Saturday, August 16, 2014

NERC Review #36: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

*eARC kindly provided by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via NetGalley*

I had never heard of this book until people started talking about it and brought home those gorgeous covers from BEA. And when I read the synopsis, I knew this was one that I wanted. I'm kind of addicted to witch stories, so it became a highly anticipated book. And I really enjoyed Salt & Storm.

Rating: 4 Stars!
I had a love/hate relationship with the main character. Avery Roe is a witch. Or, at least, she will be one. Her family has protected the sailors and whalers since the very first Roe came to Prince Island. Her whole life, Avery has known one thing: she will follow in her grandmother's footsteps and become the witch of the island. It's her destiny, her path in life. And it's all she's ever known. But when her mother comes back into her life, Avery is forced to give up magic and her fate. Because of that, she hates her mother, is constantly thinking of ways to break the woman's spell, and longs for her grandmother and the cottage by the sea. In the beginning, Avery struct me as a very strong, sassy character who defied proper and class even though that's all her mother wants for her as a woman in this time. To marry and become a housewife with propriety and dignity. But Avery wants none of that. She wants to be the witch, and nothing will stop her. Over the course of the book, though, Avery came across as childish, whiny, self-absorbed, and generally unlikable. She spends all her time complaining about her mother and waiting for the day she can escape. And when she finds out she's going to be murdered, she just...accepts it. Like she has no say in her fate. She resigns herself to a short life filled with the knowledge that she won't be able to fulfill her destiny and birthright. She just gives up. On everything. I wanted her to fight! I wanted her to say screw rolling over and playing dead. With Tane, that girl shined through but she didn't stay. It's understandable how broken Avery became, especially after all that she went through. She became a hollow shell of the girl she used to be. The author spared no expense in putting her through the ringer. But I hate characters who don't even bother trying, and by the end, I just didn't care what happened to her. 

Even with my Avery problems, I loved the romance between her and the tattooed harpoon boy, Tane. His story was pretty heartbreaking, and it just made me like him all the more. He's sweet, funny, and determined to help Avery even while he has his own problems and fight. He came to the island for one thing and didn't expect falling in love with the witch who makes him want to give up everything for her. His story was intriguing, and I loved finding out more about him, even the ugly parts. Their romance was sweet and full of first love and everything that comes with it. 

I was honestly indifferent about the other characters. Her grandmother and her mother were two women who kept Avery in the dark and hid the secrets of their ancestry and what it took to become the witch. The relationships Avery had with both of them were very complex, which made for interesting family drama. But I felt like Avery threw too much of the blame on her mother. I wish there'd been more resolution between the two of them.

The plot was intriguing! I loved that it was set in the Victorian era. I guess it would be considered an alternative history? I don't know exactly, but Prince Island had its own history, and so did the story of the Roe witches. I loved that part of the story and how the magic was done and what being the witch meant. The writing style was a mix of past and present, and I didn't have trouble following it (though I know other readers will not appreciate the switches). It was very detailed, the descriptions helped me create a picture in my mind while reading. And that ending was kind of perfect for the story, even though the hopelessly romantic part of me wishes it was less bleak and tragic.

I loved that this book was a standalone because you don't find many of those in the young adult genre! Salt & Storm explored a darker side of magic with complex characters and one girl's journey of first love, heartbreak, and self-discovery. It's about what happens when the one thing you want most comes with a sacrifice you don't know if you're willing to make.


  1. I'm currently reading it and have heard nothing but great things about it ;) I do like that it seems to be an alternate universe/Victorian era-esque. So far I like Avery, but we shall see. Lovely review, Holly!

    1. Thank you!! And I hope you love it! Despite the problems (okay, mostly just the Avery problem), I really enjoyed this one. :)


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