Disclaimer: this review is NOT SPOILER FREE! I was given an e-ARC through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. What follows is an unpaid review and reflects my views based on my experience reading only. For the spoiler free review, check out my socials!
A Game of Gods and Curses.
House of Salt and Sorrows is a mystery loosely based on the classic: Twelve Dancing Princesses. It revolves around the Thaumas family—a prominent family in the island of Salten; whose inhabitants follow their deity: the sea god. The family is ruined to be followedby a curse which kill each of the Thaumas Twelve—the females of the family in turn. With the recent death of her sister, Analeigh is forced to break the curse with the news of a new brother on the way. Thrust into a web of lies, deceit and mystery, she tries to uncover the truth behind the recent death of her sister while trying not to follow.
My review will be written in five parts: character-building, world-building, theme, plot and conclusion. It should be noted that my views of this book might not be the same as other readers and do not reflect upon anyone else's views.
Part I. Character Building
I will start by saying that I began the book not particularly feeling a connection with Analeigh. I did not dislike her, nor did I particularly find her character interesting. I felt like at the funeral—which was the "opening scene", there were a lot of emotions and that the author tried to convey what Analeigh was feeling perfectly well but she had begun as such an "unfeeling" character that I felt quite disconnected with her. I felt as though every move she made was for show—to me or the reader particularly, not to the characters around her. I felt as though the author tried to create a layer in which Analeigh was complicated and fell flat, not far from what I would describe as reaching.
I also felt that the characters were often either not focused on enough to truly create a connection or understanding on what kind of personalities they have, or they were written with radically changing personalities which is quite confusing to read about even if you try to think about them being human and that they can change; it still felt as though the author was trying to write the characters into different people to better fit the plot.
On the other hand, I can't truly say that I didn't enjoy reading about the different Thaumases, especially their deaths. I feel that they were interesting enough to have kept me going at least until I found out what happened to everyone.
Circling back to my first point, I felt that throughout the book, Analeigh was a standard, cookie-cutter heroine. She is described as being someone who is not a typical girl for their time—which isn't a bad thing most of the time, but here, with the poorly written sequence to her building up to the climax, she got lost in being "different".
Part II. World-Building
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I was confused. Not at first, I had gotten the grip of Salten's ways and their beliefs quite quickly, but once there was mention of god children lurking, I got a bit confused. At first I thought it was just a way for them to epress themselves or common town folk talk and spread around rumors of something happening. But then I was completely surprised to find out that Analeigh's love interest is a child of a God. It felt surprising and like it was just added in to keep the plot going. However, I did feel like the story was written in such a way that everything was described satisfactorily enough that I didn't have too much trouble envisioning what the author was telling me to.
Part III. Theme
At first, I didn't know that the story was a retelling, I hadn't read the synopsis or researched about the book when I requested it. I just knew it sounded like it was going to be a story that I liked. So I went in without a clue what to expect. It wasn't until much later that I realized that it was a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses; albeit quite a stretch from the original story. I normally shy away from retellings but I feel like this one was so loosely told that I didn't mind it at all.
The murder mystery theme was also quite prevalent throughout the book and I loved the potential of the story.
Part IV. Plot
The plot felt a little like it was something written as the author went. It did not feel like it had a general direction at all at first, and most certainly did not feel like it at the end of the book. It felt as though the information added in was put in as an afterthought rather than something that was planned as a part of the story. Normally, that wouldn't have bothered me as long as it's cohesive and makes sense. Unfortunately, in this case, it didn't make any sense to me at all and felt more like "filler" material.
Part V. Conclusion
To be fair, I did enjoy bits of the novel. However, I did find myself skimming through most parts of the story. I hadn't guessed who the antagonist was quickly and that; I feel, is a great part of a murder mystery. The story stretched on at an incredibly slow pace with most of it containing filler content. Overall, I was not a big fan of this book but it was something that I did manage to finish and enjoy a little bit.
Final Rating: 🌟🌟🌟