Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
Expected publication by Tor Nightfire on October 19th 2021
Genres: Horror, Novella
Format: eARC (this was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review)
“Time etched itself into the shape and stretch of the Heian mansion, its presence apparent in even the texture of the crumbling dark. It felt profane to see the place like this: without curators to chaperone us, no one to say do not touch and be careful, this was old before the word for such things existed.”
This book is described as a ‘grotesquely creepy haunted house tale’ and honestly that is the perfect description for this book. As you read you follow Cat and a group of friends into a house that doesn’t just have skeletons in the closet, but in the walls as well.
Right off the bat you can tell you’re not being told everything, that as the tale goes on you’re going to have to peel away the untruths to find the secrets hidden away beneath the surface and untangle the threads that weave this group of characters together.
“In another life, I had been brave. Growing up where we did, back in melting-pot Malaysia, down in the tropics where the mangroves spread dense as myths, you knew to look for ghosts. Superstition was a compass: it steered your attention through thin alleys, led your eyes to crosswalks filthy with makeshift shrines, offerings and appeasements scattered by traffic.”
Another character in this book is the house itself, it is a breathing and watching specter, that holds its secrets close and watches with bulging eyes.
“You know how poets say sometimes that it feels like the whole world is listening? It was just like that. Except with a house instead of an auditorium of academics, collars starched, textbooks like scriptures, each chapter color-coded by importance. The manor inhaled. It felt like church. Like the architecture had dulled its heartbeat so it could hear me better, the wood warping, curling around the room like it was a womb, and I was a new beginning.”
While this is a much more lyrically and metaphorically described book than I’m used to, it really helped immerse you into the story. I definitely had to go back read a few sentences over to really understand what was going on. And as has been suggested by other reviewers this is definitely not a book to rush through. It’s a book that will make you flinch from its teeth, but still have you coming back for more.
“Have you ever cannonballed into a cold lake? The shock of an old memory is kind of like that; every neuron singing a bright hosanna: here we are. You forgot about us, but we didn’t forget about you.”
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
About the book
A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.
It’s the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends.
But a night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.
And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.
Murder, death, vomit, gore, violence, body horror, blood, panic attacks, implied infidelity, implied suicide attempt in the past, and grief.
And I definitely might have missed something, if I did please tell me!