In the fifth grade, my class took a field trip to Mystic Seaport. I grew up in New England, so there was a lot of crossover between out History and English lessons in elementary and middle school, focusing on Colonial America. I haven’t been back to Mystic since, but in my memory it was a sunny day with a crisp fall breeze. I was wearing my favorite sweater. There was a slight low-tide smell as we were shown around the ships, but not enough to be really gross, just to remind you where you were. In the gift shop I bought two small glass oil lamps, one blue and one green. They’re still in my childhood bedroom.
I categorize it as one of my idyllic New England memories.
So Kendall Kulper’s Salt & Storm hit a resonant chord with me, with its small seaside town, its shipping industry, its homegrown legends and lore. Here’s the premise:
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 whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she’s to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.
Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane–a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.
So the fiction math for Salt & Storm works out as:
The Crucible + Practical Magic + Moby Dick
Which is a lot of New England-ness.
What Intrigued Me: One of my favorite books that was assigned in school was The Witch of Blackbird Pond (KIT!). So witches and small New England towns? Feels like home to me.
What Hooked Me: Tattoo magic! I have always loved tattoos, and have started to turn into an ink fanatic, so the idea of tattooing charms and spells onto your body makes me a little giddy.
What Made Me Fall In Love: It’s a tie!
Answer 1) the lyrical prose. It’s beautiful, it’s dreamy, it’s enchanting. “Spellbinding” is a good word to describe it.
Answer 2) the Salem witch trial feel, the mob mentality. How this small town goes from quiet reverence to the Roe witches—how they’re a part of their lives, but separate and special—to fear, anger, and prejudice. I loved this dynamic, and how it caused their ultimate downfall.
Is it weird that it reminds me so much of home?
Salt & Storm is available September 23 from Amazon or your local book trader (or bookstore, I suppose). Please don’t burn any for witchcraft.