The Witch of Salt and Storm
By Kendall Kulper
Published September 2014
Reviewed by Naomi Dinmore
I am now back from my cold (but beautiful) British summer holiday in the Cornish countryside, where this (I thought) would be pretty appropriate summer reading since I was staying by the absolutely freeeeezing sea. Good way to empathise with the protagonist, in my opinion. I must apologise in advance for this - I may miss out a few things since my reading time was often interrupted by my brother wanting to play cards with me (yes, his punishment is awaiting; he should know not to interrupt me by now) but it will be as thorough as I can manage without too many spoilers…
The Witch Of Salt And Storm is set on a cold island named “Prince Island” in the violent Atlantic near North America. Although the book is set in Victorian times, this is not poignant and I only realised this when it specifically referenced the era. In my opinion, I feel the descriptions should extend to all parts of the novel, even details that aren’t important like the era. (However, that is not too much of a problem - I’m just being pernickety. Or maybe I’m just thick and didn’t notice it.)
The protagonist, Avery, is destined to become the ”Witch” of the Island, to protect the whalers, the fishermen and their families that call the Island home - just like Avery’s grandmother before her. Avery believes that that is the only way she would feel happy and satisfied.
But there is one small problem. Avery is trapped in her home by her mother who is determined not to let her daughter become the witch (for reasons that will be revealed towards the end of the novel). To escape from her mother’s clutches is very tricky, especially since she had magical powers, too.
Avery and her female ancestors before her all had specific powers as well. Avery’s gift is to interpret dreams and on many occasions she had gone behind her mother’s back to use her talent and earn some cash for herself (not that she needed any; her mother’s husband was loaded.) It all changes at the start of the book where she witnesses her own murder in a dream. (Yes, it is quite dark, but I like that kind of stuff.)
Immediately she wants to take action and learn from her grandmother before it is too late and the witches die out. Obviously, she cannot escape.
And then she meets foreigner Tane. He also has magical powers that could help her escape. How convenient.
This was the point in the novel where I didn’t really like Avery. She turned from a headstrong, defiant, independent girl into an in-love, helpless, almost Bella-Swan-like girl. (I apologise, Twilight fans, but this was an accurate comparison.) Now I am quite a feminist myself, so this was quite a disappointing turn in the book. In fact, if it wasn’t for the dark interesting plot, I would have put it down. I also wanted to see how her actual murder was described.
Gradually, Avery and Tane grew on me, but not entirely. I guess their love seemed too perfect to be realistic (and this is a book about witches for goodness’ sake). Their bond was sweet and their love was strong, but they were only teenagers. (And I think ”in the arms of the boyI loved” sounds silly, instead of ”man” - which implies that their love was more mature.)
There’s a big chunk in the middle of the book where it all seems to be a blur - where the plot decelerates and their relationship seems to take priority - I barely remember it to be honest. [SORRY, SPOILER] It is only when Avery’s grandmother dies everything surges forward again. Avery becomes a strong character and a strong girl again and I started enjoying the book again.
I was prepared to be devastated at the murder scene, but I was a bit disappointed really. Maybe I’m just an emotionless robot. Not as feels-messing as I’m used to really. (Thanks, John Green, Steven Moffatt, Merlin producers etc)
I don’t know, maybe you like books more focused on the love rather than the plot. In which case, you might like Salt and Storm.
I didn’t like it, nor did I dislike it either. If somebody asked for my opinion, I would just say: “Meh.” But that’s not to say whether you’ll like it or not.