It’s different when a hunt’s starting. We’re not the kids who were just bickering at each other; we’re not brothers and sisters or orphans or people. We’re weapons.”
In her newest book SALT, Hannah Moskowitz throws us into a world where fighting sea monsters is sometimes easier than slaying your inner demons.
While seventeen year old Indi has never loved sailing throughout the Mediterranean Sea to hunt monsters with his family, it’s the only life he’s ever known. That hasn’t stopped him from dreaming of a normal life on land. Until his parents vanish, that it. When they don’t return from a journey fighting a sea monster of legendary and epic proportions, Indi fears his chance to escape is getting farther and farther away.
The one thing he holds on to is in his parents journal. Obscure directions to the treasure his parents promised they would give them. He clings to hope that it’s valuable enough to provide him and his siblings the chance at a normal life. But first, he has to convince his driven older sister, Beleza, to stop her quest for revenge.
There is something incredibly magical about this book. SALT is about sea monsters and monster hunters, living a nomadic life full of code words and hybrid languages. Part of the magic Moskowitz weaves is that this life isn’t set in the pages of the past. Instead, she has seamlessly woven it into a very modern world. The result is captivating.
Make no mistake, this isn’t simply a fantasy novel with high stakes action and heart pounding adventure, though you’ll find plenty of both. At the heart of SALT, this is a story about love and family. It’s a very sweet coming of age tale exploring how complicated family love can be and how loyalty can tear you between living the life you want and the life expected of you. No one has told Indi he can’t leave the ship, but the way he loves his siblings is strong and pure, and sometimes that can hold you down more firmly than chains or threats.
Even though this book comes in at just 258 pages, this is a stellar case of quality over quantity. Within this short book, the relationships and personalities of Indi and his three siblings shine through as unique, vivid and incredibly realistic. They fight, and snap at each other, and generally drive each other up the wall. But within all of those scenes, the underlying thread of love is always visible. Their interactions very much reminded me of my own siblings, albeit with less weapons and no sea monsters.
SALT has the perfect combination of fantasy, adventure, action and emotion. Every scene involving a sea monster had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath. I yearned to see more of the cities they were in and fell completely in love with each character as their antics carved their personalities into reality. I adored Zulu and Oscar, felt for Indi and Beleza, and really want to meet Hura, although I will make sure to never turn my back on that wily pirate. This is a book I can see myself falling into again and again.
Fans of Moskowitz will find her themes of love and her ability to blend dark fantasy with reality once again in the pages of SALT. New readers, especially those who love the lyrical writing of Laini Taylor or the hilarious and very morally grey antics of Captain Jack Sparrow, will find a lot to swoon for. It will delight fantasy lovers, and satisfy all your emotional yearning at the same time. In all, don’t let the size of this book fool you. It’s a small novel that packs a killer punch.
Thank you Teenreads and Chronicle Books for sending me a review copy!