Cover Image: House of Roots and Ruin

House of Roots and Ruin

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Member Reviews

One of my students kept recommending 'House of Salt and Sorrows,' and I finally got around to it around Thanksgiving break. I was hooked on that novel, and I wanted more. This is exactly what I wanted. This book has incredible pacing, with twists and turns galore. Don't even get me started on how haunting and beautiful the prose is. This is THE gothic fiction you need in your life.
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"House of Roots and Ruin" is the sequel to "House of Salt and Sorrows" which I read again before reading this book. I was intrigued to continue the story of the youngest Thaumas sister, Verity. Craig does a brilliant job of intertwining mystery and gothic eeriness in this book just as she did the first book.

Verity, who still lives under the care of older sister Camille, wants to leave HIghmoor and experience a life of her own. When Mercy sends word to Verity that the Duchess of Bloem wants to commission a painting of her son, Alexander Laurent, Verity seizes the chance to escape the life she's always known leaving the ghosts behind her. Verity is intrigued by the beauty of Bloem and drawn to Alexander. It isn't long before Verity realizes there are much darker things lurking beneath the beautiful facade.

I enjoyed this book much better than "House of Salt and Sorrows." I did feel that the story began to drag in the middle and found myself skipping over parts to get to the dialogue. Craig does an amazing job with her vivid descriptions. There were a few times I put the book down to catch my breath. And that ending will leave you wanting more.
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CONTENT WARNING: ableism, death, violence, gore, murder, death of a child, forced drugging, blood

I really enjoyed the first book, even when I thought it was a standalone. But when a sequel was announced, I was thrilled. I enjoy Craig’s writing style, which comes across like a combination of a fairy tale and a gothic thriller, without ever getting too creepy or scary. Naturally, I was hoping for more of the same. Fortunately, Craig delivered big time with this one.

While the first book ended when Verity was still young, she’s grown into a lovely young lady now, but she’s still dealing with a lingering curse. We get to see how all of her other surviving sisters have fared, but Verity is still living at Highmoor, so not much has changed for her. Until she receives a letter inviting her to come to Bloem and paint a portrait of the duke’s son. Camille won’t allow her to go, and ultimately reveals a secret that has been kept from Verity for years—she sees ghosts.

But Verity sees an opportunity to live her life as she wants to for once, and jumps at the chance. Only, when she gets to Bloem, things aren’t quite what she was expecting. Everything seems perfect in the beginning, and she falls in love with Alexander, the duke’s son. But as more and more secrets are revealed, she has to reevaluate everything she thought all along.

I loved and was pleasantly surprised by the disability representation in the story. Alexander is paralyzed and in a wheelchair, and he has resources that he can use to keep himself as independent as possible. He’s never infantilized or treated as less than because he’s disabled, and that kind of representation is so important, especially seen in a love interest. 

I really liked Verity too. It’s her first time being outside of a setting that is fully dominated by family, and she’s just had the bombshell dropped on her that she is the only one who sees ghosts that she converses with. Verity struggles to identify who is a ghost and who isn’t because they seem so really to her, so when she’s outside of a comfortable zone for her, it’s very nerve-wracking, especially since she’s trying to make a favorable impression on the family she’s visiting with. She’s easy to like, and while I was often frustrated at how much she missed, I had to remind myself that this was her first time away from home and exposed to people who didn’t necessarily want what is best for her.

Alex was a little flat, but he came across as just a Prince Charming type—handsome and gallant, but not much to him other than that. The other side characters were more interesting, but that was what made the story so intriguing. There were a lot of plot twists, but after about the halfway point, I started being able to predict some of them. By the end, I was able to see the plot twists coming a mile away, although there were a couple that I didn’t predict. 

Ultimately, although this was a bit predictable, it was a really good read. I loved picking it up and diving into this world, with all of its shadows and mysteries, and I enjoyed uncovering all of the answers. Even right up until the end, I didn’t want to put the book down, and really enjoyed reading it. It’s moderately paced throughout the book, and it’s the perfect follow up to The House of Salt and Sorrows.
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The first one was good, but this one was amazing. Admittedly the first half was a bit slow for me, but soon the twists came and never stopped! I loved following Verity and her travels outside of her home and away from her sister. 

And the end of that epilogue? Oh my god. I need more already and this book isn’t even out technically!!

Once again Erin Craig does it again. I will be buying everything she writes.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of this amazing book!! WOW is all I can say after finishing this!   I read House of Salt and Sorrows a couple years ago and absolutely loved it and was eager to read more about the cursed sisters.  This story follows Verity, the youngest Salt sister who can see the dead,  as she takes off on her own to paint a portrait of a Duke’s son.   Verity tries to hide her secret but the Duke’s home and family have secrets of their own.   Verity encounters mystery after mystery and works to solve them and figure out what is really going on all while she is falling for the Duke’s son Alexander.   The story has fantasy, mystery, thrills, romance, and one heck of an ending.  I’m shocked!!! I can’t wait to find out how this plays out in the next book.
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Thank you Netgalley and Delacorte Press for allowing me to read and review House of Roots and Ruin. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

House of Salt and Sorrows is a book I never thought would get a sequel and one I never thought I would need in my life. But I do, I definitely do.

"This house has always felt full of ghosts to me - not of spirits in white sheets and chains, nothing as cliched as all that - but of memories snatched away. Memories I'll never be able to claim as mine."

House of Roots and Ruin is an atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful story about Verity, one of the twelve Thaumas sisters, years after the events of Salt and Sorrows. Erin A. Craig weaves a thrilling and menacing tale of deceptions and horrors at an estate where the handsome son of the Laurent's lives. Verity is given the chance to leave Highmoor and she is invited to paint a portrait of Alexander Laurent. When Verity's sister Camille tries to keep Verity from leaving and reveals a devastating secret, Verity decidedly flees. She is captivated by the beauty of the Laurent estate: Chauntilalie and the witty Alexander but as time goes on, things and people are not what they seem. Verity becomes plagued by the nightmares and the darkness of Chauntilalie.

Erin A Craig is a fantastic storyteller and she knows how to make your skin crawl. I absolutely love her books and I seriously hope we will get another one set in this world. Verity is a character you can root for and the character development in general is well-written and thought-out. I love all the horror and thrilling elements. The off-putting atmosphere of Chauntilalie will give you goosebumps.

Sometimes authors will put out a sequel years later and they can be disappointments due to high standards but definitely not this one. House of Roots and Ruin is a gorgeous sequel that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I didn't have a hard time piecing together what had happened in the first book before reading this one. If you are not able to read Salt and Sorrows beforehand you will be okay while reading Roots and Ruin.

"What was it that I really wanted? I wanted to paint. I wanted adventures. I did want someone to share that with. Eventually."

The pacing of the story is a tad slow but it is so worth keeping on for the build-up and the ending. If you love stories similar to the styles of Crimson Peak, Lakesedge, Juniper and Thorn, Where the Darkness Blooms and The Hazel Wood, you will adore the hauntings of House of Roots and Ruin. If you enjoyed Salt and Sorrows and Small Favors, you will not be disappointed by this master-piece of a sequel.

5 stars
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Atmospheric and haunting, I couldn't put this book down! Erin A. Craig has done it again. This was an absolutely incredible page-turner that kept me on the edge of my seat.
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In this dark, twisted sequel to House of Salt and Sorrows, Verity, now 18, longs to leave her sister Camille’s estate, where she has felt prisoner for as long as she has lived there.  When an opportunity arises inviting her to Bloem, she steals away.  Little does she know that she is leaving one house arrest situation for another.  The Duchess of Bloem has summoned Verity under the guise of painting her son, Alexander, when in reality she has been chosen as his bride to be.  Additionally, Verity finds herself a pawn in the middle of the Duke of Bloem’s scheme to create a god by using various plants from the extensive gardens along with “breeding” types of humans and demi-gods.  The twists and turns will keep readers turning the pages, as well as the absurdity and grotesque nature of the Duke’s experiments. This story could easily be a stand alone rather than a sequel–one need not read the first to understand the second.
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This book is a *sort of* sequel to HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS.  We follow the story of the youngest Thaumas sister, Verity, several years after the events detailed in HOSAS.  If you haven't read HOSAS, save this review for later and go read HOSAS!

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Abridged Goodreads Synopsis:  Despite dreams of adventures far beyond the Salann shores, Verity has remained at her family’s estate with her older sister Camille.  When one of their sisters sends word that the Duchess of Bloem—wife of a celebrated botanist—is interested in having Verity paint a portrait of her son, 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: Verity is still seeing ghosts, she just doesn’t know it.  Stunned, Verity flees Highmoor that night, heading straight to Bloem.  At first, she is captivated by the lush landscape and quickly drawn to the Duchess' son.  Romance even begins to blossom!  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...

Craig is masterful at creating compelling, atmospheric settings in her stories.  HORAR only emphasizes this.  Add another curse, ghosts, intrigue, and romance?  I was hooked!  The plot was intricately woven to elevate suspense, and that ending!?  The last page alone is reason enough to read this book.  And boy, we better get a sequel!

TL;DR: I liked this book so much that the day it comes out, I will be going to purchase a physical copy.
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I wanted to love this book. I loved House of Salt and Sorrows, but this book just... felt flat to me. I think part of my problem with this book is it's just too long. There's entire chapters where nothing happened that advanced the plot. We don't get to the heart of the plot until about 75% in and, by that point, it's just too late for me to care about the book.

Don't get me wrong - the book is enjoyable. Verity is an interesting enough protagonist and reading her journey mostly kept my interest, but anyone genre savvy will figure out most of the twists to the book by midway through the book. The book flips and flops between love interests and ideas so often it's hard to keep track of who we're supposed to be rooting for.

Overall, it's a solid read. It's definitely gothic fantasy, so if that's your thing, then check this out.
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I didn’t think I would love this book more than the first one but I was wrong. I couldn’t put it down. It got me out of a book slump and rejuvenated my love for the genre. The writing is superb. The atmosphere is intoxicating. I just love the world created in this series so much.
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This was absolutely delicious and I am so grateful to Netgalley and the Publisher for giving me the ability to read and review this wonderful book. Probably the best/most unputdownable book I have read this year! I loved the characters, the gothic atmosphere, the descriptions, and the pages literally turned themselves. I was so absorbed in the story I could not be bothered with eating or anything else. I HIGHLY recommend this book!
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Even better than House of Salt and Sorrows, wow! A creepy, gothic like atmosphere paired with a story that had me second guessing and trusting no one, I devoured this book.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the advanced copy of this book!

House of Roots and Ruin is a sequel to House of Salt and Sorrow, and takes place years after the first book. The youngest of the sisters, is now 17 and eager to leave on adventures of her own. She gets an offer from the wife of a famous botanist to paint of portrait of her son, Alexander. Camille doesn't want her to leave and tries to manipulate her into staying and finally tells Verity she's still seeing ghosts after all these years and doesn't realize it. Verity doesn't remember a lot of the events of the first book and eventually runs away in the middle of the night to Bloem. The family seems nice and welcoming, and Alexander is attractive and they soon form an attachment. But that's when weird things start to happen. Verity is having weird dreams and keeps questioning if what she is seeing is real. This book is peak gothic romance and gave me some Crimson Peak vibes. It's quite a wild ride, both fun and creepy. The ending has me desperate for a third book in the Sister of Salt series.
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My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

Disclaimer: If you haven’t read "House of Salt and Sorrows," it isn’t necessary to read that novel before reading this new installment. However, it is highly recommended as it will add backstory context and tension to "House of Roots and Ruin."

The Queen of the Uncanny returns! I absolutely loved this book and, honestly, enjoyed it even more than the first installment. I was second-guessing everything and everyone—and I had absolutely no trust for any of the characters (excluding Verity, of course). That dynamic alone catapulted me through the pages of this book and toward that jaw-dropping ending. 

Of course, I must start this review by complimenting Craig’s writing. Anytime I pick up her books, I know it’s going to be easy to slip into her uncanny, gothic worlds and simply enjoy the ride—which was absolutely the case here. I was blown away by her creepy, dark atmosphere, but also by her ability to constantly keep the reader on their toes. The tension between the characters was what kept me devouring the novel’s pages. I mentioned this in my introduction, but I cannot emphasize enough how little trust I had for anyone (especially the Laurent family). There was a layer of distrust to Verity’s narration—since she can see ghosts and they look like normal humans to her; you are constantly questioning what is and isn’t real—in addition to distrusting the Laurent family. Craig deftly navigated that dynamic in a way that elevated the overall story. 

In addition to that distrust factor, the sheer unpredictability of the plot literally had me gasping. That’s not to say the set up was completely overlooked—looking back, I argue that plot set-ups and foreshadowing were obvious—but the story digs its claws so deep into you and makes it incredibly easily to ignore and overlook those elements because of Verity’s narration (this is a positive thing!). Every twist and turn of the plot (of which there were many) had me diving into theories and holding on for dear life. This was by far the most thrilling novel I’ve read this year and I want to re-read it to catch details I may have missed—which goes to show how incredibly rich this plot and writing are. 

I have to mention the final 10% of this novel because, holy wow, my jaw was on the floor. Not only did it feel like I was on a rollercoaster ride, but that final 10% invoked so much fear and uncanny horror that I was physically reacting to this book. Craig truly took her gloves off and gave the reader what they wanted—and then some! Although, I will say the resolution was too short in comparison to how long this novel was. I would have loved at least one more chapter to help the reader (and the characters!) wind down after everything that happened. 

This may be an unpopular opinion (please don’t come for me), but I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance plot. If I had to pinpoint a weak point in the narrative, it was the chemistry and romance between Alex and Verity. While it was a tale of first love—seeing as both characters spent their entire childhood locked up in their respective manors—their romance felt a little instalovey and lacking in chemistry for me. The romance suffered due to the level of distrust I had toward the Laurent family. But, with that being said, I really liked the disability representation in this book and how healthily Alex discussed and showed that to the reader. 

I do hope that Craig returns to this uncanny, dark gothic world again in the future. She certainly left the door open for another installment, and I will be the first in line to pick up that book (if, you know, it does come to be). All in all, this may be Craig’s best book yet (and I loved "Small Favors") and I cannot wait for my physical copy to arrive in July. 

Thank you to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book.
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House of Roots and Ruin was a very enjoyable book for me! I love Erin A. Craig, especially her book Small Favors, so I was very excited to read this! I give this a 4/5 !
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Sexy possibility of a sequel, with Verity as a Main character again I am very intrigued. The whole Woobie Villian as a possible love interest but sticking with the love interest in a good play, but the ending going for a sequel makes me want to read by this author. Also, I like that the author gave sympathetic background to downright monstrous characters, without redeeming them. Though I am hoping for another ship, I'm hoping for a sequel for this book. This was a good read, I liked the fact that there was more than one bad guy.
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The cliffhanger ending is very good. I swear Erin Craig loves making these stories dark and creepy towards the end. She really has a talent at turning something pastoral and revealing the rot underneath. 

At first, I was very skeptical of this book. I didn’t know if it would live up to my love of the first one. The mystery, creep factor, and secrets were all great. Craig is very good at characterization. There were some parts of the story- secrecy siblings and the romance between Verity and Alex- that I wanted to be explored more. Especially the romance between Verity and Alex. I liked the beginning of it and how it showed Verity being unfamiliar with these feelings, but I feel like we rushed from dating to marriage too fast and Verity was just kinda okay with it. I think I would have liked the bridge between like and love to be a bit smoother. 

Other than that…the ending. Holy crap. They’re alive. Like shizzz. Well done.
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Much to unpack here but let's begin with this being #2 of one of my very favorite Fantasy stories. Honestly, it doesn't feel like a sequel and can easily stand on its own as original adjacent. There was nothing so complicated from the first book [House of Salt & Sorrows] that would preclude you from starting here and fully enjoying it. The trauma and cursedness of the Thaumas sisters was explained throughout and woven back into the suspense so no loss there at all.
Craig has a wonderful talent for atmosphere and giving characters a place to live and grow and be haunted in with details that are necessary to the story - still 544 pages is an awful big commitment, were I not an invested YA Fantasy reader and fan of book #1 I might pass on this one. There are slow and elegant reveals of turmoil, tension that builds between multiple relationships, and always reasons to keep reading and yet I found myself figuring this one out well before it was over so the ending didn't necessarily surprise me but it did please me and left a broad path for the continuation of the tale with Verity still in the limelight as opposed to moving on to another sister's story.
Timeless themes of creation and just who can and can't play at being a God; the Gods' involvement or lack of in the lives of ordinary people, not so ordinary people's coming to terms with their gifts/curses and circumstances, expectations upon expectations upon disappointments and always a slant on who comes to the rescue or even needs to be rescued at all. I personally enjoyed the romantic piece of this as it explored the aspect of a love that is built vs. fireworks at inception. You'll root for Verity at every turn.
Thanks to NetGalley for the e-copy, this as always is my honest review.
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I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review. 

Erin A. Craig returns to the world of Sisters of the Salt with a new installment in her Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, House of Roots and Ruin, but this time a new sister will take the helm and a new story will unfold! We are long past the days of worn out dancing shoes, but it seems the meddling gods are still very much present!

First, one quick disclaimer, you do not have to have read House of Salt and Sorrow before reading this one. This one will follow a completely different sister many years after those events. You get brief mentions of those past events but it won't be anything to confuse you from the story at hand.

I was super excited to dive into this story! It takes place a magical and important twelve years later. All of Verity living sisters have married and moved on, while she remained at Highmoor with her oldest sister Camille. Though Verity longs for something more, she wants to leave Highmoor and have her own adventure, find her own chance at true love, though her sister is strictly against the idea. But when Verity receives a letter from the Duchess of Bloem asking her to come to the manor to pain a portrait of her son, Alexander, there's no telling Verity no. But when her sister does in fact say no, Verity does what any princess would do, she runs away and does it anyway!

Upon arriving at Bloem we see gardens filled with gorgeous flowers, as the Duke of Bloem is very much a man of the flower! Verity quickly learns that Alexander is a boy around her age who, after a terrible childhood accident has been reduced to life in a wheelchair. I mention this only because it is here we get the strong vibes of the next to be seen retelling, and that is The Secret Garden. But the garden here is going to end up being a very dangerous and deadly sort as we soon will learn.

Things start off well enough in the story, things are simple enough, but Verity does learn one terrifying secret before she leaves home, and that is she can see ghosts! The problem with that is she can't always tell when she's speaking with someone who is alive or with someone who is dead. Ghosts pretty much look like living people to her. She soon learns that the mansion of Bloem is hiding its own secrets and its own ghosts. Before she knows it, she's pulled into a very twisted and intricate mystery and if she's not careful, she might find herself more entwined than she's ever wanted to be.

This book...oh this book! I remember my feelings over Craig's debut were much of the same! I was loving the fairy tale vibes, and while I don't really consider The Secret Garden a fairy tale, you get a more sinister version of that story here, mixed in with ghosts, mystery, and many secrets! It was definitely a page turner of a read with all its 500+ pages! I will admit that there were occasional moments where I felt like the story was dragging a bit, pacing wise, but it never lasted long before the next intriguing or shocking thing would happen!

Honestly, the fact that Verity could see ghosts really had me intrigued! I love a good ghost story! That Verity had trouble determining who was alive and who was not, made for decadent reading!

The mystery and secrets started to unravel themselves in bits and pieces! I mean, I'd say maybe around the halfway mark or just past it the story takes on a game-changing turn and from there it's chaos! Blissfully, delicious chaos! Oh, how I wish I could dive into this part more, but alas, I will not spoil it for you! Just be aware that, though the pacing may be a little slow in the beginning, things will pick up and you better hold on when they do because it becomes a whirlwind of a read after that!

Romance, because you know I have to touch on that! Verity and Alex definitely have a bit of chemistry going between them! They have that sweet first love kind of romance going on between them. Alex has never really ever been able to leave his house and go places, and Verity was always confined to her manor, they have a lot in common...and yet, I was a bit surprise they never seemed to want to make plans for traveling. I get that Alex was in a wheelchair and travel might prove difficult, but they never really said, "we'll find a way!" They both just seemed content to stay in a house of their own for the foreseeable future until it was time for Alex to become the Duke of Bloem. Weird, but just one of those tiny nuisances you think of after the fact.

The ending of this book was unbelievable! Just as one shocking moment came to a conclusion it's followed by a series of jaw dropping moments! I don't think I've ever been so shocked before in my reading lifetime! Lol! Although, I will admit, I did have questions at the end, like so many questions! None that I can voice because of spoiler reasons but then that last sentence! Oh that last sentence kind of ruined me! Lol! Only in the sense that I was right! Which then presents the problem of is this THEN END?! I rather think it is...but I never say never to a sequel. I mean the author might...but then I've seen them go back to a "finished" series before and create a new story to add onto things. Will this be the end of the Thaumus sisters or will there be another story for perhaps another one of the girls? Who's to say, really?

House of Roots and Ruin was without a doubt one of the most jaw-dropping reads I've read this year! It was such a perfect blend of fantasy and thriller and I am in love with this new genre idea! The joys of "fairytale" like settings blended with the absolute chilling! It's a genre I feel like that needs to be greatly expanded up in depth! Luckily for us, Craig seems to have this genre down pat! If you want something fantastical and chilling, look no further than Erin A. Craig! 

Overall Rating 5/5 stars

House of Roots and Ruin releases July 25, 2023
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