Review: Pearls of Salt and Sacrifice

Pearls of Salt and Sacrifice by Everly Haywood is the second book from the Sacrificed Hearts series, which contains six books by different authors about maidens falling in love after being sacrificed to monsters. This book follows a different formula from others I've read so far in that the monster sacrifice happens very late in the book and is not the same character as the love interest featured on the beautiful cover art. In fact, this book has three love interests, which is even more than a typical love triangle and makes it unnecessarily convoluted. I had a hard time keeping track of all the characters because the princess was introduced to so many suitors in such a short period. This book also contains a healthy helping of pirate lore, which has never been my cup of tea, as well as krakens, elves, and siren songs all packed into a fairly short novel.

Reva is a fiercely independent princess of a struggling kingdom. She is left with no choice but to make a reluctant marriage alliance with Felix, a prince whom she considers a coward after he abandons his companions during an attack on their ship. After multiple rescues at sea that blur the lines between saving and kidnapping, Reva is also swept into the arms of Rency, a swashbuckling pirate, and Prince Jareth, a sea elf who wishes to rescue his kingdom. Reva's rebellious nature makes it difficult to trust any of the three men who crash-land in her life, and it doesn't help matters that someone is clearly trying to kill her. Too independent to find solace in someone else's arms, she encounters a cute baby kraken that eases her worries and soon learns that it belongs to Prince Jareth. Her feelings toward Jareth become complicated after he uses the siren song to save her from drowning, and she is torn between her heart and her duty to her kingdom which pushes her toward Felix.

I had trouble getting into this book because it goes in so many different directions at the same time. It was hard to root for the main couple for several different reasons. For one, Felix and Rency were featured just as prominently in the story as Jareth and eventually proved that they had no ill intent toward Reva despite taking turns with some questionable actions toward her. Also, Reva does not start developing feelings toward Jareth until after he rescues her from drowning with a siren kiss. Since sirens are known for making people fall in love with them, she, along with the reader, spends most of the book wondering whether or not her feelings are genuine. Reva herself matches the stereotype of a modern princess who doesn't need a man so well that it almost feels wrong to tie her down to anyone, even an attractive sea elf with a whimsical underwater kingdom.

Though this book does not follow the same formula as the other Sacrificed Hearts books in which the monster turns out to be friendly, it does take place in an expansive fantasy world with lots of lore that has yet to be explored, possibly in future Everly Haywood books outside of the series. Jareth's kingdom in particular is very interesting in that it was powered by a sort of sea goddess who is dying and needs to be revived to save the kingdom. The monster that Reva fights at the end is an evil kraken, and there are also cute friendly ones that expand upon the world's nautical lore. Since there was siren magic, I was hoping for a mention of mermaids, but the sea elves are a self-contained race that combines siren and elven lore to create something uniquely original. In certain ways, all three of Reva's suitors could be interpreted as reformed monsters due to their unconventional rescue methods.

While Pearls of Salt and Sacrifice throws a lot of fantastical elements and potential love interests at the wall, it doesn't quite stick the landing. The fast pace and Reva's strong personality make it a unique read, but it can be hard to connect with the romance or root for Jareth due to the rumors surrounding the siren kiss in this book and actual mythology. However, the worldbuilding with its sea elves, baby krakens, and a dying sea goddess leaves plenty of room for exploration. If you enjoyed the unique elements and vast world introduced here, then you'll definitely want to stay tuned for future reviews of other books in the Sacrificed Hearts series, which has been released in full as of this weekend!


Sugar said…
Possibly the author is planning to make a series in this world in which the pirate and the prince each find their own love stories.
The dying goddess reminds me of Moana.
Lisa Dawn said…
Yes, there was a teaser at the end about future books featuring the prince and the pirate. I just didn't think they needed to be featured so prominently in this book. A lot of authors write spinoff books about side characters from their other stories that don't get as much focus in those books.

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