The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

(8.8/10)

As soon as I saw this cracking title on NetGalley, I knew I had to read it and the strange cover image made me quite determined. As you might imagine, there is much to do with the sea – which I love. For me, the evocation of the whaling industry and how a witch might fit in with that was beautifully done – unflinching, dramatic and credible.

The strong female characters are a joy – and without giving spoilers, your views on them will shift throughout the book. The key relationships are clearly drawn and engaging. I loved the immersive sense of time and place. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about Oceanic culture to say if Kendall Kulper’s portrayal of the tattooed male witch Tane was respectful, but going by her interesting endnotes, I would expect it to be so.

Despite the historical setting, it is not a difficult read. Any reasonably confident reader from teen upwards would find it fairly straightforward. I didn’t find it as intense as say Margo Lanagan’s ‘Brides of Rollrock Island’/’Seahearts’. There is of course, a romance - but not so explicit a younger teen would go ‘yuck’. There are tragic moments in it too, but it does have a strong ending. Someone who loved Celia Rees’s ‘Witch Child’, for example, would most likely enjoy this.

Ideal for readers wanting a coming-of-age story in a deeply involving setting with plenty of drama and emotion.

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