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// Genre & Themes: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Lesbian MC, Murder Mystery
// Trigger Warnings (from BookTriggerWarnings.com): Animal death, sexual assault, rape, underage drinking, underage drug use, animal death, drugging of people without their knowledge
// Publisher: HarperTeen
// Editor: Jocelyn Davies
// Synopsis: Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has been passed down through every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.
No one on the island of By-the-Sea would ever call the Fernwehs what they really are, but if you need the odd bit of help—say, a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight—they are the ones to ask.
No one questions the weather, as moody and erratic as a summer storm. No one questions the (allegedly) three-hundred-year-old bird who comes to roost on the island every year.
When tragedy strikes, what made the Fernweh women special suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.
Summer of Salt has a slightly misleading cover. It seems like a romance, but in truth it’s more of a murder mystery and sister story with a romantic subplot. It’s about Georgina, a girl on small island who is from a family of witches à la Practical Magic.
The beginning was extremely infuriating, the middle was frustrating, and the end was okay. So I suppose I’ll talk about it in that order.
I have to get this out of the way first: I can’t stand Georgina’s sister Mary. She’s rude, obnoxious, a touch entitled, pushy, constantly belittles Georgina, and all of her dialogue just left me feeling annoyed. Georgina herself calls her a raging evil bitch.
At one point someone tells Georgina that home can be a person, not just a place. And Georgina says “ah! That’s how I feel about Mary!”
Uhm… excuse me?
At this point, Mary has spent fifty pages belittle Georgina, telling her that she’s not as pretty as she (Mary) is, that she deserves dates more than Georgina, pushes Georgina into a romantic relationship she’s not sure she wants, among other things. She never shows any support or kindness. That’s home to you??
I think the reason that it grates on my nerves so much is that I’ve been Georgina—stuck living with a sister who constantly tears you down, and I sure as hell didn’t leave that situation going “but we’re sisters and I love her!!”. It took a lot of time and work and growth on her part for me to actually start getting along with her. I don’t put up with the “but sisterly bond!!” bullshit. And admittedly, I think that’s why Mary really got to me, and why it bothered me when Georgina brushed these situations off.
The beginning also has a lot of romantic pushing. And what I mean is the trope of I saw you look at that person you must like them / you like her because I saw you look at her once and then you had a two minute conversation, etc. Not sure if there’s a better way to summarize this trope, but it’s everywhere.
It bothers me, though I don’t have the words to explain exactly why. Maybe because it feels invasive? Maybe because I hate when people irl force you to like someone because they’ve made assumptions? I’m not sure.
This book is based around a murder mystery. Except that the answer is extremely obvious. The murder happens 1\3rd into the book and I knew immediately who it was, which means I had 2\3rds of the book left and the tension was gone. I don’t necessarily mind this, as long as there’s something else to keep me hooked. But there wasn’t.
The characters aren’t doing anything except trying to solve the murder. It made made the pacing lag because I knew the answer, and I was just watching them struggle to figure it out.
There were even times when the characters are GIVEN THE DAMN ANSWER and then a page later are like “but..what if it’s this random person?” and it was hard for me to continue to care. I’ll add more in a spoiler tag so I can get more specific.
S P O I L E R S
At one point they consult a Ouija board and talk to the dead victim. Since this is a town where magic exists, it’s made clear that both characters know 100% that they’re actually speaking to the dead. They ask, “who killed you?” and it says “evil man.” and they’re both like ah of course.
But they a PAGE LATER the main character is convinced that her sister did it. But. . .the board said MAN. So why is the main character so convinced it was a woman if it was already established that it was a man?? It was obvious that the board is saying that she knows who killed them but didn’t kill them.
On top of that, who the murderer was was obvious, which made this struggle particularly frustrating as the reader.
It slowed down the plot so much. I had 2\3rds of the book left and had figured out the twist and was just waiting and waiting for the characters to get somewhere.
The conclusion wasn’t horrible. It wrapped up nicely and I liked Georgina and Prue’s romantic subplot. I also enjoyed the writing style throughout the book, which helped keep me engaged.
Georgina didn’t have much of a character arc, but I wouldn’t have minded that if the rest of it had been solid. But it was all a bit shaky for me.
I mostly read this book because it was marked on “asexual books” lists. In reality? There’s one minor side character who is aroace. Which is slightly frustrating, because this is the third book I’ve read this month on an “asexual books” list that had a super minor character who was ace.
Overall, I gave Summer of Salt three stars. I did like the writing style and discussing SA is clearly very important to the author. I also thought the idea was good and I liked Georgina as a character.
I try to save my 2-star reviews for books I actually hate on some level, and I was just mildly annoyed through most of this so I don’t think this qualifies.
What did you think of Summer of Salt?