Friday, 18 July 2014

Review: The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper
Publisher: Orchard Books
Released: September 4th 2014
My Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother - the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic - steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe's power.

The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches' help to thrive.

Avery has never read a dream that hasn't come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.

A sweeping romance with a spellbinding twist - from a talented new voice in YA fiction.
(from Goodreads)

2014 has not been a good year for books for me. I have read some brilliant ones, but I've also had a lot more 1 and 2 stars than usual and unfortunately, The Witch of Salt and Storm is another for the 2 star category. I didn't loathe it, but I just don't think it's worth reading.

Avery was just a ridiculous character. Absolutely nothing about her made any sense. She was desperate, absolutely desperate, to become the next Roe witch, and I didn't understand why at all. She basically hated the people she would have been helping, she lived with her grandmother scraping by for twelve years and was barely taught ANYTHING about Roe witch magic and yet it was her life. Watching her grandmother suffer pain to use her magic and living in a tiny cottage with barely anything of her own was apparently her ideal life that she longed for, despite the fact she didn't even know what she would have to give up to become a Roe witch. I know she didn't know any better, but it was like some kind of weird brainwashing. She kept talking about her attachment to the island and not being able to leave; did that mean Roe witches only wanted to be Roe witches because of some weird magic that bound them? And THEN, after her mother took her away and tried to keep her away from magic, she didn't question why at all, she just immediately hated her mother and kept banging on about how one day she'd return and become the new Roe witch and take over from her grandmother. Except, she didn't ever try to leave to go back for FOUR years and even then it was only because of the dream she had that said she would die. And don't even get me started on the dream-telling crap, because that made even less sense. So apparently Avery had never been wrong, had never ever interpreted a dream incorrectly (by the way, we're never told how dream-telling works at all, Avery just KNEW what they meant), her OWN grandmother REJECTED her on the basis of this dream and yet suddenly later on her dreams just started changing for no discernible reason, and the dreams had choices and it was never explained why and then suddenly because the way the dreams had changed, Avery's interpretations became uncertain and ugh I can't explain to you how much this annoyed me. You can't have literal interpretations for dreams for 16 years and then suddenly say something was meant SYMBOLICALLY, not literally, in order to explain away something that happened.

But that's not all, oh no. Avery was one of those characters who ruins their friend's life asking for their help and then just doesn't care at all because at least they're not dead, right, and then completely forgets about that character until they're mentioned again briefly. This is so common in books. Characters ask for a friend's help, the friend does their best and then their life is literally ruined because of it, but oh, they never blame the protagonist ever because they're just such loyal and good friends, and the protagonist only feels guilty for like, five seconds, and it seriously annoys me. Don't use secondary characters in this way, just to serve a protagonist's storyline! It's not fair. And not only was Avery a life-ruiner, she was an idiot. Her mother CLEARLY had reasons for what she did, and yet when she tried to explain, Avery just refused to listen and refused to believe her, even though by doing so she was ENDANGERING HER OWN LIFE AS WELL AS TANE'S because she was just a stubborn brat who couldn't deal with the truth. I just wanted to shout at her "you stupid fool, if you can use magic, then your mother did tell the truth about the source of your power which means it IS pain and she's NOT BLOODY LYING so listen to her!". Not that her mother was perfect, because oh my God, if she had LITERALLY JUST TOLD AVERY EVERYTHING FROM THE START, none of this would have happened. "Oh, you wouldn't have listened!" is NOT an excuse to keep someone completely in the dark about their own future - that's just never a good idea! You don't know they wouldn't have listened! If you'd raised them with this knowledge from a young age, EVERYTHING could have been different. For God's sake, the whole book was premised on miscommunication. If the characters just TALKED TO EACH OTHER, the whole thing would never have happened.

This brings me on to Tane, the love interest who was boring as hell. Even his revenge story wasn't interesting. And their relationship was complete insta-love. They had known each other for a few days and suddenly they were both willing to die for each other. And Avery kept trying to convince herself with her "oh, Tane would never hurt me" while being in denial about her mother's story, and I just wanted to laugh. Even if there wasn't a bloody evil curse on him, even if the same thing hadn't happened with her mother and grandmother and every other Roe witch, where did she get the confidence to say that he would never hurt her? She'd known him two seconds, he could be a murderer for all she knew, it's not exactly hard to deceive someone.

Plot-wise, oh dear. Much like the rest of the book, little made sense. Apparently, pain activated magic. Really. So how did the first Roe witch know how to get magic? Was it an accident? Why don't all people who suffer pain get magic then? Why is it only Roe witches? What was special about the first Roe witch? Are there other witches out there who function in the same way? Are you just born with the ability for magic? There was so much confusion over Avery's powers as well; was she the Roe witch? Wasn't she? If she wasn't, how could she control the storm? Maybe by that point I was just in a bad mood and didn't read it properly, but I was confused. Honestly, not a lot actually happened, and I didn't really even care much about Avery trying to prevent her murder because I couldn't have cared less if she died. Or Tane died. Or anyone died. The only reason this is a 2 star review and not a 1 star review, is because I did like the world-building (well, the idea of the world as I wasn't a huge fan of the writing; a bit too descriptive and over-dramatic for me), and I liked the idea of someone dreaming about their own murder. Basically, I'm giving it a star for the potential it had. And also maybe because I really love the cover.

Overall, I didn't like this book. I don't recommend it. I do believe many other people really enjoyed this one, so if you do feel like giving it a chance, my advice is to borrow it from a friend or get it from the library first. 

3 comments:

  1. Ah no! I'm sad you didn't like this because I've heard so many good things about it, but a lot of the things that you say about it generally not making much sense annoy me too so I might give it a miss. Great review!

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  2. The anger! The frustration! The use of British vernacular!

    I know what you mean, going through spells where it's almost impossible to find a decent book to read. I always started feeling like a demon when that happened, because clearly it had to be me right? Not the fact that it was an awful book.

    Annnyways. #endrant

    Gonna give this one a pass. I cannot abide by useless/irritating/love sick characters or poor plots or instalove or basically anything you mentioned in your review. A shame, though, because the title sounds so cool and the cover is nifty.

    Great review!!

    Amelia | The Authoress

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  3. The cover of this book is so pretty. Sorry to hear the inside didn't live up to it for you, though.

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