Salt and Silver: What happens when the Hell portal vanishes

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Salt and Silver Anna KatherineSalt and Silver by Anna Katherine

Blurbs for Salt and Silver use the word “romp” often enough that I was expecting something in the vein of paranormal chick lit. I was surprised, then, by the dark places Salt and Silver goes, and Anna Katherine‘s ability to both scare the daylights out of me and break my heart.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, given that the whole story is about going to, well, Hell.

Our heroine is Allie, once a spoiled rich girl, now a waitress. In the early days after she lost her fortune, she and her friends dabbled in magic and accidentally opened a portal to Hell. Allie’s been dealing ever since with the nasty creatures the Door disgorges, with the help of Ryan, a gorgeous demon hunter.

Allie is snarky and a little flippant in the beginning, but even then it’s obvious that her psyche is not a happy fun place. There’s a sadness in her. Much of it has to do with her friends, Stan and Amanda, who are still living the hard-partying life Allie used to live. She is loyal to them, while at the same time knowing she’s watching them self-destruct and not sure if there’s any way to help them.

Then Allie’s Hell portal vanishes, and things really get messy.

Allie, Ryan, and a group of hunters decide to venture into Hell to find out what’s going on. That’s when Salt and Silver really gets good. The very first thing that happens upon their arrival? I won’t spoil it, but it’s incredibly creepy. It makes it painfully clear that anything can happen in the underworld, at any time.

Anna Katherine leads us through a series of underworlds, drawn from many cosmologies, some I recognized, some I didn’t. They’re all fascinating and some of them are horrific, and the most perilous of all are the ones that are shaped by the personal baggage Allie and her friends bring with them.

This being a fantasy website, I should mention that this is romance; it’s got it stamped on the side and everything. The relationship between Allie and Ryan is central to the story. However, there’s also plenty of fantasy in Salt and Silver. Anna Katherine’s world-building is well-thought-out and well-executed, and I found myself more interested in the Hell dimensions than in the love story. I really enjoyed this, and I recommend it to fans of romantic fantasy.

Salt and Silver — (2009) Paranormal romance. Publisher: Allie can’t seem to get it together.  Ever since her mom ran away to Rio with Rio — her tennis instructor — stealing Allie’s trust fund and her comfortable way of life, Allie has been floundering.  She works in Sally’s Diner, and lives above it. And one night in the basement, she and her friends chant a ridiculous spell — for money, for luck, for love…and open a Doorway to Hell.  Ryan thinks he’s got it all figured out.  When the Door opened he appeared out of nowhere, a Stetson-wearing demon hunter dressed in leather. He’s assigned to the Door, and hangs out at the diner, and when the Door disappears he is certain that Allie had something to do with it. But something strange is happening in Brooklyn.  Something bigger than Allie, and Ryan, and the Door in the diner basement.  And when a meeting of demon hunters gives birth to a dangerous idea, Allie and Ryan are left to wonder if the fragile feelings growing between them can survive a trip to Hell… or if they themselves will survive at all.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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