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 whale men 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, stole Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape from her mother before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roes’ power.
When Avery awakens from a dream foretelling her own murder, she realizes time is running short—for her and for the people of her island, who, without the Roes, will lose their ships and the only life they know.
With the help of Tane, a tattooed harpoon boy from the Pacific Islands, Avery plots her escape from her mother and unravels the mysteries of her mother’s and grandmother’s pasts. 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—one she might not be able to make.
I recieved an ARC from Netgalley this has in no way shaped my opinion of this book.
Witches are big in YA.
However, about half of the time they fail epically.
The other half. Well, does the name Harry Potter ring a bell. Okay, so part of that series is classified as middle grade and that new short story would be classified as middle adult, but if does right witches/warlock/wizards can be a big hit. So, I was excited about Salt and Storm especially since it was going to be a historical and since one of my favorite childhood books was a historical and was about witches (sort of), I was interested in reading Salt & Storm.
The result though…
Yeah, I don’t know. There were some lovely things about this book, but at the same time there were some fundamental flaws with Kulper’s novel.
I’ll start with the good first. The world is nicely formed. It’s lush. You really get the island atmosphere and even though the prose can feel a bit tedious at times, it does add to the mood of the story. I really felt like I got to know the small island enough and how the magic in Avery’s family worked.
Another nice thing about this book, was that it wasn’t a walking cliche. I didn’t expect the ending it had. And even though I’m sure that there are some people who won’t like it, it worked enough for me. Sure, I wasn’t exactly happy with the choice that Kulper made. But it tied the story up nicely, and I think (well, 98% sure) that this book is a standalone. That is rare in YA where most everything is a trilogy, but I like the sense of having a sense of finality after one installment for a change.
And now for the bad…
Yeah, I know. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but I have to say there were lots of things about this one that bothered me. And for awhile I wondered if it was just me. And maybe it was, but I’m still going to talk about them.
1) The Character Avery:
I just couldn’t get her or her motivations. Yes, I get she wants to be a witch. But why? She doesn’t seem to have that many connections with most of the islanders. And while we are told over and over again that magic’s in her blood, I don’t get how she feels incomplete.
At times I’d almost say she was TSTL, but I don’t know if that’s so much about the character or about the overall plot structure. Based on the way the novel is shaped, I understand why Kulper has shaped the novel the way she did-especially since this seems to be a standalone, but at the same time it just doesn’t work. It makes the main character, Avery, seem dumb and unlikable.
2) The Plot Itself:
Sigh. It worked, but it didn’t. Overall, there is a simple arc to the story. I think what bothered me about the plot was the fact that it was, in essence, sort of simple but disjointed at the same time.
This probably once again is because it’s a standalone.
And I hate complaining about this book for this reason, because YA is in desperate need of standalones, but the pacing really did feel whacked because of what Kulper was trying to accomplish. Also, it probably didn’t help that the first half moved at a snail’s pace.
As for the actual story, I don’t know. I thought it really didn’t focus on witchcraft in the way I wanted to. It was more about I want to be a witch and then I don’t want to be a witch.
The magic itself: not so magical.
3) The Love Interest:
Well, props for having a diverse love interest.
Minus big points for having it be essentially insta love.
Once again, the relationship seems rushed in order to finish the story. But even if this book was-say would’ve been expanded into a series-I still don’t think I’d see the chemistry between these two. In fact, the relationship is so fragmented that I think the mother’s five page romantic history made more sense than the relationship between Avery and her insta love.
4) The Last Fourth of the Book:
Seriously. It sort of changed the whole tone that the book was trying to earlier to establish. Once again, I think this goes back to the overall structure of the novel. If things were emphasized earlier on, the ending would’ve made more sense.
Overall, this isn’t a horrible book. It has its moments and in a lot of ways it really did work. However, at the same time there were some problems with the structure that made Salt & Storm a little less than perfect.
Overall Rating: C+