Avery Roe is the last of the Roe witches, a female line on Prince Island that has kept the whalers and the island safe for generations. Avery wants to take her place as the next witch, but her mother (who has refused to accept her own responsibility as a Roe witch) has other ideas… Avery is taken from her grandmother, and away from magic. But when Avery predicts her own death via her dream reading ability, she knows that she must become the next Roe witch no matter the cost. No one can kill a Roe witch, and becoming one might be Avery’s only chance at surviving.
The Witch of Salt and Storm is Kendall Kulper’s debut novel, and while it took me a few chapters to feel really engaged with the story, once I was, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Avery is a strong female protagonist who takes matters into her own hands, despite the odds being against her. While the premise and plot of the novel is certainly interesting, it is Avery’s relationship with her mother, which is tumultuous at best, which stands out. Her mother wants nothing to do with magic (but will hypocritically use it to keep Avery with her nonetheless), and wants to see Avery married off and wealthy, and away from Prince Island. Avery on the other hand isn’t interested in pretty gowns, and wants nothing more than to return to her grandmother. It is a case of a serious lack of communication between both mother and daughter, and while the mother is portrayed as something of a wicked-stepmother-like figure from a fairy tale, she is complex enough for readers to be intrigued about her intentions, which while misplaced, are not necessarily as selfish as they seem.
There is a strong romantic element to the novel, as Avery strikes up a friendship (and something more) with Tane, a harpooner from the Pacific Islands. Tane has an interesting backstory (in fact most characters in the novel are rich in this area), but my one and only complaint about this novel is that Tane didn’t feel engaging enough to me. He was a little too good… it made him feel a little flat. I kept hoping from something of a twist in him, some flaw to make him more interesting. While it is shown that he is driven by revenge, he doesn’t act angry at the world, or at anything really, so it didn’t really pull off well.
Other than that though, The Witch of Salt and Storm is a brilliant young adult novel that makes you want to moodily sit on a cliff and watch the waves break below. If you love reading about witches, and like a historical feel, then The Witch of Salt and Storm is well worth picking up.