Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

Posted August 27, 2014 in Book Review / 0 Comments


I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Salt & Storm by Kendall KulperSalt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Published by Brown Books for Young Readers on September 23rd 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy on Amazon

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.

Due to my feelings about this book, I’m going to forego my normal review style.

I’m gonna be honest. I hated this book. I’m gonna be even more honest than that. I didn’t hate it right up until the end. I just kept holding out hope that there was gonna be some redemption. Know what I got instead? Disappointment. I got disappointment.

This book was just really painful. It was depressing. It’s a dark, dark book. I laughed exactly once. I spent most of the book feeling anxious and strained. It was a weight. Reading this book was carrying a huge weight on my chest. I feel sick whenever I think about it now.

It just inspired a lot of hate and depression. Anger. Blind, blind fury. You know who I hated most in this book? Her mother. After all that went on, there was absolutely nothing anyone could do to make me forgive her. Her mother may have meant well, but her every action was pure, pure evil. She was a devil. This may be a theme in books of this sort. Think The Golden Compass.

I want to talk about the ending for a minute. The very first thing that happened prophesized the ending. Of course, as the book went on, I thought, there’s definitely going to be some big twist that’s going to change things and it will be all right. There always is. There are always happy endings. I was thinking to myself, ‘I really wish things would for once turn out exactly the way you think they should, exactly as the characters think they’re going to, without some big twist to save the day.’ Well, I got what I wished for. And I hated it. 

I got what I wished for. And I hated it.

 That was the difference between making this a one-star book and a three-star book. As much as I like being truthful and realistic, I like happy endings more.

I leave the truth to poetry, and in fiction I admire the ability to play God.

I leave the truth to poetry, and in fiction I admire the ability to play God, as another depressing ARC I read recently explains. [commence rant] [note: this is not directed at anyone and certainly not at the author] I can’t help it, I am a sucker for happy endings. No matter how rightful the ending is, if it’s not happy for the majority of the characters, I HATE it. It HAS to be happy. If you have to freaking turn the world upside down, suddenly bring in magic on the last page, conjure some miracle, bring about the end of the world where everyone dies, then do it if that sets things right. If that fixes all the problems and makes for a satisfying, if not happy, ending, then by all means throw any inhibitions to the wind and write to make your readers happy. If you want to throw the truth in our faces and give us a reality check (whenever this happens I liken it to being slapped in the face with a wet fish) then do it throughout the course of the novel (but leave the ending happy) or write a memoir. Write poetry. Those are your options. [end rant]

So you can tell the ending was not a happy one. I won’t try to hide that or mark it as a spoiler. It may have been satisfying to some people. But I doubt many people will consider it happy. Maybe it was the right thing to happen. Who can say. Really, who has the right to decide that? Hm. But anyhow, the ending was painful, just like the entire book. I was glad to be free of the story. I still feel the cloud over my heart. It’ll fade, eventually. But right now I have to write while I’m still feeling.

How have I neglected to mention anything specific about the book so far? Well, I guess it’s not really important. I didn’t really like any of the characters. Avery. It took me a while to remember her name. It’s so…not witch-like, you know? I dunno, I guess it could be. Anyway, she was all right I guess, but she didn’t stand up for herself nearly enough. To her mother, to the island people…all the time when she could have said something (something truthful, no less!) to make them understand, or try to make them hate her less, she kept her trap shut. She accepted it. Well, then she deserved what she got. The other characters felt kind of 2-dimensional. Even dear Tane. If I wanted him to be okay in the end, it was because I wanted a happy ending, not because I truly cared for him or even thought he was a good match for Avery. In fact, the most 3D character in the entire book was her mother, who is one of the most evil people I have ever read about. Isn’t that often the case?

Why would I have made it three stars if not for the ending? What are the good points? The writing. It wasn’t funny or happy, but it was dark and descriptive. I like that writing if the story is good, but I definitely do prefer some humor. I like humor. But this was just a dark, dark book. What else was good? The premise was good, as is usually the case. The execution (no pun intended)- not so much. Like I said, it could have been salvaged, until the end. Then it was all lost. 

It could have been salvaged, until the end. Then it was all lost.

The one thing I can truly credit this book for is its ability to make me feel so strongly. I felt anxiety throughout. I felt hatred, so fierce that it actually began to affect my life outside of reading, and I felt anguish, pure agony at the end when I realized there was going to be no happy ending.

About Kendall Kulper

Kendall Kulper is the author of SALT & STORM, a Young Adult historical fantasy to be published by Little, Brown in September 2014. She grew up in the wilds of New Jersey and currently lives in Boston with her economist husband, Dave, and Abby, her chronically-anxious Australian Shepherd.

Overall: half-star


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