House of Salt & Sorrow

The leaves are falling. The air is crisp. Jack-o-lanterns decorate porches and boxes of mini-chocolate bars line the shelves at Walmart. Halloween has arrived. It’s the only time of the year that I dare to open a scary story and this year I chose The House of Salt and Sorrows.

The people of the salt are different. They are created from the salt of the ocean tides and brought to life by the sea god Pontus. When they die, they cannot be buried in the earth. Their bodies must return to the salt of the sea.

Four of Annaleigh’s sisters have already returned to the sea. There was once 12 sisters, the Thaumas dozen, and they were all revered as high matches for marriage. But after four untimely tragedies the townsfolk now believe that the sisters are cursed.

Strange images of the dead sisters begin creeping into their home. A steaming bath appears that no one poured. The scent of honeysuckle perfume lingers in hallways. Annaleigh is convinced her sister’s deaths are more than just unfortunate accidents. The closer she comes to learning the circumstances surrounding their deaths, the stranger things become. The images of her deceased sisters turn darker. They become flashes of nightmarish visions full of blood and terror.

Later, the remaining sisters discover a secret door that leads to a grand hall. Transfixed, the sisters enter to only be summoned to a peculiar ball filled with masked strangers. Night after night, the sisters return to dance until their shoes wear out. But who are these strangers and what do they want with the Thaumas sisters?

The House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin Craig is a chilling retelling of the Grimm fairytale “Twelve Dancing Princesses” and makes for a great Halloween read. It does have its dark passages, but it’s also a mix of fantasy and mythology which makes it somewhat less terrifying than a pure horror story. (Last year I read The Rules for Vanishing and it scared THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS out of me). If you like to be scared… but still be able to sleep at night The House of Salt and Sorrows is an excellent pick for you.

— Lesley L.