Book Review: Salt & Storm

Posted August 22, 2014 by Lyn Kaye in book review, Lyn / 12 Comments

Book Review: Salt & StormSalt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Published by Little Brown Books For Young Readers on September 23rd 2014
Genres: paranormal, young adult
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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three-half-stars
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.

I blame Kara for this one. During BEA, she was bound and determined to nab this one while we were attending the conference. I was skeptical at the start, but when I read that it was centered on witchcraft, my interest was piqued.

Salt & Storm wasn’t a terrible book. It was different, and gritty, and I have a healthy respect for the tough cookie stories.  However, there were a few small details that seemed to rub me the wrong way regarding the technical aspects of the novel.

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The main character bordered between likable and detestable. I enjoyed reading about a female protagonist that could hold her own in a very brutal and male-centered environment.  She knew what she wanted, and she went for it.  It was also a huge relief to see a book center a conflict on something outside of “get the boymeat”. Romance did pop up in the story, but it wasn’t the sole reason for the plot. Morality debates for and against the practice of whale blubber harvesting cropped up, while the other dilemma focused on the delicate nature of female dynamics of the family. However, Avery could come across as cruel and self centered.  I didn’t agree with all of her actions, but she was true to her character, and the author was unapologetic with the protagonist’s personality. Kudos to you, Kulper.

I confess that I HATED to read about the whaling ships and the whaling industry.

However, I could understand why people tended to look the other back at the height of whale harvesting popularity. (Note: There is no excuse for it in today’s society. It was the main source of fuel for people back then, and people were simply trying to get by. It could come to a stop now, and we have forms of energy that is less cruel that whaling. I AM NOT PRO-DEAD WHALES).  With that out of the way, I thought it was interesting that the author wrote a fair and balanced argument in the book. Avery’s own moral struggle added some depth to the novel.

Regarding the love interest, he never seemed to grow on me. In a formulaic way, he fit perfectly into the story, and I always love to see some diversity in a YA book. However,  I was more engrossed in the relationship between the grandmother and the mother of Avery, and I felt that the romance, at times, took away from a bigger issue in the story. I’m not going to come down too hard on the romance, because it did play a critical role in the book. At least the amorous plot served a purpose.

Zap – no insta-love found here!

Besides toting a more sinister feel, the GUTSY plot twist really shocked me. It takes some nerves of steel to write the ending of the story as is. We need a little less fluff and more grit in our reading diet. If you feel worn out by gooey gum-drop books, pick this one up to refresh your palette.

Cool Lyn fact: I was always the weird little girl who loves collecting things off the ground, and I often brewed odd things in glass jars with grass and junk in hopes of making magic. I was a strange little one, I know.  I enjoyed the subtle explanation of witchcraft and the morals held by the witchfolk of Salt & Storm.  I highly enjoy reading about Earth debris used for spells and charms. It stirred the interest of the 10 year old who put dandelions and a bird nest into a Pace jar to make a happy potion.

The biggest issue I kept running into over and over was the repetition in the story. I think half of the writing was dedicated to Avery’s life statement. I suppose this was set up the one-track traits of Avery, but I was positive that I understood the goal of the main character.  I was irritated to read about it multiple times.

…and over and over and over…

Also, animal cruelty warning.

The ending, while it was very enthralling, drug on a little too long.  I was speed reading the last portion of the book, because it never seemed to end.

The writing: another on-the-fence element.  On one hand, the writing felt raw and dangerous, mirroring the themes of the story, but on the other hand, it felt a tad bit heavy handed and stifling during other parts.

Conclusion

Salt & Storm is a heavier YA book, but that doesn’t make it a poor choice.  The dark atmosphere and morality debates will stir up some authentic emotions. I found a book that used family dynamics and personal sacrifice a refreshing paranormal read.  The paranormal theme is subtle yet strong, and if you can overlook some minor issues, this book will worm its way right into your heart and mind.

 

lyn

12 responses to “Book Review: Salt & Storm

  1. I’m sort of glad I was turned down for this now, I had a feeling it was going to delve into whale hunting but I wasn’t sure until I read your review. I just cannot do cruelty to animals…although the witchcraft part sounds cool! I actually was in a “coven” with some girlfriends when I was 12 and we did all sorts of witchy things. Ah, good times:-)
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  2. Yeah, I know. Tane ticked off every goddamn box and that became kind annoying. And I loved those kerosene talks because it alluded to the end of whaling and boy, was I fucking glad of that. On the other hand, I actually enjoyed the whaling talks (whilst hating the whalers in an abstract sense) because of the dynamics-their reliance on witchcraft, how whale ran the country, the boys who weren’t men unless and blah blah Tommy. I liked Tommy. Didja? Ooh and Malcolm. I like smugglers.
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  3. I’m not a fan of animal cruelty but I can stomach it for this book. I’m so exited for salt and storm

    Thanks for the review, lyn
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