Publication Date June 13, 2017 by Touchstone 

In the coastal town of Alden, Maine, Hope and Jack Kelly have settled down to a life of wedded bliss. They have a beautiful family, a growing lobster business, and the Salt House—the dilapidated oceanfront cottage they’re renovating into their dream home. But tragedy strikes when their young daughter doesn’t wake up from her afternoon nap, taking her last breath without making a sound.

A year later, each member of the Kelly family navigates the world on their own private island of grief. Hope spends hours staring at her daughter’s ashes, unable to let go. Jack works to the point of exhaustion in an attempt to avoid his crumbling marriage. Their daughters, Jess and Kat, struggle to come to terms with the loss of their younger sister while watching their parents fall apart.
When Jack’s old rival, Ryland Finn, threatens his fishing territory, he ignites emotions that propel the Kelly family toward circumstances that will either tear them apart—or be the path to their family’s future.


I was completely taken in by this cover and title, it was just perfect for my summer tbr.  When I read the description I was even more intrigued. While I’m a die hard mystery lover, some of my all time favorite books have been drama filled, character driven novels, so I was excited to give this one a go. It’s really no spoiler in the blurb that the family is dealing with the aftermath of the grief involved with losing one of their children…you find that out basically on page 1 and the novel begins a year after her death. I think it’s pretty accurate to say this is an in-depth look at grief and how it effects each member of a family.

I want to focus first on what worked for me. First and foremost, the setting was fantastic! The author did a wonderful job of bringing this small coastal town to life. I could picture the boats, marina, and most importantly The Salt House…the view sounded phenomenal. Speaking of The Salt House, this was the family’s dream house and renovations were almost complete when their daughter died. Hope and Jack had poured their love and time into getting the house ready for their family to move into when tragedy struck with Maddie’s death. Now, it literally stands at a crossroads along with each member of the family. Will they be able to move past their grief and continue on with their dreams of living in The Salt House or will Hope and Jack self-destruct bringing their daughters down with them? This central premise is what intrigued me initially and kept me reading after the fifty percent mark where I feel the plot started to meander and the pace somewhat lulled for me.

In terms of the narrative structure, the novel alternates between each family member’s perspective so we get an up close look at what Jack, Hope, Jess and Kat are all thinking and feeling. On one hand, this worked for me because surprisingly (to me) the character I most connected with was sixteen year old Jess. Initially, I thought it would be Hope but I really thought Jess’s voice came across better to me. I may be in the minority when I say this but I couldn’t connect at all with Jack. I understood him channeling his grief in a different way than Hope but there were so many parts that I just felt fed up with him. He often completely seemed to be lacking common sense and his withdrawal from the family somehow made me feel unsympathetic to him. Finally, the drama with Ryland Finn left me feeling underwhelmed; whereas when I started, I expected the second half to be drama FILLED. Not the case for me. I do want to say I think the author’s writing is top of the line and I’ll gladly read whatever she publishes next, this one just missed the mark overall for me. If you enjoy alternating perspectives without the flashback factor, an amazing setting, and can hang in there with characters feeling, at times, heavy grief I think you should definitely give this a try.

Many thanks to Touchstone Books via Netgalley for my copy. I’m happy to provide an honest review 




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19 thoughts on “REVIEW: THE SALT HOUSE By Lisa Duffy

    1. I don’t like flashbacks either but I can handle alternating perspectives if done well which this author does it well. This would be a great book club pick, lots to discuss as far as characters go!


  1. The cover and setting drew me to this one, as well, but I think I’ll share your frustrations by the sound of things. Which is disappointing but saves me a little money.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We can’t all like the same things as much as each other or even at all. But yes, sometimes when you read a book makes a difference to how much you enjoy it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m still curious about it because of the setting and the family dynamics but it’s definitely not a priority. I hate feeling underwhelmed and especially when it’s a book that you’ve been highly anticipating!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your honest review is so helpful. This is a book I’ve looked at a few times, but always been unsure. Your review has given me a little more to go on, so thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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