The Witch of Salt and Storm (also known as Salt & Storm) by Kendall Kulper, to be published on September 4, 2014 by Orchard Books (Hachette) and September 23, 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young readers.
Source: Netgalley e-arc (thank you, Orchard books, for providing me a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review).
Genre: YA historical fantasy.
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. (Goodreads)
My rating: 4/5.
How do I start writing a review about this one? I liked it quite a lot. I started reading it thinking it will be another YA fantasy/romance thingy, pleasant but nothing surprising. I was wrong, of course, because this book might be a fantasy and it might be a romance, but it is surprising.
Avery Roe is a witch, the youngest in a long line of witches of Prince George Island, but she cannot access her full powers. Her mother has taken her away from her grandmother, who had raised her, and is forcing her to live in the town, dressing her in pretty dresses and making her stay with the help of a powerful curse. Avery hates her mother for it and fights tooth and nail to get back to her grandmother who will surely help her unlock her magic. In the meantime, she practices the art of dream-telling, explaining dreams to the villagers and sailors.
Then, one day, she dreams she will be murdered – and knows she has to become a witch now, because no-one can kill a Roe witch. That’s when Tane, a foreigner harpooner boy, comes into her life, asking her to tell his dreams in exchange for trying to help her break her mother’s curse.
This is how the story begins, very slowly despite the ominous dreams and rumours and the weather and the oppressive feeling that doom is near. If I hade one problem with this book it was this slow, measured coiling of tension that brought no real answers until the second half of the novel.
But then, then I found out just why Kulper decided to take things slow. What do we do when everything we’ve wanted falls out of reach? Avery asks at one point. Salt & Storm is a tale of strong women who’ve made tragic choices, it’s a story of victims who decide to be victims no more, it’s about love found an lost and found again. It’s lyrical and beutiful and quiet and ugly and harsh and desperate and though I struggled through the beginning, I enjoyed it very, very much.
I’m not sure whether it takes a particular state of mind to enjoy this book properly. Maybe some of you will hate it and never bother to fight your way through the slow beginning. Maybe you’ll be disappointed with the ending, quite different from what you’d expect at the start. But maybe, just maybe, it will speak to something you’ve felt, known or wished for and you’ll like it as much as I did.
Whew, this is one fanciful review, isn’t it? I finished this book (and written the review) on the due date of this kid that’s been kicking around my belly for nine whole months now and I feel like this might have had something to do with my opinion. But maybe not. I really recommend you read the book and see for yourselves. It just might be worth it.
Have you read Salt & Storm? I’d love to hear your thoughts (or read your review if you’ve written about it)!
Do you think that you read books differently in different circumstances? Does your current state of mind influence your opinion of the story?