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Book Review | Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

From the publisher: Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth is a gorgeously creepy haunted house tale, steeped in Japanese folklore and full of devastating twists.

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.

It’s spooky Season, GPL patrons! So I submit for your approval a review of one of the most talked about horror novellas from last year, Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw. …I just wish it was a more positive review.

Y’all, I wanted to like this. I requested the ARC (advanced reader copy) before the readers’ mixed reviews came in (currently 2.77 stars on Goodreads and 3.4 on Amazon), when it was still the ‘most anticipated book’ on multiple sites. Both Ursula Vernon and Seanan McGuire, two of my favorite authors, praised it. Horror isn’t one of my most-read genres, and it is subjective, especially in books as opposed to visual media, but…I found this to be just okay. To expand much more on the publisher’s synopsis above would invite spoilers, so I’ll say this is a quick novella with some creepy visuals, in a setting that refreshingly hasn’t been done to death (ha). However, I was much more disturbed by the rabbit hole of Wikipedia articles on human sacrifice that I fell down when looking up a term than the book itself. None of the characters really clicked for me, although it was refreshing to see a range of nationalities, and the narrator is bisexual.

At 128 pages, this is a quick read that seems like it would be a better fit as the final anchoring story of an horror anthology rather than as a novella. If the unique setting still sounds appealing, you may consider pairing this with another novella or a spooky television episode for an evening of terror as opposed to a stand alone experience.

Thank you very much to Tor Nightfire and NetGalley for the ARC.

Nothing But Blacked Teeth is available at Galesburg Public Library through Interlibrary Loan.

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