ARC Review: Salt and Storm

ARC Review: Salt and StormSalt and Storm by Kendall Kulper
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 2014-09-04
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Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother - the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic - steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe's power. The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches' help to thrive. Avery has never read a dream that hasn't come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.
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Salt and Storm is unique, beautifully written, lyrically romantic, and absolutely heartbreaking. I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I started, and I was continually surprised by the twists that kept developing as the story went on.

 

The beginning of Salt and Storm was a little slow. There was a lot of the heroine, Avery Roe, talking about her heritage as a Roe Witch (which involves making charms and spells to protect the sailors on Prince Island, where she’s lived her entire life), and then having weird dreams where she is a whale.

 

Like I said, Salt and Storm is unique.

Anyway, Avery isn’t the Roe Witch yet. She has a special ability to tell what dreams mean (which Prince Island inhabitants happily pay for her for), but her magic has yet to awaken. And because her mother ran from being the Roe Witch, Avery’s grandmother has raised her, teaching her about magic, but not how to do it. Normally, Roe Witches only live to their 40’s, but because Avery’s mother denied her heritage, her grandmother has stuck around to perform those duties. And now Avery’s mother has taken her from her grandmother, locking her in a fancy house with fancy clothes, and even going so far as to putting a spell on Avery to keep her away from the Witch cottage. But then Avery meets a boy who will help her break the spell in exchange for her telling his dreams.

Avery’s world is very small. The only thing she wants out of life is to be the Roe Witch, and anytime someone else tries to get her to think differently, she freaked out. The only person who can get through to her is Tane, the tattooed boy who promises he can help Avery with her mother’s spell. She starts out very wary of him, especially since he has strange magic, something her grandmother has always warned her about, but as they spend more time together, working on spells and telling dreams, she warms to him.

 

I really loved Tane’s character, far more than I liked Avery. He’s got his own issues, but he has a more interesting character arc than Avery. Avery just kind of freaks out about how she’s not getting her way all the time, and it’s pretty annoying. She can’t imagine ANYTHING other than being the Roe Witch. Leaving the island would KILL HER. Granted, she is a pretty dynamic character by the end of the book, but it takes an event of pretty huge magnitude to change her.  But Tane is willing to try new things, willing to explore possibilities, and slowly, very slowly, he helps Avery see that it wouldn’t be so terrible having a different life.

Avery feels a deep responsibility to the people of Prince Island; she wants nothing more than to help them, and her lack of magical ability moves her to do all sorts of crazy things to try to awaken her magic. The islanders have always had a healthy respect for the Roes, but when Avery can’t help them, they turn on her immediately.

 

Salt and Storm thoroughly explores the relationship between Avery and her mother, and the choices her mother made to get her where she is in the novel. Avery hates her mother, but their relationship arc is quite moving by the end of the book.

I’m not going to tell you that Salt and Storm is all sunshine and rainbows, because there are more depressing things in it than happy. But it is a very unique story about a girl who doesn’t know where she belongs and the relationships that shape her decisions for her future. It’s a fascinating look into not only a setting but a lifestyle that is rich in history, magic, and culture. I highly recommend it to fans of historical romance and fantasy.

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