes her sister wasn’t the only one who was at the cliff where she supposedly jumped to her death. The sisters begin to sneak away at night, in beautiful ball gowns and fairy shoes, to a magical door that takes them to balls where no one knows who they are, or the curse that they are supposedly affiliated with. There, they forget all their grief and worry, but not Annaleigh. While she tries to discover the truth, a new man arrives in town and immediately catches her eye.
I have pretty mixed reactions about this novel as a whole. The plot was unique and definitely not someone’s usual take on a fairy tale, but it also felt like the author could’ve done a little more with the book. The romance portion, along with Cassius’ and Fisher’s own characterizations could’ve been developed more. These characters feel like they have so much potential, and the romance in itself needs a little more something to be believable. The ending also felt a bit rushed and the epilogue didn’t really give a lot of details as to how that actually happened. Personally, I felt like House of Salt and Sorrows was divided into two: a fairy tale retelling, and a family tragedy narrative. At times, it didn’t feel like it was a consistent and coherent book, but as I went further along, it got a lot better since it blended elements of horror, mystery, and fantasy.
House of Salt and Sorrows does find its perfection in worldbuilding. I love how the author made me feel as if I was truly on an island at sea, inside a creepy manor, and in a magical ballroom. I loved the twists and turns in the story, and very rarely do I ever get creeped out by a book. In its core, the book is a psychological thriller that will definitely make someone feel creeped out at night. I read this at four in the morning, and it probably wasn’t the wisest decision, but it made the experience so much better!
Trigger Warnings: descriptive animal mutilation and very vivid and bloody scenes.
Do you know of any books that caused you to lose sleep at night? Which ones would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!