In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.
Genre: YA Fantasy; Retellings; Horror
Page count: 349 (ebook); 416 (Paperback)
Year of publication: 2019
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (2.75/5)
“We are born of the Salt, we live by the Salt, and to the Salt we return.”
Hear me out, the premise of the book is quite interesting.
But the whole thing as a whole? Kinda weak.
At first, it reminded me of that beautiful H.C. Andersen tale about the eleven princes who were turned into swans by their evil stepmother and quite frankly, I loved that story and I wanted this book to be like that.
But oh well. I wasn’t lucky enough, apparently.
This salty and sorrowful story did have that young, two-faced stepmother cliché and the ungodly amount of children a sort-of royal family has in fairy tales (twelve children!! TWELVE!!), but that was about it.
That was where my fairy tale ended, sadly.
There is something I find unappealing about the idea of someone being cursed and they acknowledging that and making it sound like a fabulous tragedy (“Oh, yes! I’m cursed! Cursed for life! And there is nothing to do about it! Nothing!! I’ll have to sit here and wait until this curse takes me too!”). It seems forced and superficial. Just saying.
Even though the story somehow manages to become more gruesome (it’s labelled as horror somehow??), I wished the plot was more substantial.
The themes got all blurry, not exactly making neither the action better, nor the characters, which is not great if you give it a thought or two.
The book seems endless because of the slightly unimportant passages that could have been better cut down to only a few phrases instead of whole chapters. Because of this, I lost interest in the storyline, the narrative became dull.
Given the fact that there was a ‘mysterious killer’ hiding through the pages of this book, when the moment came and the big unmasking scene was in its full glory, I can honestly say I was (still) unimpressed.
I saw that coming from miles away.
Honest to the god of sea and salt now, I wanted this book to be badass but, unfortunately, it wasn’t.
I wanted something to hold on to, and I found only crumbs. Which were better than nothing anyway.
I needed more from this, because the whole idea was so interesting and could’ve been better speculated.
All I have to say now is that for a book about the sea, the whole plot was missing depth.
But hey. On the bright side – just look at how gorgeous that cover is!
“All the dreamers are castle-bound. At midnight’s stroke, we will unwind, Revealing fantasies soft or unkind. Show me debauched nightmares or sunniest daydreams. Come not as you are but as you wish to be seen.”