Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

Posted August 12, 2021 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

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Salt & Storm

Salt & Storm

by Kendall Kulper

Series: Salt & Storm #1
Publisher: Little Brown and Company on September 23, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Paranormal, Romance, Witches
Target Age Group: New Adult, Young Adult
Representation: AAPI, Pacific Islander
Content Warnings: Abandonment, Death, Domestic Abuse, Kidnapping, Self-Harm

Rating: ★★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads or buy the book at Bookshop.org

You don't know what you must give up to become a witch.

Avery Roe wants only to claim her birthright as the witch of Prince Island and to make the charms that have kept the island's sailors safe at sea for generations, but instead she is held prisoner by her mother in a magic-free life of proper manners and respectability.

Avery thinks escape is just a matter of time, but when she has a harrowing nightmare, she can see what it means: She will be killed. She will be murdered. And she's never been wrong before.

Desperate to change her future, Avery finds a surprising ally in Tane—a tattooed harpoon boy with magic of his own, who moves her in ways she never expected. But as time runs out to unlock her magic and save herself, Avery discovers that becoming a witch requires unimaginable sacrifice.

Avery walks the knife's edge between choice and destiny in Kendall Kulper's sweeping debut: the story of one girl's fight to survive the rising storm of first love and family secrets.

 

I have some mixed feelings about Salt and Storm, but I will say that I liked it more than I expected to. My anticipation of reading this book has been a bit of a rollercoaster since I added it to my TBR, and I am glad that it impressed me more than I expected. There is not a lot of unique stuff going on in this book, but it hit the right points for me and told the type of story that I like to read from time to time.

My biggest complaint about Salt and Storm is the narrative voice. The language is a bit stiff and we spend a lot of time in the protagonist’s head. I think I would have had a lot less patience with this book if I had listened to the audiobook instead of reading a physical copy. The setting of the island isn’t well described, but its history and vocation is clear enough to build a community picture if not a landscape.

In general, Salt and Storm suffers from amateur writing. Everything could do with a little more fleshing out. The characters are one-dimensional and the storytelling is one-dimensional. Nothing is particularly surprising in the plot, although there are good ideas even if not surprising ones.

The main reason I am being so lenient about this book is because atmospherically and story-trope-wise, this is one of my favourite types of witchy books to read. Salt and Storm tells the story of a line of witches who have been both gifted and cursed. Like the best sorts of these stories, the tragic love life of the witches takes front and centre. The perspective of Avery and her family is a little different than many of the countryside witches that I have read recently in other books. This is an historical fiction account, and it takes place during the 19th century. Whaling is a prevalent occupation, and outside of things like Moby Dick, you rarely see this career as front and centre. I appreciated the way Kulper dealt with this – she was honest about the gruesomeness of the occupation well not being overly grotesque in her writing and not justifying the occupation. This was simply the part of history this story settled in, and she set out to tell the truth, but in Avery‘s eyes she also empowered the animals instead of their murderers, which I appreciated.

Honestly, I am really just a sucker for seaside witches. As a bonus, Salt and Storm takes place about 50 miles from where I live, which means that a lot of the shortcomings in the world building in this book are easily filled in by my own imagination. As a result, this book may have worked better for me than it would many others. The writing is, objectively, a bit lacking and there were certainly genre cliches, but I would recommend this book to the right reader.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★ 1/2
Plot: ★★★ 1/2
Characters: ★★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★★
Pacing: ★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★

three and a half star rating

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Salt & Storm Stays on the Shelf

Salt & Storm made the cut – but only just barely.  As I said in my review, this isn’t a spectacularly-written novel. There’s a lot of technical flaws to the book that make it less than extraordinary.  For me, it’s all about the subject and atmosphere – I love witchy books.  There’s a few different feels to books with magic users, and Salt & Storm really nails that countryside witch feel that I like best.

I know I’ll read Salt & Storm again someday, probably as a mood read.

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Would you want to know the true meaning of your dreams?  In Salt & Storm, Avery is a dream diviner and knows the true meanings of prophetic dreams.  I think on paper I’d want to know, but in reality, it would be a bit unnerving, especially the bad dreams.  What about you?  Share your thoughts the comments!

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2 responses to “Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

    • Amber

      It’s funny, it gets such a low rating on Goodreads that I was expecting to really dislike it. It’s definitely a niche book!