Young Adult/Historical Fantasy
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Available September 23rd
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.
Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.
Salt & Storm is a heavier read, death and darkness weighing us down with each chapter as we slowly uncover the price Avery must pay to access the birthright of her magic. The beauty of love exists solely in the shadow of Death’s hooded figure, and no matter how Avery tries to escape it, that shadow dogs her heels from page one to four hundred. While the heaviness of this story can be attributed in large part to the subject matter itself, the writing is another contributing factor, this story favoring both descriptive details and tangential anecdotes, sending us on brief jaunts to the past as Avery recalls specific moments in order to introduce us to particular people or places in the present. This style, though helpful in creating a vivid picture of Avery’s small whaling town, does slow the overall pace of her story down quite a bit, combining with the pain and sacrifice required to become the Roe witch to leave us in need of light and happy reads for the weeks following our closing of the back cover.
From the beginning, Avery erects a number of roadblocks that keep us from settling in beside her as she fights to prevent her death dream from becoming a reality, her behavior that of someone exceedingly selfish whose sole focus is the harm done unto her without once looking outward to see what harm her words or actions have on others. With Tane in particular she is at times extraordinarily argumentative, screaming at him for his inability to help her (despite his best efforts) while refusing to acknowledge that she too has failed in her own promise to help him interpret his dreams. She does at least recognize when her anger gets the better of her, but is almost never able to stop it from spilling past her lips and finding its target in either Tane or her mother, and while we’ve all been there many a time when stress levels get to be more than we can handle, the repetitive nature of her actions keeps our capacity for forgiveness frighteningly low.
Avery is in no way all bad however, once she resigns herself to the fact that she won’t be able to escape her dream’s prediction, she puts all her considerable focus into finally aiding Tane. His needs suddenly outweigh her own desires, and she oh-so slowly in the latter half of this book becomes a young woman we actually want to see find her happiness even though we know the chances of her reaching the last chapter without a body or heart riddled with scars is highly unlikely. Tane, for his part, is infinitely patient with Avery, enduring her impressive mood swings with lopsided smiles and calming assurances, and never once stooping to her level to fire back at her with insults of his own.
Overall, Salt & Storm is not an easy read for a number of reasons, a tricky heroine and a story steeped in tragedy and heartbreak making this a book more easily digested in smaller pieces rather than consumed all at once. Despite those issues however, Ms. Kulper is undeniably a talented writer and storyteller, and most certainly someone I would read again.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.