House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

House of Salt and Sorrows  Book Cover


Goodreads: House of Salt and Sorrows
Series: None
Source: Library
Published: 2019


Annaleigh lives with her sisters in Highmoor Manor, a house by the sea. Once there were twelve of them, but four of her sisters are already dead, and Annaleigh is beginning to think that is no accident. Each night, she and her sisters sneak out to attend glittering balls. But who–or what–are they really dancing with? Now Annaleigh must place her trust in a mysterious and handsome stranger if she is to break the curse that haunts her family.

Star Divider


House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig is a darkly atmospheric retelling of the fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” Annaleigh and her eleven sisters live in a manor by the sea, but now four of them are dead. At first, the deaths seemed like accidents, but the locals are murmuring of a curse, and Annaleigh is beginning to suspect murder. When another of her sisters begins claiming that she can see and speak with the ghosts of their dead siblings, Annaleigh must discover the truth before someone else gets hurt. House of Salt and Sorrows is a refreshingly original take on an old tale–one that will have readers afraid to go to sleep at night.

“The Twelve Dancing Princesses” has seen its share of retellings, but I am not sure I have yet read one that embraces the horror genre so strongly. Upon reflection, however, horror is the perfect genre for this story. Twelve girls go dancing at night in a mysterious underground world populated by–what? Monsters? Demons? Certainly someone out to get them. Amping up the terror by adding ghosts seemingly intent on revenge simply makes sense. Readers who enjoy creepy tales will not be disappointed by this one.

Admittedly, however, though I enjoyed the scary aspects of the book, I did find that the allure of the unexplained dissipated rather quickly as the book neared its conclusion. Perhaps this is inevitable. The protagonists need to uncover information related to the mystery in order to solve it. But more information means less fascination–once you know what the ghost is, it will never be as frightening. To compensate for this loss, Craig adds a great deal of action and drama. But I would have preferred more atmospheric creepiness to the fast-paced conclusion.

I was also somewhat disappointed by the book’s romance. Annaleigh spends very little time with her love interest, making it difficult to buy into their relationship. She knows next to nothing about him–about what kind of person he is, what values he holds, what future he envisions. As a result, I could not feel very excited about his appearances, nor could I really believe that Annaleigh and he shared some sort of earth-shattering romance that could defy the fates themselves. He was really just kind of…around. Honestly, I can’t even remember his name.

Still, despite a few weaknesses, House of Salt and Sorrows is a satisfying YA fantasy. Fans of fairy tale retellings will likely want to pick it up. It may not be life-changing, but it is solid and enjoyable.

3 Stars

9 thoughts on “House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

  1. Abby says:

    I like fairytale retellings, so I’ve been planning on picking this up soon. I loved reading your thoughts on the romance and mystery. I love mysteries, but I often find the ending can be difficult if too much information is discovered early on.


    • Krysta says:

      I can see how the atmosphere would be a bit of let-down. It does feel inconsistent in parts.

      I STILL can’t remember his name. I give up!


  2. Xandra @ Starry Sky Books says:

    Although I agree with everything in this review, I really loved the book and gave it 4 stars, despite its flaws! I think I mostly enjoyed the retelling aspect, since the Twelve Dancing Princesses story is not often retold. 🙂 Great review, Krysta!


  3. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    The Twelve Dancing Princesses is a difficult fairy tale to create a retelling for. It’s a really intriguing tale, but so odd… I’ve never found a fully successful retelling. That said, it sounds like Craig is moving in the right direction! Once the youngest princess starts to follow her sisters at night, I always thought there was some horror and creep involved. But, then again, all fairy tales are a bit creepy…

    Hm. I don’t recall romance being a part of the original fairy tale. Do you think, despite the poor execution, that the romance added something needed to the story? If not, why do you think it’s included?


    • Krysta says:

      I think it’s just a difficult tale in general because you theoretically have to handle twelve main characters, and most retellings fail to distinguish anyone but the eldest and the youngest.

      I thought there was a knight/returning soldier in the original tale who follows the princesses with an invisibility cloak or something? And they keep wondering why the boats are so heavy. Then he solves the day and marries one of the princesses. Maybe “romance” is a stretch because I think it’s one of those “solve the mystery and win a princess” deals, not like he knows the princess intimately….


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