Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

The Basics:
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
YA Paranormal
Published September 23, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo

Check out the first 11 chapters for free here.

Why I picked up this book:

I'm a sucker for a historical romance, and this one combines witches (cautious yay?) and a young woman who knows she's going to be murdered, which sounded kind of sad.


A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

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.

My thoughts:

Salt & Storm is all about pain. It's a rich, lush story with lots of poignant moments. And all my tears. If I'd had a paperback copy, sections of it would have been tear-stained. 

Very early on Avery learns from her dream-reading that she will be murdered in the not too distant future. She's spent four years living under her mother's thumb, denied access to her magic-wielding witchy grandmother, and now it's a priority that Avery escapes and learns all that she can before it's too late.

I'm not sure that I can quite say that I *enjoyed* Salt & Storm. I think it's very well-written, and that Tane and Avery were both able to worm their ways into my heart. So why all the tears? Pretty much the same reason why I couldn't entirely enjoy it - right from the start Avery's dream-reading tells us that something *horrible* is going to happen. That looms overhead through the entire book, making it impossible to relax as we and Avery wait for the other shoe to drop. The whole time I was hoping that she would find a way to escape the fate she'd foretold, and every time that was blocked somehow? Shot to the heart!

Salt & Storm really tugged on all my heartstrings: Avery's mother's tunnel-vision over how Avery should live her life was infuriating - it emphasized how trapped Avery was and how isolated. I think the book does an excellent job of casting Avery's mom in this complicated role. She claims to be protecting Avery, to be trying to give her a better life, but when Avery wants no part of it, it's hard not to see this 'better life' as imprisoning her rather than providing her with new opportunities.

I absolutely loved the whaling details in this book. It would have been easy - and disappointing - for this sort of book to grab onto the sea component for flavour without it really resonating within the story. Instead, Salt & Storm uses the island locale and the whaling community as an integral component. The Roe witch is really woven into the foundation of the whaling industry. Avery's commitment to the community, her recognition of the very essential services the witch provides to the whalers and her determination to be a part of that legacy is at the heart of the book's conflict. 

Bottom line:

Salt & Storm is an incredibly emotional story, one that embraces the seafaring community of its' island setting and imagines what it would mean to have a resident witch to develop an industry around. It made me cry. A lot. I cannot emphasize that enough. Strongly recommend for those who don't mind reaching for tissues!

4.5 stars
For fans of tearjerkers, sea-related stories, whales, witches

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