In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed. Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the ...

Review || House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

In a manor by the sea,
twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn't sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh's involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.


I'm completely enamored of fairy tale retellings, especially when they are done with a sinister twist. After all, original fairy tales tend to be darker and deeper than the Disney-fied versions that they have become. If you don't know the story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, it's the Brothers Grimm tale of a King who had 12 daughters. Each night, they were locked in their bedroom. Yet, in the morning, their shoes were inexplicably worn out. The King promised any of his daughter's hand in marriage to the man who could figure out the mystery. Those who failed, died. With a bit of scheming, one of the potential suitors discovers that the princesses are dancing the night away at an enchanted castle. The House of Salt and Sorrows takes this and gives it a wonderfully creepy gothic flourish.

For a debut novel, this is an incredible offering. It's a dark fantasy threaded with almost whimsical mystery and peeks of horror elements. Erin A. Craig weaves this eerie world with its own set of mythologies so perfectly, that you even begin to question whether what's happening is real. The horror components were the best part for me. Unexpected and gruesome, with a gratifying nightmarish quality, those little moments of disturbing terror play out in a way that any horror fan will adore.  Yet, her overall storytelling vibe is hauntingly beautiful and almost poetic.

Even though there are only eight sisters living, the reader is introduced to all twelve in turn. Each sister presents her own distinct personality and traits, even those that are now among the dead. The characters were so well done! You are drawn to have strong feelings about each character, which shows how well written they are. Annaleigh's father as the inattentive, almost neglectful father and of course, with all fairy tales, there's an evil stepmother...or is she? Of course, then you have the handsome love interest and the best friend pining for the MC. All are written in such a way that your estimation wavers throughout until you don't know who is being truthful. When you think you have it mastered, something else occurs and confounds you again. The ending was like being hit by a sledgehammer. 

House of Salt and Sorrows is my #1 read this year, PAWS down! I'll be saving this one to reread again later. In fact, I kinda want to read it again right now. I can't wait to see what the author has in store for us next!

Erin A. Craig has always loved telling stories.

After getting her B.F.A. from the University of Michigan, in Theatre Design and Production, she stage managed tragic operas with hunchbacks, séances, and murderous clowns, then decided she wanted to write books that were just as spooky.

An avid reader, a decent quilter, rabid basketball fan, and collector of typewriters, Erin makes her home in Memphis, TN with her husband and daughter. She watches entirely too many horror movies.

Her debut novel, HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS, will be published August 6, 2019 by Delacorte Press.