FICTION

House of Salt and Sorrows

Delacorte. Aug. 2019. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781984831927.
COPY ISBN

Gr 8 Up–An accomplished first novel, equal parts gothic fairy tale and romance. Teenage Annaleigh and her seven sisters live in their ancestral house of Highmoor with their father and stepmother, the Duke and Duchess of the People of the Salt. Their family has been in near-continuous mourning for years after the deaths, one by one, of the girls’ mother and four older sisters. Desperate for some happiness and an escape from their island community, the girls find a hidden passageway and begin a series of secret nights dancing their shoes into tatters at darkly splendid balls. The foreboding atmosphere intensifies, and eventually Annaleigh decides to forgo the parties and unravel the mysteries surrounding her family’s ongoing tragedies. Loosely based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” the novel takes place in a 17th-century European–sounding world where an invented pantheon of gods guide, and sometimes afflict, their human devotees. The author’s background in theater design surely contributed to Annaleigh’s first-person narration as she tells the sisters’ story in lavish visual detail. Well-described settings with rocky shores, obsidian fireplaces, and satin gowns bring this magical realm to life. Nuanced heroes and villains with complex backstories reveal their motives throughout the narrative, and the cause—and resolution—of the family’s sorrows is both unexpected and thoroughly satisfying.

VERDICT Compulsively readable, with sweet young love and truly creepy horror. First purchase for school and public libraries.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.