By: Larissa | July 9, 2014 | (31) Comments

Review: Salt & Storm by Kendall KulperSalt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Genres: Magic, Romance, YA
Pages: 416
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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 whale men 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, stole Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape from her mother before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roes’ power.

When Avery awakens from a dream foretelling her own murder, she realizes time is running short—for her and for the people of her island, who, without the Roes, will lose their ships and the only life they know.

With the help of Tane, a tattooed harpoon boy from the Pacific Islands, Avery plots her escape from her mother and unravels the mysteries of her mother’s and grandmother’s pasts. 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—one she might not be able to make.

I’m really not sure what to rate this one, so take my review with a grain of salt (pun totally intended).  Sometimes I found myself enjoying this read and other times I found myself bogged down by the fact nothing was really happening.

I found the that nothing was happening due to the fact that for vast majority of the book  as we found our main character just trying to find out how to achieve her powers. We didn’t see her being awesome with her powers, rather we saw the journey Avery went on to get her powers. Quite frankly though, this journey seemed quite repetitive at  parts with the mention of the whaling and how Avery would be this close to finding out something important to only have her hopes dashed. I wish we could have seen more magic and that there was more plot development spread out throughout the book. It seemed to happen only in the last 1/4 of the book which made it seem like Salt & Storm  was overly drawn out. The writing also contributed to this fact. Though it was quite poetic and very atmospheric, it sometimes felt as though it was too excessive and could have been just as impactful with fewer words. I found that the writing did actually bog down the story in certain points.

However there were times where the writing in all of its glory stood out to me and shined.

The lighthouse looked different in the daytime, its haunted, mysterious aura fading into the forlorn quality of an abandoned wreck, with paint peeling and curling from its skin like the scale of the lizard.

Shown through the quote above, you can clearly see that Kendall’s writing was very descriptive. I found that this worked the best in the development of the atmosphere and the setting. The story did feel like it was set in the past and there was definitely hintings of the supernatural and superstition. I would have personally liked these hints built on but I didn’t find that to be the case. Salt & Storm   was also set on Prince Island, a historical town known for its whaling. I felt as if the writing transferred me to this small island and its way of living. I personally find whaling horrible (and I still think this. Some of the descriptions of in this one were truly horrifying) but in the past it was a way of life, and I feel like Kendall captured it accurately with her intense and impactful descriptions.

Sometimes, when I am very angry at my mother, I like to imagine her big and bloodless and all alone at the bottom of the ocean alike a giant squid. I imagine her in the darkness, in the cold, all her sticky tentacles wrapped tightly around her. That is how I imagine my mother, a monster deep in the ocean, reaching out with her tentacles to catch stray fish and sailors and pull them apart like a bloated, underwater spider.

So it’s safe to say that Avery and her mother aren’t best friends. I actually really enjoyed the relationship between Avery and her mother and how it was present in the story. It was obviously negative to begin with, and I found myself detesting Avery’s mother in the beginning. However over the course of the novel you begin to develop an understanding of the mother and even have moments of sympathy for her. I feel like there was insurmountable obstacles between Avery and her mother, however Kulper dealt with them in a way that felt realistic and I enjoyed witnessing the transformation of Avery mother’s character. The relationship was complex and I enjoyed that the author made the choice to not alter it completely by the end of the book, but allow us to gain an understanding of the mother and her once rash actions.

I also enjoyed Tane, the love interest in Salt & Storm. I was initially quite wary of him due to the initial description of Tane. He was described by his tattoos and his broody attitude. Of course I thought we’d have another case of the “YA bad boy” on our hands. I’m glad to report that wasn’t the case here. There was certainly a reason for Tane’s initially odd behavior and I actually found myself connecting and sympathizing with him quite easily. He had been through so much and Tane’s story definitely pulled at my heartstrings. I enjoyed how Tane wasn’t just the bad boy stereotype and was actually fully developed as an individual with emotions that were very palpable.  His relationship with Avery wasn’t insta love, though I would have appreciated a little more development as things did move a bit quicker than I would have liked. Nontheless, by the end of Salt & Storm  I found myself invested in the relationship and the ending of the story did leave me feeling quite emotional.

Though I did find myself enjoying other characters in the story I actually found Avery, the main character, the hardest to get into. I did understand her plight and sympathized, I didn’t find myself particularly invested nor connected deeply in her characterization.  I found myself more intrigued by Tane actually than Avery and her issues. For the majority of the story I felt detached and I think this was due to lack of character development of Avery till the end. Though her relationships develop I found that Avery’s own character was a underdeveloped. She frankly was flat and a bit boring.

Overall I found Salt & Storm  to have a well described setting, developed relationships and a good love interest. However I found there to be little to none plot advancement, prior to the ending, and the main character to be lackluster. I also found that the most interesting factor of the plot (magic) was could have been a lot more involved. The writing also left me feeling conflicted: though it was descriptive and beautiful at some points, I also found it to be drawn out and excessive.

~Thank you Little Brown for the review copy~

2.5 Stars
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Larissa was born and still is living in the land of ice, snow and maple syrup. She's 18 years old and really has no idea what to do with her life lately. Larissa's plans are constantly changing--though there’s one thing has remained constant throughout her seventeen years, and that’s reading. It takes her to another world and puts her into impossible situations and that’s why she loves it so much.

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31 Responses to Review: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

  1. Emily says:

    The plot sounds intriguing! 😀 But it’s a pity to see that in the end the writing was a little lackluster 🙁 I think it would be a bit more interesting too if the magic aspect was drawn out in a better way, or maybe to add more substance to it, yeah? 🙂 I really adore an elegant writing style, but there’s definitely a point where it becomes a bit overboard >< But it's sad to see that Avery hated her mom! 🙁 But I guess that plays with an interesting relationship dynamic! 🙂
    Sad that you didn't enjoy this one as much as you hoped to, Larissa! 🙁 But lovely review all the same!! <3
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    • Larissa says:

      The plot was definitely what caught my eye about this book, I love reading about witches and magic. Yeah I feel like the plot was just not really there and would have preferred if the magic was already present instead of going on that long and frankly unenjoyable journey to get it. The writing was honestly a bit too flowery for me, I can love beautiful writing (like Tigerlily!) but sometimes it’s just too much. I also think that Avery and her mother’s relationship at the end of the story has grown leap and bounds.

      Thank you Emily <33

  2. Repetitive scenes/phrases/words make me iffy, haha! Not sure how I’ll deal with that fiasco. I’m really glad that the relationship between mother/daughter here is prominent AND imperfect. A lot of families are like that, so that’s a good thing. And whoa, I WANT TO MEET TANE! <3 Emotional romances are the best. ;D I totally get what you mean by sympathizing but not FEELING, so I'm sorry you couldn't connect to the main character.

    I'll be lowering my standards down a notch, but I'm still pretty excited for this title! Awesome review, Larissa!
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah I’m on board with you on that one. I don’t think you’d enjoy the writing, knowing your tastes haha. Yeah the relationship between mother/daughter was one of my favorite things of Salt & Storm, especially how it was constantly growing/changing/developing. Lol Tane was great, he actually had a (sad) backstory which was interesting because I’ve noticed that sometimes love interests can be so flat.

      I hope you enjoy this one more than me! c: And thank you Aimee <33

  3. I understand your qualms… I just read a book that felt way too drawn out as well. I’ll probably still read Salt & Storm, however, if not only for its nautical setting and luscious writing.

    • Larissa says:

      Yeah it just honestly makes me cheated. Like going into this one I excepted magic and witches, instead I got a drawn out plot which was so slow that I felt as if nothing was happening. The nautical setting though was a definite plus! [:

  4. It seems that the beautiful writing didn’t sway you. It can be a problem, like you are compelled to like a book because of the writing and not the story itself. It can be tedious to read something that is quite repetitive, like you’d feel so many deja-vus. I’m glad that the way the relationship of Avery and her mother were dealt with realistically. And that Tane isn’t your typical YA bad boy. Having said that, I am not sure that this book is for me. I haven’t quite found my bearing back from my slump yet. Fantastic review, Larissa!
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  5. Larissa says:

    Yeah it honestly didn’t. While I appreciated it (especially regarding the setting) I found that it really did bog down the story. You’re definitely correct regarding how tedious it can be to read something repetitive, I did feel like things were repeating themselves often in Salt & Storm. The relationship of Avery and her Mother and Tane were definite highlights of the story for me c:

    Thank you Dre! (:

  6. Yet another YA fantasy book with good potential gone to waste. I don’t know, but 2014 doesn’t seem to be the year of books for a lot of us! I think the worst part is that nothing much was happening in the story, even though there was kind of a good reason for it. It’s just that if a book is boring, chances are I’ll give up on it pretty quick.

    The writing does sound beautiful, though! I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the writing style doesn’t really affect how much I like a book. It can be simple or beautiful, but in the end, if the story and characters aren’t good, I most likely won’t like the book much. Otherwise, beautiful writing is always a plus.

    Authors who’re able to make you sympathize with an unlikable characters are seriously talented, man. I don’t know, it just takes a certain kind of skill to make us understand, and few achieve it. I’m glad that you were ultimately able to understand Avery’s mother more and yay for complex relationships!

    Eugh, I saw “bad boy” and immediately knew that I won’t like the romance. I know not all bad boys are annoying to read about, but the few horrible NA books I’ve read have scarred me for life. So yeah, I’m glad I didn’t request this one on NG because even though it had an interesting premise, it doesn’t sound like it lived up to your expectations overall. Still, brilliant review as always, Larissa!
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    • Larissa says:

      Yup, I really did find myself disappointed by this one and the wasted potential. Though some aspects were done great, others were mediocre or non existent. Yeah writing does have an impact on me though. I think it actually does have a effect on other aspects of the story. For example the bogged down and flowery writing probably contributed to the fact I felt as if nothing was going on.

      Haha I actually enjoyed the romance though! I also find bad boys to be quite stereotypical and annoying, though I found Tane not to be this way. The bad boy thing was just a flimsy front for some seriously sad backstory and I enjoyed how his character was actually developed. Lately I’ve been finding cardboard cutouts of love interests and that annoys me.

      Thank you for the sweet comment as always Megan <33 :]

  7. Zoe N. says:

    Aww…shucks! 🙁 This was a really anticipated read of mine, so I’m sorry to hear that it was an – overall – disappointing read for you. It’s a shame that the magic / world-building wasn’t all that developed, and that the writing was a little excessive and drawn out. I think I’ll still give this a try because I absolutely love the premise, but I suppose I’ll have to lower my expectations a tad. Thanks for sharing Larissa, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah I was quite looking forward to it too. I did find the magic and world building lacking sadly, I just saw a lot of wasted potential there. That excessive writing really did make it feel like there was nothing going on in terms of plot. I really hope that you do enjoy this one more than me.

      Thank you Zoe! (:

  8. Rachel says:

    I just got a copy of this at the ALA and I’m not sure this is going to work for me. Just reading those quotes makes me think it won’t. Writing that’s too descriptive to the point of being distracting is not a plus for me. I love beautiful prose such as Maggie Stiefvater’s but there’s a fine line between just right and atmospheric and too much. Great review, Larissa. 🙂
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    • Larissa says:

      Wish I could have gone to ALA! I actually was in Vegas like a month before lol. Yeah this writing definitely fell under the too descriptive category. Maggie’s writing is a example of beautiful prose working and not distracting from the plot. Thank you Rachel! (:

  9. Great honest review Larissa, I was really interested in this premise as well but what a shame that there is limited plot development. I can see myself getting bored and antsy while reading the story.
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    • Larissa says:

      Thank you c: I find honesty the most important thing in reviews. Yeah, I just feel like there was a whole lot of plot potential wasted in Salt & Storm. Sometimes I did feel bored/antsy, just wanting to reach the end of the story

  10. Melanie says:

    Y’know, I actually really love parent-child relationships that begin on a negative note but throughout the novel, you get to see them bond and grow closer again–it’s real sweet 😀 I like how you say that Tane isn’t the typical bad boy like you forethought. I do like the idea of this novel–it’s a shame that the MC let it down.

    Fab review, Larissa! <33

    • Larissa says:

      Yeah I do love complex relationships, I find them to have the most interesting development. Tane definitely surprised me, reminded me that I should keep a more open mind. Yeah the MC and plot were definitely lacking.

      Thanks Mel! <33

  11. Rashika says:

    I only skimmed through your review since this is definitely an anticipated read and I am going to read it soonish..

    I am so so sad to see you didn’t love this more, Larissa 🙁

    and I am really worried about the fact that she won’t be doing awesome stuff with her powers! That’s my favorite bit about witch books!

    I am just going to crawl into a hole now. Someday I’ll find a witch book to fall in love with (there aren’t as many out there as one might think).

    But maybe I’ll like this better? Maybe…

    • Larissa says:

      I can’t wait to see what you think of this one! I hope that you enjoy it more than me.

      Yeah, I really want a brilliant witch book. And sadly I haven’t really found any. I did love the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins, but it was more fluff and less awesome badass magic.

  12. Siiri says:

    Oh, no! I’m sorry it fell so flat for you. I totally understand since you wanted more magic from a witch book. Sorry it wasn’t all that you hoped it would be. Yay for great atmosphere building! I love complex characters and seems like Avery’s mom is definitely a complex one. Yeah? I’m glad that Tane isn’t a typical bad boy 🙂 I’m sorry you weren’t wowed, but at least you enjoyed some of the aspects in this novel. Great, honest review, hon!
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  13. Larissa says:

    Yeah I really did want to see some of the aspects that make witch books interesting and unique to me. I had high hopes in terms of plot and sadly they were dashed. Yeah, Avery’s mother was definitely multidimensional and had maaaaany layers.

    Thank you Siiri <33

  14. Stephanie B says:

    Very helpful review! I have an ARC of this myself. I’m glad to know what to kind of expect. I’ve been burned by these witch books because they weren’t what I expected in the past so hopefully I can enjoy this more now when I get to reading it.
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  15. Michelle says:

    Hmm… I don’t think I’ll pick this one up, probably because it deals with witches and those are one of my least favourite subjects in literature. One of the only good ones is Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy this one! Great review!
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  16. Oh, dear D: This definitely does NOT bode well, considering I have this for review very very soon 😐 I’m saddened there aren’t much character development. Sometimes, I appreciate it when we’re shown the story from the very beginning, where we join the MC find her power and place in the world, but if it’s dragging and bogged along the way, I’m not so sure I’d enjoy the ride very much. I would just become impatient and would start unappreciating the other aspects gradually (that happens to me, unfortunately). I hope the writing would be enough to NOT make that happen.

    But! At least the Love Interest is not the usual YA Bad Boy with a Big Heart deep inside. That is just so cliché and I actually cringe whenever I encounter one. Same shit, different day, you know? But then again there’s the MC… I have a feeling she and I will have a rocky relationship, too.
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah I really do hope that you do end up enjoying this one more than me. Yeah I thought I could get behind a self discovery/journey plotline. However, with the slow snail like pace it felt like the journey was impossible and frankly repetitive. Honestly the writing wasn’t enough to make the journey seem less dragged out, in fact I believe that it contributed.

      Ugh yeah >.< I definitely found Tate to have a little more depth to him than that.

  17. Lyn Kaye says:

    I had to dash off to write my review before I read this one (I do it to avoid subconscious plagiarizing) and I agree with you in many ways. I did like the writing, but the main character felt like punishment. The repetition did kill it for me during certain parts. I get it, you’re trying to be the witch. We said it 203 times int he last 10 chapters.
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    • Larissa says:

      Ooooo I can’t wait to read your review! Yeah the main character and I didn’t connect on a deep level at all. I found herself to be quite naive at times honestly. Ugh yeah, the repetition was awful. It was like listening to a broken record.

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