Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release: September 23, 2014
You don't know what you must give up to become a witch.Salt & Storm is a wave-tossed story, tempestuous, wild, and unpredictable as a wrathful sea at the height of a hurricane. Just as the Roe family's roots entwine with those of Prince Island, creating a rich and bonding legacy, this story also seems to reach into the very heart of the setting, channeling the energy and perils of open waters. Nothing in Kendall Kulper's debut is easy or simple, and as a result, the characters must work incredibly hard, fighting century-old traditions, to get what they want. Kulper may be a debut author, but she has already proven a talent for knotting plots into conflicts so tight that even a remotely happy ending seems impossible—and forcing characters to try and fail again and again to smooth out their story. This viciously challenging plot pulled me under, telling an entrancing tale that had me spellbound.
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.
This novel's central impossible conflict stems directly from the Roe women's magic and the price of obtaining it. In the exposition, Kulper paints the Roe family legacy as noble and prestigious, and while it never loses its aura of honor, readers slowly learn the price of such powerful magic. A position as the witch of Prince Island involves more than love and protection spells; as the summary states, it requires a sacrifice that no non-witch can understand—no exceptions. As Avery desperately tries to circumvent the unearthly rite of passage that can unlock her full magical abilities, her goals seem impossible to obtain. At no point does Kulper take the easy way out when it comes to the Roe magic rules. Each provision of the Roe witch curse must be fulfilled, and even when characters alter the way in which each part comes true, it is a hard-fought battle of pain and tears. Avery's failures against generations-old magic create a rocky plot that will have readers invested, cheering for her to finally, finally win.
Roe magic also bleeds into Avery's relationships, creating dynamics charged with the full force of her potential powers. The protagonist hates—truly hates—her mother for pushing a stifling, magic-free life upon her, an emotion that Kulper writes with stinging intensity. Avery's magic also creates complications with Tane, resulting in one of the most hopeless of impossible romances in YA fiction. Both of these relationships seem impossible to salvage, but true to form, Kulper makes her protagonist try, creating even more conflicts that seem to have no solution.
Throughout all of this, Avery is forced to undertake the most daunting, impossible task she can imagine—changing her own fate. As a prodigious dream teller whose predictions about the future always come true, despite characters' efforts to stop them, Avery firmly believes that some paths simply cannot be altered. But throughout her story, she learns destiny does not always play out the way she expects—and that she has more control over her life than she knows. Avery's growing understanding of the power of choice shapes the plot as well as her character. By the end of the novel, it seems that sometimes the impossible can be made possible with a few deliberate decisions.
Salt & Storm's twisting, exhausting, exhilarating plot combines with gorgeous prose and a well-researched historical setting to produce a masterpiece of a novel. Kulper is a brilliant writer in every way, and even if her next book is a nonfiction overview of 19th century sailing, I plan to read every word.