What to say, what to say.
I think that if the ending had been stronger, this book might have gotten to four stars for me. There were things that I really loved about it - the setting was fantastic and extremely believable. The writing was so evocative that there were times that I could almost smell the sea and feel the salt spray on my face. The connection to whaling, the historical and yet still fantastical aspects of the world, the New England seafaring island village thing was awesome.
Salt and Storm is billed as a "sweeping historical romance," which is misleading for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that this book does not have an HEA. And in order to be a romance, one of the unbreakable rules is that there must be an HEA, or at least an HFN. Kendall Kulper breaks all of the romance rules with this book. I wasn't actually reading it as a romance, but if I had been, yeah, I would have been seriously pissed off.*
I liked it, nonetheless, in spite of the issues. It is a stand-alone, as well, and the story arc completely wrapped up without any loose ends left. The writing was at times truly gorgeous, and the premise is original and engaging. Sometimes it feels like all we are getting in YA publishing is twi-fic, retreads, and over-extended trilogies. This was none of those things, and it speaks to the author's talent that this book is different, rule-breaking. It feels neither derivative nor hackneyed. It was a solid debut by an author that I hope to read again. Her story-telling - already pretty good - can only improve with practice.
*This isn't Kulper's fault. It is her publishers fault. This should not be marketed as a romance. It is fantasy.