Review – The Witch of Salt and Storm, Kendall Kulper

I picked this book up on a whim in my local library (where else can one find an obscure collection of genres poorly organised in which you can barely find anything you want to read?) and thought I would share my feelings about it with you all, since I quite enjoyed reading it and who knows? Maybe you will too!

Goodreads summary:

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.

I thought that the setting for this book, an island off the coast of America that serves as a stopping place for whaling ships, was really fascinating. Reading Kulpar’s notes at the end of the book it’s clear she did her research into both the relationship humanity has forged between the sea and magic as well as the practice of whaling and it’s decline in the 19th century. What she really succeeds at doing is bringing magic into the equation, though there is not one kind of magic it would seem to be based in cultural forms, by which I mean certain cultures have certain types of magic. This was handled…reasonably well though I am not from any of the cultures mentioned so I suppose I am not fit to comment on whether it was a sensitive handling of their beliefs or not. The setting on the island is well described in the book, though I might have liked to have had a map somewhere, in the jacket perhaps, just to let me know where things on the island were in relation to one another as I kept forgetting.

The characters were also interesting. Our main character Avery was just the right balance of someone likeable but with a believable amount of teenage angst (she’s sixteen after all) her mother was written well, you could understand where she was coming from but didn’t necessarily agree with her, which served the purposes of the book well. I thought the romantic interest Tane (Tah-nay?) was also of interest, though perhaps we could have had a bit more about him, and a tad more character development as the book went on.

The story itself was broadly speaking nothing new. The combination of setting, characters and story may be new but I think the elements could be pulled from any number of novels. I was pretty sure I knew how the book was going to end after about 200 pages, which didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book I just like an unexpected element to a book which I don’t think I got from this.

If you like a middle-level fantasy novel with a bit of romance in an interesting and fairly unique setting, and you’re not looking for anything particularly challenging you might enjoy The Witch of Salt and Storm. I know there are two companions to this book and if they cross my path in another dusty corner of the library I’ll probably give them a go, but I won’t be spending my hard earned cash on purchasing them for myself.

My rating: 3 stars (3.5 if I’m being generous)

Have you read this book or anything similar? Can you think of any other books set in whaling towns (I’m interested now)? Let me know in the comments, I love talking to you guys.


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