cover image House of Salt and Sorrows

House of Salt and Sorrows

Erin A. Craig. Delacorte, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-9848-3192-7

Evocative details and lyrical, moody prose distinguish this tale—with strong allusions to “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”—of 12 sisters who seemingly fall under a curse, resulting in their deaths under tragic and violent circumstances over the course of several years. Debut author Craig stages the narrative in an enigmatic island realm set apart from the outside world and governed by a mythology that is connected to the ocean. The sisters (only seven remain when the story begins) live with their father and his significantly younger new wife at seaside manor Highmoor. Fearful of meeting fates similar to their siblings’, all but one sister, Annaleigh, seek refuge through pageantry and nights spent dancing until dawn (fairy tale–like details abound: velvet-draped ballrooms, extravagant “fairy shoes”). Craig offers a well-placed element of grotesquerie as the sisters become puppetlike pawns controlled by a malevolent force. Certain elements—including a duplicitous central character’s arc and the story’s budding romance—carry a degree of predictability, but these are minor distractions in an otherwise richly conceived story that blends mythic and Gothic storytelling. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sarah Landis, Sterling Lord Literistic. [em](Aug.) [/em]