September 18, 2014

Salt & Storm - Kendall Kulper

Salt and Storm book cover
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Source/Format: BEA 2014 || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

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. 

Salt & Storm falls into my "gray area" for novels. There were things I really liked, including the magic, the whaling, and the Prince Island setting. There were things I liked but had reservations about, like Avery, Tane, and Avery's relationships with the women in her family (her grandmother and mother). But the story itself, pacing and plot, is what leaves me with mixed feelings about Salt & Storm.

The premise is simple: Avery Roe wants to be a witch like her grandmother and the other women of the Roe line, but her mother refuses to let her. Avery's struggle to break free of her mother's restraints, to unleash her magic, to do what she feels is her destiny as a Roe girl - these things are certainly a direct point of interest for readers right off the bat. And Avery herself is intriguing, because she's strong and gifted, and yet vulnerable by being trapped. It's easy to admire the fact that she didn't give up, as well as how she truly believes it's her duty and destiny to be the witch that helps her Islanders.

But there comes a time when the pacing falters, even though Tane, the tattooed harpoon boy, shows up. Salt & Storm becomes a cycle of Avery's repeated attempts to escape, to unleash magic, to understand the inheritance she has, and to nurture her ties to Tane. The author's attempts to leave readers in the dark about the resolution works in keeping the mystery, but fails to maintain the reader's attention consistently. It turned out alright by the end, but the pacing definitely had my interest doing starts and stops.

In her debut novel, Kulper manages to woo readers with her setting, her magical lore and her characters. Though the pacing left me conflicted towards Salt & Storm, it's still pretty safe to say that it was a fairly good read. 

If you were a Roe witch, what would your ability be?

I'm going to be honest and tell you that the first ability that came to mind when I thought of my answer for this question was manipulating the weather. I'm a nature girl at heart, and find myself at ease surrounded by what the earth's got to offer. To me, manipulating the weather is just part of being connected to the earth and its elements, and I think that'd be cool! Plus, you know, it'd be awesome to make it be whatever weather I desired.


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