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Book Review: House of Roots and Ruin by Erin A. Craig

In House of Roots and Ruin, Erin A. Craig returns readers to the lives of the Thaumas sisters from House of Salt and Sorrow. Verity, the youngest of the twelve sisters who is turning eighteen when the new book opens, narrates the story. Six of the twelve Thaumas sisters died in House of Salt and Sorrow, a mysterious retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and Verity now resides with her oldest sister Camille, the Duchess of Highmore. Verity’s talent for painting earns her a commission to create a portrait for the 20-year-old son of another aristocratic family living on the mainland in Bloem, and when Camille, who is worried about Verity’s ability to see and talk to ghosts, forbids her leaving, Verity runs away, eager to prove herself to her family while learning more about the world.

Fans of House of Salt and Sorrow will be delighted with Craig’s new book which is filled with romance, mystery, and Gothic details. Although the new book is a stand-alone novel, it revisits the Thaumas sisters who have scattered across the islands and mainland to begin their adult lives. Verity’s narrative voice pulled me back into Craig’s beautifully rendered world, and, because Verity was seeing the mainland for the first time, her descriptions filled me with a sense of wonder. Craig’s writing is full of sumptuous detail. The windswept shores of the islands which feature in Craig’s first book are replaced by the heady gardens and overflowing greenhouses of Bloem. I loved reading about the beautiful fashion, architecture, and customs of the “People of the Petals”, and I enjoyed the fairy tale references to dark secrets, hidden passageways, and forbidden chambers inspired by The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Bluebeard. As Verity begins a romantic relationship and becomes increasingly isolated from her family, she encounters life-threatening scenarios that keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Craig’s books do feature shocking plot twists which appeal to her young adult audience, and while I would have preferred more restraint in the conclusion, I was so riveted by the Gothic details, mysterious characters, and haunting settings that I couldn’t put the book down. Craig’s writing transports me to new worlds, and I hope she follows House of Roots and Ruin with a new fairy tale inspired story of another surviving Thaumas sister. Fans of Gothic fiction, mystery, and romance will love this book!

You can learn more about ordering it here.

Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of the book in exchange for a fair review.

Kelly Jarvis is the Special Projects Writer and Contributing Editor for The Fairy Tale Magazine. Her work has appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer, Blue Heron Review, Forget-Me-Not Press, Mermaids Monthly, The Chamber Magazine, and Mothers of Enchantment: New Tales of Fairy Godmothers. She teaches at Central Connecticut State University.

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