The Roots in Your Bones by Samantha Eaton
Release Date: September 19, 2023
“Trust is a shaky thing…”
….and this book’s protagonist Marisa isn’t exactly standing on solid ground. Reeling from an unexpected divorce from her demanding husband, she and her cat Beef embark on a cross-country drive to the coastal town of Bowen’s Leg, Maine, with her meager belongings (and a whole lot of uncertainty) in tow. Thanks to a friendly coworker, she’s landed a gig as a house-sitter for a cozy— if not ominous— log cabin, but the excitement of free lodging and a fresh start soon fades as she begins to uncover the town’s local legend about the cabin’s former inhabitant: Evie, who went missing two decades ago after reportedly cursing (and/or murdering) a man. Aided by Evie’s missing journal and local resident Jonah, who’s eager to befriend the introverted Marisa, the pair seek to rid the cabin of its curse, battling hallucinations, violent spirits, and fading hope in order to right the wrongs of the past.
Despite only being around 230 pages, this was an intense read, with plenty of gorgeous imagery and complex emotions to get lost in— Samantha Eaton is one to watch in the folk horror genre! I’d definitely consider this book a mix between supernatural and folk horror, with hints of comedy (thanks to the classic banter between Jonah and Marisa) and women’s fiction (via Marisa’s ruminations on her failed marriage) too. It even made me enjoy first-person narration, which doesn’t happen all that often for me! Marisa’s quest to figure out who she is and who she wants to be in the wake of overwhelming change was such a relatable experience of girlhood— for anyone who’s ever felt a little bit lost, whether as a result of an ending marriage or otherwise.
I’m hesitant to dive too deep into the plot here, because there are some twist and turns throughout the book that I didn’t see coming— and I want to preserve that element of surprise for you too!— so instead, I want to focus on Samantha Eaton’s usage of language and characters to establish a vivid and gripping setting for this mysterious horror tale. Just like Marisa (who’s left her old life in Madison, Wisconsin, fading in the rearview mirror), the readers are new to the town of Bowen’s Leg, Maine, so we’re able to discover the mysteries one step at a time alongside the book’s protagonist. It allows for a much more natural unfolding of the story (rather than the traditional expositional info-dumping that we all know and loathe); it’s also evident that Samantha Eaton herself has spent a lot of time in small mountain towns, because she seamlessly conveyed some of the archetypes of places like this (the diner waitress, the ever-helpful older couple, the local shopkeepers who know everyone around town) without playing into trite stereotypes. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, but Eaton nailed it!
While I know I’m technically going out of order by reading The Roots in Your Bones before any of the author’s other titles, I know exactly what book I’m adding to my TBR list next: Eaton’s debut novel The Insatiable Hunger of Trees. The roots of her writing have certainly taken hold of me (yes, pun intended), and I’m not ready to let go! There’s so much more to this brilliant story— a ritualistic haunting, a budding romance, and a bit of horse-girl realness— but I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy on release day today!
Note: I received a physical copy of this book from the author prior to release. Visit @spoonie.reads on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/spoonie.reads/) to view this review there as well, and reach out to me via DMs for future review inquiries!