House of Roots and Ruin is the second book in Erin A. Craig’s tremendous YA-Fantasy series, Sisters of the Salt.
I looooooooved the first book, House of Salt and Sorrows, so much and I couldn’t wait to return to this beautifully-eerie world. It was one of my most anticipated YA-releases of 2023 and it did not disappoint.
This story takes place years after the conclusion of the first story. In this one, we’re following Verity, who I believe is the youngest of the remaining Thaumas sisters.
Verity is 17-years old and has spent her whole life living at the family estate, Highmoor, now run by her older sister, Camille. The rest of the remaining sisters are all all living in various places around Arcannia.
While Verity loves Camille and loves Highmoor, she’s beginning to feel stifled. She wants more.
Any time she broaches the subject of leaving the estate with Camille, however, her hopes are quickly dashed. It seems her sister wants to keep her trapped there, but why?
It’s as Verity is struggling with this issue that she receives word from her sister, Mercy, that the Duchess of Bloem is interested in hiring Verity to paint a portrait of of her son.
Verity is more than intrigued. This sounds like exactly the kind of opportunity she needs and the son, Alexander, is a young man just her age. This could be just what she needs, but how will she ever convince Camille to let her go?
As the sisters battle it out, the truth about why Camille wants to keep Verity at Highmoor is revealed, leaving Verity more confused than ever and more determined.
Verity decides she can’t wait any longer. Under the cover of darkness she flees, making her way to Bloem.
Once there, she’s entranced and impressed with her new surroundings. Bloem is stunning. The Duke is a celebrated botanist and the entire estate is replete with vibrant gardens and active greenhouses.
Additionally, Verity is smitten with Alexander. He’s handsome and charming. Their days together fill her with a sense of happiness she has never felt before.
Unfortunately, before long, Verity begins to be plagued by nightmares and dark feelings. Is her past catching up to her, or is something more going on in Bloem?
Reading House of Roots and Ruin was such a beautiful journey. It’s different than the first book, because of the setting. We’re now removed from the sea and thrust into a more botanical scene, but I still really enjoyed it.
In my opinion, Craig’s brand of gothically-infused horror imagery is unmatched in the YA genre. She brings such a rich atmosphere and the spooky imagery is A++.
The romance between Verity and Alexander was so pure and it was sweet watching it evolve. Verity has never had any sort of relationship like this, so she struggled a bit fitting her experiences with her expectations.
I thought that felt very real for a young woman and I enjoyed how Craig let her work through that versus just following a standard romance format.
I also enjoyed very much the complexity of the familial relationships, both Verity’s and Alexander’s. While the atmosphere was the highlight for me, I think the character work and the way the relationships played out deserve top marks as well.
We know a lot of Verity’s family history from the first book, and we do get a bit more here, but learning about Alex’s family, the Laurents, was so intriguing. Without giving too much away, I sort of feel like their last name should have been Moreau…
Craig did a great job of steadily building intensity. There is also an overriding mystery that kept me on my toes.
As the end approaches, everything begins to move at warp speed. I couldn’t put it down until I got to the end. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out and there were some twists getting there that I definitely didn’t see coming.
I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a darker Fantasy story, particularly if you enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrows. While I could see people enjoying this as a standalone novel, I think it would be most impactful if you read the first book prior to this one.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m not sure if there are going to be more books in this world, but if there are, I will absolutely be picking them up!!