Book Review: The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

30 Dec

witchofsaltandstormAvery Roe is a witch. Or at least she should be, if she could unlock the magic within her. Stolen from her grandmother’s cottage by her mother, Avery has been sheltered from magic. But her grandmother is fading, and someone must continue the Roe Witch line–the sailors on Prince Island depend on magical protection at sea. But when Avery’s ability to interpret dreams tells her of her own death, it seems there is no hope left. Unless a tattooed boy with magic of his own can break her mother’s curse before it’s too late.

Oh, my my my… I don’t know where to start. I’ll say that this was going to be my favourite book of the year.

The Good:

This book is exceptionally well written. I read other reviews that stated that they would have preferred more action. It certainly is a more narrative book, but that’s the sort I love, especially when done correctly. This book was literary. It was a study in what it means to be a good writer: so many beautiful descriptions and sensory details and little analogies–I’m pretty sure there’s more to this book than I was able to get out of it on a first read. Honestly, I was reminded a bit of Patricia C. Wrede who manages these things so excellently that I didn’t think I’d ever find someone quite as good.

Avery herself was an incredible main character. I loved her. She went after what she wanted and made plenty of mistakes along the way and was horribly disappointed at the outcome. She was real. She was refreshing.

The plot kept me turning pages. Not only was it interesting and a bit different from what I normally read, but I could practically hear the clock ticking on Avery’s time. Plus, the ending is unexpected–at least for YA.

The Bad:

The romance. The romance is really a key point in the plot, which makes it a romance I can get behind (if you follow this blog, you know I can get pretty critical of some romances!). But in my opinion, it happened too fast, and the boy who stole Avery’s heart was not developed nearly enough for my liking. If we had gotten to know him a bit better, I think the romance could have soared.

Pet peeve alert. I hate, hate, HATE reading books in present tense. My argument is this: books are stories that are written down. If they have been written down, they have already happened. If they have already happened, they should not be written in present tense. Obviously, the amount of present tense you’ll find these days in YA fiction shows that I’m pretty alone in this opinion, but it doesn’t stop present tense from grating on my nerves.

When an early chapter of Salt and Storm was written in present tense, I panicked and flipped to a page in the middle just to make sure I hadn’t been duped. Sigh of relief–that chapter was only in present tense because it was a dream. Later, other dreams were also written in present tense. This, I can stomach. It’s a way of differentiating between what’s a dream and what isn’t without using other transitions. Fine, because it had a purpose.

But the sudden switch on page 289 to present tense, which was maintained through the rest–nearly a third–of the book? I was tearing. my. hair. out.

My pet peeve aside, the previous use of present tense showed that the author MUST have been intending some deeper meaning with its usage in the last third. The rest of the writing is too smart for this to have been thrown in without reason. But whatever she was aiming for, she missed her mark with me. Clearly, the rest of the book was not a dream. Not a sleep-dream, anyway. Was it a remark on how Avery was accomplishing her life-long dreams? But then I thought the present tense should start even later. How she was in her dream, the one that set the plot into action? I think this is the most likely, but it was slow to click, and I honestly think it’s a statement that flew over the heads of most readers. But then again, other people don’t seem to be as sensitive to present tense as me.

Anyway, I still gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads. If present tense doesn’t bother you, don’t be swayed by my negative comments–this really was an excellent book. But if it annoys you as much as it annoys me, beware.

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One Response to “Book Review: The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper”

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  1. 2014: A Year of Reading in Review | More Than One Page - December 31, 2014

    […] The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper **** […]

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