Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno
“On the island of By-the-Sea you could always smell two things: salt and magic.”
Summer of Salt is a charming read, with beautiful writing, magical elements, diverse characters and important topics.
In the small town of By-The-Sea the Fernweh women are known for their magic, passed down through every generation, Georgina waits impatiently for her magic to appear. Her twin sister, Mary has already shown the ability to float, but with their eighteenth birthday looming, Georgina fears her gift will never show.
No one on the island would ever call the Fernweh women what they really are, nor do they question the three-hundred-year-old bird that comes to roost on the island every year. When tragedy strikes, what made the Fernweh women special, suddenly casts them in suspicion, and the island that they know and love, might not be as safe as they assumed.
I was very excited going in to Summer of Salt, Chelsea from ChelseaDolling Reads raves about this novel and I was excited to see if I enjoyed this novel as much as she does. I am reading this as part of the Sassy Book Club, and although it was not a 5 star read, I was not disappointed.
Katrina Leno has a beautiful writing style, I was captivated by her words, and enjoyed the underlying messages that were weaved throughout Summer of Salt. Topics such as grief, rape and slut shaming were all discussed in such a unique manner but done with sensitivity and honesty. Summer of Salt was crafted perfectly, it was atmospheric, and the aesthetic of this beautiful unpredictable island full of magic and salt is somewhere I feel like I belong.
The plot was neither fast paced or action packed which are the two things that normally hook me to books. Summer of Salt was slower and sweeter, and although I did have a small issue with the blatant foreshadowing that felt shoved down my throat, it didn’t take away from what a glorious journey this novel was. Side note: another part of the plot I also didn’t understand is how one small town became so obsessed with a bird… I mean I have a cockatoo, and she’s cool unless she’s biting you or squawking… but obsessed with her I am not… My dog is a much more loving member of the family.
“In a family full of girls, you realize quickly that no girls are ordinary”
Moving on to characters, I loved all the character in Summer of Salt, they were all so unique and complex, and I loved that Katrina Leno weaved so much representation within this bunch of characters. The characters had their flaws, but were all written in a way that each individual was accepted for who they were. This story brought so much beauty to the friend and family relationships included, and it was honestly my favourite part of Summer of Salt.
However, I did find a lack of character development when it came to Georgina, unfortunately the realisation I wanted her to come to on her own was given to her, and I felt that really let me down. The lead up to this reveal was foreshadowed throughout the book, and providing the answer to her left me underwhelmed. I felt her character could have been provided with a little more development rather than the plot pulling her throughout the novel, but ultimately it wasn’t a huge negative for me and I still enjoyed this novel greatly.
Overall, Summer of Salt was a beautiful story that left me utterly enchanted by a place that doesn’t exist.
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