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The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall…

The Witch of Salt and Storm

by Kendall Kulper

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**ARC courtesy of Netgalley**

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Because I could read dreams and I knew what it meant to dream I was a whale, to dream of men trapping me, hunting me, piercing me with harpoons and leaving me to drown in my own blood.
I will be killed. I will be murdered.
I've never been wrong before."

There's only one word that can be used to describe this book: feelings. So many feelings. At first, I was rather sceptical -- it was a slow, jolting start and I wondered whether I was the problem or the book's pace was.

However, once I struggled through that part, it quickly became obvious that it was unputdownable. (Let's pretend that's an actual word for a minute.)

As Nenia Campbell pointed out in her review, this isn't exactly a "sweeping, historical romance". Love plays are large role in this book, but the actual romance between Avery Roe and the harpoon boy Tane is a plot line, but not the plot. Which is great. How many times have novels with great potential been trampled because they focused too much on the romance, but not the plot? The plot is quite thick and doesn't falter:

"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."

Intrigued? You ain't seen nothing yet.

The Setting

I was incredibly pleased with the setting and time this book was placed in. An island with a thick legend of witches? Generations of magic that keep the whaling jobs upright? A historical setting that won't bore you to tears, nor make you question every other point for accuracy? Sign me up!

The best thing about it is that there isn't much info-dumping. If I could pick one thing that I see as a major turn-off in books, it would be unnecessary info-dumping wherever you turn, which is quite common in historical books. The Witch of Salt & Storm though manages to give you the information you need without boring you to tears or making you place this gem "on hold" for God knows how long. What's even greater is that every part of the island is described with a little bit of history, in the sweeping, poetic narration that is Kendall Kulper's writing and you fall in love with every part of it. It's fan-bloody-tastic.

Oh, thy pretty story speaks.

Avery Roe comes from a long line of witches. These witches live at the top of Prince Island and their sole purpose in life is to provide the islanders (mostly the sailors) with protective magic: a charm for no storms, a charm for an unsinkable ship, a charm for safety and strength.

But Avery was taken away by her mother and forced to live the life a common rich girl -- parties, pretty dresses, long walks in the park... you get the picture. She knows, though, that when the time comes, she must return to her grandmother and learn the secrets of the trade.

And she can't wait.

The problem? Her mother (who has given up witchcraft unless it suits her) is hell-bent on keeping Avery away from magic and will do everything to keep her safe... even cursing her so thinking about running away causes her an inordinate amount of pain.

But Avery can read dreams. Her latest dream tells her that she will die... murdered.

There's a huge sense of urgency in this book and the tension is thick enough to cut with a knife.

Avery tries and tries again to run away and return to her grandmother and learn the magic, but with a dream that tells her she will die and the curse that stops her from leaving has her turning, blindly, for help from the strange, tattooed harpoon boy, Tane. He has magic of his own and together, they're unstoppable... nearly.

Think, I told myself. The cottage, the escape. I closed my eyes and tried to block out the pain, the feeling of Tane's skin, and I took a step. Then another. Another. Refocus! The cottage! The escape! But I did not black out. I did not stumble or fade away, but instead my fresh tattoo throbbed, sweet pain that whispered to me that I was, at last, free.

The story is plot-driven but the way it's written (I can almost compare Kulper's writing to Laini Taylor's. It's poetic, sweet and, although it sounds corny, musical) it sweeps you in along with Avery and soon, you'll find yourself rooting for an outcome that might never happen.

The fabulous characters

One popular complaint in YA these days is that characters come across as cardboard cut-outs, boring, flat and naive. In fact, there are more negative aspects of YA characters than there are positives.

So you could say I was pleasantly surprised when I found that the characters in The Witch of Salt & Storm were anything BUT boring. Each and every one of them had a history, a reason, a story to share. Essie Roe, Avery's mother, who's scar deformed her beautiful face; Grandmother Roe, who's pain could create the strongest charms and even Avery herself, who's dream-telling both haunted and pleased her, who wants nothing more than to run back to her grandmother and learn the tricks of the trade.

Needless to say, there isn't a quiet moment with the characters. Something is always happening, someone always has a story to tell and it keeps you both on your toes and racing through the story.

5/5 stars. No complaints. Absolutely stunning read.
( )
  Aly_Locatelli | Jan 26, 2015 |
I received a copy from Netgalley.

I requested this one on a bit of a whim, the plot sounded a little meh, I figured if I got approved great, and if not no big deal. I wasn't sure what I would make of it. I did get approval, and turned out to be a fantastically written surprising book.

Though the main character, Avery, is one of the most self obsessed, whiny, annoying obnoxious heroines I have come across in a while. That being said, the story is absolutely gripping. I think it must be a mark of remarkably good story telling if the main character is annoying as hell, but you can't put stop reading.

The novel is a historical set on an Island where the Roe Women, a long long line of powerful witches have done magic for their island and helped the sailors and townspeople with their problems. Each Roe women has a special talent for their magic, and Avery's is telling dreams. She herself has a terrible dream which leads to the Roe family curse. The novel centres around Avery desperate to unlock her magic and defeat the curse.

The story is very dark and angsty in tone, and quite hard to read in certain places. Avery comes across as quite selfish and obsessive in her desperation. Even with the boy she gets involved to help her. The islanders play a big part in the world building, everyone knows of the Roe witches and are waiting for Avery to take over. But she's extremely frustrated in trying to beat her curse. Raised for the most part by her Grandmother, whom she has watched perform magic for the Islanders, Avery wants to follow on the line. Her mother turned her back on the tradition of Roe witches.

Its explained in the story why Avery is with her mother and understandably beyond pissed when the mother comes back to claim her daughter. She has a terrible rocky relationship with her mother who wants to keep her away from the family magic but Avery just won't listen. I did feel the constant arguments with the mother got rather repetitive as its the same argument over and over. Avery will not see reason, she has her own goals and wants nothing more to succeed about them. When things don't go her way, she bitches and has hissy fits.

As annoying as that is, the story is so compelling, so gripping and so well told in its narrative...its makes it easy to overlook Avery's personality. Even the romance weaved into the story is full of angst and difficult heartache. Its not tear enduing (at least wasn't to me) but quite painful to see the raw emotion spilling out.

The novel had quite a few twists and turns in the plot and a rather unexpected ending. Definitely worth reading for a YA witch story with something different. A very good book. I will be looking forward to more from this author.

Thank you Netgalley and Hatchette UK Childern's for approving my request to view the title.

Also crosses off a square for my Summer Bingo challenge - Set on an Island. ( )
  sunset_x_cocktail | Aug 20, 2014 |
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Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island. When she foresees her own murder, a harpoon boy named Tane promises to help her change her fate and keep her island safe and prosperous, but salvation will require an unexpected sacrifice.… (more)

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