HOUSE OF ROOTS AND RUIN, Book 2 of 2: Sisters of the Salt, by Erin A. Craig, Delacorte Press, July 25, 2023, Hardcover, $19.99 (young adult)
A young woman is haunted by ghosts in Erin A. Craig’s new Gothic YA thriller-fantasy, House of Roots and Ruin.
In a manor by the sea, one sister is still cursed.
Despite dreams of adventures far beyond the Salann shores, seventeen-year-old Verity Thaumas has remained at her family’s estate, Highmoor, with her older sister Camille, while their sisters have scattered across Arcannia.
When their sister Mercy sends word that the Duchess of Bloem — wife of a celebrated botanist — is interested in having Verity paint a portrait of her son, Alexander, Verity jumps at the chance, but Camille won’t allow it. Forced to reveal the secret she’s kept for years, Camille tells Verity the truth one day: Verity is still seeing ghosts, she just doesn’t know it.
Stunned, Verity flees Highmoor that night and — with nowhere else to turn — makes her way to Bloem. At first, she is captivated by the lush, luxurious landscape and is quickly drawn to charming, witty, and impossibly handsome Alexander Laurent. And soon, to her surprise, a romance . . . blossoms.
But it’s not long before Verity is plagued with nightmares, and the darker side of Bloem begins to show through its sickly-sweet façade… —Synopsis provided by Delacorte Press
House of Roots and Ruin takes place years after Erin A. Craig’s excellent House of Salt and Sorrows. Craig could have easily left the world of Sisters of the Salt behind after her first novel, but took a gamble with exploring the world from a younger sister’s point of view.
This time around, the central character is Verity, a young and naïve girl who has spent most of her life sheltered on a remote island. When Verity learns that she’s been seeing ghost for years without realizing it, she runs away, somehow thinking that will make her problem disappear. Over the course of the book, Verity realizes her sister’s concerns are well-founded. Verity’s “gift” has put her in great danger.
Verity is a bit wishy washy to begin with, but if you keep in mind her past, you are able to see growth as House of Roots and Ruin moves forward. As a reader, it’s clear from the beginning that things are not all that they seem; it just takes Verity a little longer to catch up.
Is House of Roots and Ruin better than its predecessor? No. Is the ending more than a little jolting? Yes. Should you still read it? Yes. Craig is masterful at setting a scene, and that alone should get you to open the book. That, plus, it’s a fairly engrossing read.
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