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‘House of Roots and Ruin’ review: Erin A. Craig’s newest novel is masterclass is spooky storytelling

By July 25, 2023No Comments3 min read

Once again, Erin Craig has delivered a book that has simultaneously given me nightmare fuel for the next year and a sweet, touching love story all in one package. House of Roots and Ruin will draw you in with its spooky vibes and well crafted mystery, but ultimately, I stayed for the romance. 

A haunted protagonist

Verity Thaumas feels trapped. Her older sisters have all moved on with their lives and had their own adventures out in the wider world. Meanwhile she is forced to still live at home, caring for her oldest sister’s children. When she receives an invitation to come stay at the Duchess of Bloem’s estate in order to paint a portrait of her son, Verity jumps at the chance to travel. When she tells her older sister Camille, though, Camille forbids it. Verity demands to know why, and Camille finally tells the secret she’s been keeping: Verity sees ghosts, but she just doesn’t realize it.

At first, Verity refuses to believe it. However, when it’s proved to her that her nursemaid has been dead for over a decade and only she can see her, she’s forced to face the truth. Panicked, Verity flees her home that night and heads for Bloem, determined to still have her adventure. When she first arrives, everything seems perfect. The duchess and her husband are kind, and their son is very handsome… Verity finds herself starting to have feelings for him. 

She wants to throw herself into this romance and forget about the ghosts of her past. Unfortunately, these ghosts might have followed her to Bloem. And it’s starting to look like Bloem may not be perfect after all.

Horrors beyond your imagination

Throughout the course of the story, the level of creepiness slowly builds. We start with a simple seaside ghost tale, which could send a shiver up your spine, but nothing more. As the story progresses, the author sprinkles in more strange details that raise your suspicions higher and higher. By the time it reaches the climax, even though it’s bonkers, it feels earned because of the slow build-up. 

House of Salt and Sorrows fully embraced the seaside aesthetic, immersing you in that deep blue world. This installment leans into the greenhouse aesthetic, surrounding you with green and gold. Craig’s lush descriptions transport you instantly to the ancient castle. Her illustration of the peacock screams in particular will raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

What really sells this story for me, always, is the two main characters, particularly Verity. Alexander is so, so sweet, but Verity’s spunk really sold me. All of my favorite scenes were just between the two of them. 
If you’re looking for a spooky read to bring a chill to your summer and you’re a fan of stories like The Haunting of Hill House, this is the perfect read to end your July!

House of Roots and Ruin was published on July 25, 2023.

Featured image courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Abby Costello

Abby Costello has been writing for about books professionally for the past three years, but she’s been overanalyzing everything she reads and watches since day one. Seriously, don’t even bring up Beauty and the Beast. Outside of this website, she teaches 7th grade English in Northern California and works as a freelance writer on the side.

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