Review: The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper
Published September 4th 2014 by Orchard Books
Review copy received from Netgalley
The Witch of Salt and Storm manages something that happens rarely for me in a book – full immersion into the world the author creates. Set on an island that is connected to the sea and whaling, this book is moody and lyrical, and very different from the usual voice in YA.
Avery is the youngest girl in the Roe family, and supposed to be the next Roe witch. She has been stolen away from her grandmother by her mom, who refuses her birthright and keeps her from being a witch. Together with the help from a mysterious sailor boy, Avery tries to break the curse to become the next Roe witch to protect the island.
The Witch of Salt and Storm (also called Salt & Storm in the US) was one of my most anticipated releases of this September. It was so different from what I was expecting, and so good! I love how even though there is the typical “mysterious bad boy arrives” trope that is so insanely common in YA, the course of the rest of the book is very atypical. Especially the last 30% will keep you on the edge of your seat because you just don’t know how it’s going to end.
Just as Prince island and Avery is so closely connected to whaling, likewise this book is drenched in whale. There are so many mentions and metaphors concerning whales and the sea that the book almost feels like a fantasy, even though it’s more of a paranormal story. The prose itself comes and goes, waves and wanes in lyrical expressions and sidesteps, just like the sea. Whether you enjoy this element of the book or not is extremely personal – either you’ll enjoy it and be swept away, or you’ll think it’s dull and circumspect.
There is one small complaint I had with the message in the book, which I won’t go further into here. It’s so closely tied with the resolution of the book that it’s impossible to talk about without major spoilers. It is however, the reason I gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5.
I feel like that the YA publishing is really picking up lately, stepping away from the 2000s style of story (like in Twilight, Fallen, Hush, Hush) and instead experimenting with prose and themes in a (forgive me for the terminology) more mature way.
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother – the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic – steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe’s power.
The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive.
Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.
- Review: The Army of the Lost by Lily Herne (3 Stars)
- Review: Choker by Elizabeth Woods (4 Stars)
- Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn (5 Stars)
- Review: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson (3.5 Stars)