Salt Skin is Michelle Rhode’s first novel and is published in paperback and as an e-book on Amazon. It is set in America yet draws on inspiration from the authors life in Northland, New Zealand.

Salt Skin is the story of a teen who has to confront her biggest fear – the ocean – when her family moves closer to the sea. Sunlight is your average teen, balancing schoolwork, bullies, a hot guy she has her eye on, sisters stealing her clothes, sneaking out at dark. The pull of the ocean forces her to research her past and the discovery haunts both Sunlight and the new town she resides in. Convinced that only she can break a curse that has befallen the residents  of this small coastal town, Sunlight must draw on her own strength and resist the pull of the magical water god.

Salt Skin is an incredible combination of fantasy and realism, drawing the reader into a world that blurs with reality and providing an entrancing setting. The strength of Rhode’s development in building a believable town, family and the main characters provides a platform to launch the imaginary and blurring the lines of plausible. Rhodes has also cleverly built up the suspense by inserting references early in the story so that when events are evolving, the reader already feels involved and interested, such as drowned girls and murders and then trials.

Salt Skin is not a novel I would usually pick up but I bought it after being on the same writing course as the author, although I have only just read it. Although Salt Skin is not my usual genre I did find parallels with my own work. In particular, I considered Rhode’s development of the realism and her settings to be interesting. I was interested in the flow of the dialogue and the way it was used to propel the story forward, in contrast with the thoughts of the main character that were not spoken aloud.

 “After I drown there is a moment of nothingness. It lasts until I feel the broken shells beneath me and remember who I am..”

Salt Skin at times felt like a thriller, a page-gripping and fear inducing story, which I didn’t enjoy but avid readers of this might, and the fantasy elements admittedly lost me as well. However Rhodes offers enough tidbits to the reader that are solved later on to offer a well developed story and the characters and setting are believable and relevant that overall I did enjoy the novel.


Rhodes, M. (March 1, 2017). Salt Skin. Amazon Digital Services LLC. Retrieved from URL.


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