The Gremlin’s Library: Salt by Hannah Moskowitz

This book was fun! I’ve gotten into the habit of picking up books by covers and/or recs alone, because of the sense of mystery; either I’ll love something or I’ll hate it. One of the downsides of this, though, is that I don’t always know which audience is written for. Salt is a middle-grade novel that follows a group of siblings as they try to find out what happened to their parents. The entire family are sicarios – seafaring monster killers who take on the creatures of the deep – but without their parents, Indi, Beleza, Oscar and Zulu are having a lot of trouble staying afloat, both literally and metaphorically.

The premise of this book is already made of sheer awesome – monster killer sailors! – and Moskowitz’s writing cuts straight through to the emotions that fuel her characters. Indi is a great narrator, longing for a normal life while taking care of his siblings. I was also surprised that casual sex was something that the book acknowledges and doesn’t particularly dwell it. Both Indi and Beleza sleep with random people sometimes, and it’s not a big deal.

The action-filled opening is a little misleading, though – this is much more of a character piece, exploring how the four siblings process their grief and try to reorganize their life into one without their parents. Indi in particular finds it harder and harder to pretend that he wants to stay a sicario; he wants a normal life, and he and Beleza nearly come to blows a few times over it. I would have like a little more sea-monstery stuff, but the character focus was a welcome surprise – nobody expects a story about monster hunters on a ship to be introspective!

My biggest gripe is probably with the ending. I had a hard time following what exactly happened to their parents and where they ended up, although it was very sweet, and I think possibly I’m thinking about it too hard. Either way, it was a little abrupt – I would have loved to spend a little more time with the characters! Also, Hura was a little frustrating – I understand why she’s like that, but dang it there’s a point where I just want her to Be Trustworthy.

I read Salt from my local library, but it’s available for purchase at Chronicle Books, or Barnes & Noble.

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