Kendall Kulper comes to the blog with her debut offering, the first book in the YA Historic Fantasy series, Salt & Storm, narrated by Lauren Fortgang
Salt & Storm
Set in a rather nebulous timeframe (we know from frequent references that it is post-Civil War) in a fictional island off the coast of New England, the initial reference to this story, for me, came from Moby Dick. Whaling is the predominant industry, and the Roe witches, a family of long standing on the island are “Sea Witches”, and renown dream interpreters. All fairly straight-forward elements, in which Kulper has clearly done her research on whaling and the bits of dream interpretation and magic that she brings forward. But this is a story of Avery Roe, the current heir to the Roe witches skill, except she isn’t. Abandoned by her mother and raised by her grandmother, Avery has yet to learn her magic, although her dreams are present and very real. But, with the return of her mother and the rather childish mother-daughter conflict about Avery learning to wield her gifts is near never-ending and on an endless loop of one step forward, more conflict, two back, more conflict. Wearing and overly complicated – when you mix in the overuse of flowery prose and description, although some is quite beautiful, they spin off into tangents that never quite prove their worth to the plot.
Avery is, in small ways, stuck in neutral until she makes a friend in Tane – and the two are soon embroiled in one another’s story – occasionally close but most often at a distance, with Tane’s promise to release her from her mother’s influence and allow her access to her magic. Yet, Avery’s dream that she will be murdered is now playing on her every waking moment, and finding a way to outwit the prophecy, as her dreams have never been wrong, seems to be the primary purpose of this phase of the series. Lacking in character development that would have been far more appreciated than the endless, if lovely, descriptions would have gone far to helping the story feel tethered to any one of the multiple elements (history, magic, and fantasy) the author was touching upon, as would a better build of both her relationship with her mother (the endless arguments were wearing) and the one with Tane, that left this ‘relationship’ feeling very insta-love without actual purpose. Sure, the last quarter of the book did manage to move into a more active plot for the characters, and there are some twists, but the overall effect was ponderously difficult to find the few gems and lovely moments amid the over-wordy prose and attempts at connecting moments that simply failed to work.
Narration for this story is provided by Lauren Fortgang and she provided some variation in tone, delivery and presentation that attempted to provide clarity for moments that would be important. Unfortunately, with so many elements added and descriptions leading to nothing that will be of import later in the story, these were often as confusing for the presenter as the listener. Sad, for the premise in this book is amazing and it’s clear that Kulper both did her research and cares for the idea, the lack of cohesiveness made this a story that missed the mark on promise, while the author’s ability to describe and turn a phrase are eminently clear. It was a lack of editing for a clear chain of events that let this story down, and perhaps time to clearly define important elements, flush out characters more fully and remove the oft-repeated phrases, ands, and arguments and this book would have come closer to its promise. A debut that had many good elements, but sadly was overwhelmed by slow pacing and underdeveloped characters.
Stars: Overall 3 Narration: 3 Story: 2.5
Title: Salt & Storm
Author: Kendall Kulper
Series: Salt & Storm #1
Genre: Family Saga, Fantasy / Magical Realism, Historic Elements, Historic Fantasy, Magic, Mystery Elements, Romantic Elements, Young Adult
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Published by: Hachette Audio, Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published on: 23 September, 2014
Source: Hachette Audio
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 19 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ Kobo ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible
You don't know what you must give up to become a witch.
Avery Roe wants only to claim her birthright as the witch of Prince Island and to make the charms that have kept the island's sailors safe at sea for generations, but instead she is held prisoner by her mother in a magic-free life of proper manners and respectability.
Avery thinks escape is just a matter of time, but when she has a harrowing nightmare, she can see what it means: She will be killed. She will be murdered. And she's never been wrong before.
Desperate to change her future, Avery finds a surprising ally in Tane—a tattooed harpoon boy with magic of his own, who moves her in ways she never expected. But as time runs out to unlock her magic and save herself, Avery discovers that becoming a witch requires unimaginable sacrifice.
Avery walks the knife's edge between choice and destiny in Kendall Kulper's sweeping debut: the story of one girl's fight to survive the rising storm of first love and family secrets.
A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.