Sunday, July 13, 2014

Puns, Whales, & Tattoos: Review of Salt & Storm

Salt & StormTitle: Salt & Storm
Author: Kendall Kulper
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Genre: YA Paranormal
A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

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.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for. -Goodreads

3 Stars
Thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown for this copy, which did not affect my review in any way.

Salt & Storm was weird as hell. Whether that's a good or bad thing is completely debatable.

There are those books that no matter how many battles, how many risks they take, how much danger they're in, the reader knows that in the end, the characters will end up all right. Sure, there is always that near-death moment where the author tries to convince us that the protagonist is about to die and we should be gripping the book for fear of this, but if you've read a variety of YA books you can easily see through this ploy.

Some authors, though, are not afraid to put their characters through trials. Heck, they might be cackling maniacally while one of their characters is dying a tragic death. In my opinion, that's one of the qualities in a great novelist. Kulper clearly is not afraid to cross the boundaries of the young adult genre and make her own rules.
I haven't read any of his books, but I've heard he's pretty cruel...
So, yeah, if you're expecting a rainbows-and-sunshine novel, you're in for a BIG surprise.

I don't really know how to explain this novel. There are whales,
Witches, and... tattoos. Did I already say this is a weird book?

I'll start out with the most distinguishing trait, in my eyes, of Salt & Storm: the writing. The abundance of and's bothered me a bit at first, and it took me a while to get used to. Though, there are some beautiful pieces of writing in this book, describing the salty sea air and the lighthouse and ships expertly and poetically. The prose slowed down the narrative at times, especially in the beginning, so I would completely understand if someone were to DNF the novel. A few times the author would go off on tangents about God knows what, and I wouldn't be able to pay attention because the writing was somewhat confusing. My main complaint is, however, that there wasn't a variety in sentence structure. They were all just extremely long.

The characters were... an interesting cast, to put it nicely. They all had screwed-up lives, and they all either a)made really dumb and rash decisions or b)got psychotically angry - especially the main character, Avery. The focus of the story is her, and before you say "obviously," I mean the novel gave her complete attention and failed to develop the other characters-the grandma, Tommy, the mother. Kulper did do a decent job in exploring Tane's character, but that was it.

(Sidenote: Avery was unintentionally hilarious. She threw fits and got mad for the smallest of reasons. She kind of reminds me of Ananna from The Assassin's Curse.)

Moreover, while the characters weren't as developed as I'd hoped they had been, the character relationships were even worse. Like I said, the scope was only on Avery and her relationships weren't explored very well. I can say with certainty, though, that the entire island is quite dysfunctional.

As for the magic of the Roes, namely Avery, the nature of the magic itself wasn't explained in depth. I guess witch magic is meant to be mysterious and inexplicable so it's pardonable, especially since the author put a lot of effort into describing what the magic felt like.

The historical fiction was probably the best part of the novel. I loved that the author included a Maori-like character and created a fictional island based on a real Polynesian island. Also, at first I wasn't sure why Avery was so obsessed with whales, but thankfully it was covered later on or else I would've continued thinking she was a total loon (Can you blame me? She yelled at herself in the mirror for like an hour. Odd).

Surprise, surprise. I cried in this book. And I'm not embarrassed to admit it. Remember when I said the author doesn't really care about rules? Well, she broke the unwritten-but-well-known YA rule: NEVER KILL OFF A MAIN CHARACTER (not a spoiler-I'm speaking in general terms). Not sure how I feel about this, but yay for rule-breaking.

I feel like I've named so many more negatives than positives of Salt & Storm, even though I believe that the pros and cons equal each other out. But I really think it's one of the better novels out there on witches. (Unlike that Witchstruck book *shudders*)

I could go on and on about this book, because there is just so much to discuss. But to sum it up: If you appreciate the weird and possess a strange liking for whales, then maybe you should give this a shot. If you're tired of the same ol' plot-lines and want something fresh, then go for this. But I must warn you, be prepared to cry at the end, and die from boredom at the start.

1 comment:

  1. I've been on the look out for some good witch/historical/fantasy books, and this was on the top of my list. After reading your review, I'm not too sure now! it sounds very strange!