DNF Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, an Interesting Concept, but Not For Me

I was definitely wowed by the pretty cover, and am honestly super sad I decided to DNF (Did Not Finish) this.

I’m hoping to pick it up at a later date, but given how I have to be ruthless with what I read before I leave for college, it means House of Salt and Sorrows is a DNF. It took me a while to decide this, but ultimately I chose a DNF + no rating would be better than reading something I didn’t want to read & wasn’t super invested in, and then giving it a low rating.

It’s got such a cool concept, but it didn’t hook me, and I think this is one that was better for me personally to pass on. I definitely think other people will love it and should give it a shot, but for right now, I both wasn’t entirely in the mood and without enough focus to embark on this journey fully.

I’ve never written a DNF review (haven’t really DNF’d an ARC up till now), but going forward, I’m trying to be more selective with my time and energy. I think in the right mood, I’d devour this story.

What I did read was lovely, if not a little slow.

It was very rich and the Gothic influences popped out. It was almost a little like Caraval (although slightly less flowery) meets a bit of a regency feeling (then again, I can’t really tell the difference between styles in much of historical England). It was full of this type of writing, which I definitely enjoy on occasion, but just wasn’t in the mood for right now.

I think if you like some of the style of regency stories (although not too stuffy) and the sort of Gothic atmosphere, you’ll enjoy this. It does edge a bit into spooky territory (there’s a trigger warning for suicide) and some darker contents.

What was holding me back, despite the lovely writing, was mostly the pacing. It took quite a while for the story to start speeding up and Annaleigh does a lot of ruminating in the first fourth, and not much movement or action. It made it really hard for me to get invested.

My biggest setback was just the sisters & some of the worldbuilding.

The editor’s note at the beginning noted how the sisters are easy to distinguish.

They . . . were not. For me, at least.

I realize this is partly because of how it was hard for me to get invested with the pacing, but I could not tell the sisters apart by name. The only one I can name is Eulalie (I hope I spelled this right) who was one of the four who died. But there were also more than ten sisters, and I could not distinguish them by name, let alone tell their ages.

I think readers who try a little harder to remember who’s who, but I was honestly transported back to Three Dark Crowns and the huge cast of characters in that novel. I can enjoy it at times, but this was not the circumstance for me.

Similarly, a lot of the worldbuilding was just kind of . . . boring? I feel bad for saying this, but I think it’s more like the sort of setting didn’t interest me as much in practice as it did in theory. I have a strong feeling that a Gothic setting with a sort of made up white-adjacent culture is just not my jam. There’s these different gods, the island is different from the mainland, and it’s all very historical England feeling.

Overall, this was a case of “not for me.”

I think people who loved fantasies like Three Dark Crowns or Caraval will enjoy House of Salt and Sorrows. It just ended up being not for me at this moment, but hopefully I’ll pick it up again one day and love it a lot more!

I’m pretty bummed, but I know this is for the best. I don’t think it means House of Salt and Sorrows is bad, but just not for me.

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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.

add to goodreads here

Thank you so much to Delacorte & Erin Craig for providing me with an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review!

Have you read House of Salt and Sorrows? Is it on your TBR?

I’ve never written a DNF review before, but it’s definitely time I start learning! Because, whew! College.

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3 thoughts on “DNF Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, an Interesting Concept, but Not For Me

  1. I’m sorry that this one didn’t work for you! I read an ARC as well (an e-ARC even though I’m dying for a physical one) and had to start it over to make a family tree.

    For me, the book was super cathartic. My sister passed away very suddenly so reading the grief rep really hit home for me.

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  2. Ah, sorry to hear that this wasn’t for you. I love the sound of the premise and I’ve been really excited to read it for several months now lol thanks for sharing your honest thoughts though 🙂 Hope your next read is better!

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  3. I’ve been seeing a lot of mixed reviews for this one, and after yours I’m pretty sure this is not for me. I can deal with slow pacing – and the Gothic, Regency atmosphere sounds wonderful, but the characters being hard to tell apart is a huge no from me. I get easily confused and annoyed when there are so many characters and they kind of blend together. Anyhow, great review. 🙂

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