Salt & Storm
by Kendall Kulper.
Salt & Storm is the story of Avery Roe, latest in a long line of witches inhabiting Prince Island. They have helped keep the island’s sailors safe for generations, and are both feared and respected. While Avery has the ability to interpret dreams, she has yet to come into her full power as a witch. Her grandmother is waiting for her to take over and willing to teach her, but her mother has left that life behind and forbids Avery from communicating with her. When Avery has a dream that foretells her own murder, desperation drivers her to somehow reach her grandmother and finally learn how to become a full witch. With the help of an old friend and an unexpected new ally, she sets out to escape her mother’s clutches and fulfill her destiny as the next Roe witch.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked how the author conveyed the atmosphere of the island, and Avery as the main protagonist is engaging. And I liked the core idea of an island with a lineage of witches who never marry and never leave, and their connection to the place. The romance plot line was pretty typical for YA – namely, they go from strangers to so-in-love ridiculously quick. Part of it is the age of the characters, and part the YA genre expectations/tropes. It annoys me a bit as an adult, but I understand it and can for the most part just shrug it off.
The pace of the book felt off, though; it was such a slow build for much of it, and then wham everything happens at once. There was no in-between. Also, when it’s finally revealed how Avery can become a witch and the details of the curse on the Roe women, the latter seemed to come out of nowhere. It was never explained how or why they were cursed in the first place. And the end was really unsatisfying. I won’t say any more about it, to avoid spoilers, but I was really shocked when I looked on Goodreads and saw that no, this isn’t part of a series, it’s a standalone. That really was The End.
So, overall… I don’t know. I liked it more than I disliked it, and it did pull me in and keep me reading. But I was also left vexed and dissatisfied with how it wrapped up (or lack thereof). So I guess my advice would be Read At Your Own Risk, if you like YA historical fiction with fantasy elements.