Review: Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

I have three brand new release reviews this week (who am I, even?!) and they all release on Tuesday so I'll be spreading them out a little bit and then you probably won't see a post from me until next month because I'll revert back to my slovenly ways, haha. This one comes out tomorrow! 


Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Released October 19, 2021

Dark Fiction  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Bookshop

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. 


My 2 Cents For Free!


I first read Cassandra Khaw in COME JOIN US BY THE FIRE, a free audio collection put out by Tor Nightfire. It’s still free as far as I know on Spotify and you should grab it! Khaw’s story THESE DEATHLESS BONES was one of my favorite stories of the collection. It read like a dark fairytale and was beautifully written. It felt more like an experience than simply reading a story (or having one read to me!). So I was very much looking forward to this novella and tell me that cover isn’t the stuff of nightmares! I’m keeping it around to spook my child because I am nothing if not mother of the year material, ha.

So what’s it about? I’ll tell you a little bit but hopefully not too much because it’s a novella and I think you should discover its secrets on your own. A group of friends head out to a destination wedding. But it’s not your typical wedding venue. The bride wants to get married in a haunted house so they’re all gathered in a Heian-era mansion in Japan where, if rumors are true, a bride asked to be buried alive when her groom didn’t make it for the nuptials and now she demands a little company each year in the form of a warm body while she eternally waits for her man to show. Being a ghost sounds like lonesome work so who can blame her?

This is probably not the best of ideas but a bride wants what she wants. However, this is a particularly not-so-great plan because this group of friends is a hot mess. Along with the gorgeous descriptions of the decaying mansion, it’s soon apparent that these “friends” have some mighty unfriendly history, including messy past relationships with each other, jealousies, and unresolved hurt. All that is sitting there simmering below the surface waiting to spill over. It makes me wonder why any of them agreed to go to this thing in the first place. Their interactions are strained and fraught with tension but the reader is never told exactly who did what to who or why and I was left floundering a little bit because I am nosy and I want all the backstory when it comes to relationship messes. The reader gets little tantalizing dribs and drabs as the characters argue and verbally stab each other so you’re left to fill in the blanks. I love novellas but I do wish this book had been a little longer to flesh out all of that stuff. This won’t bother you if you’re not as nosy as I am and you’re probably not!

The rest of the story is a beautifully written visit inside a haunted, crumbling mansion, filled with creepy-ass dolls, and what’s not to like about that? Nothing. There is nothing not to like about that if you’re asking me! I loved the imagery and the beauty of the writing,the folklore, the anger, the frayed nerves, and the brutally shocking moments.

Khaw’s novella is as creepy and darkly poetic as I was expecting and it was also exquisitely vicious so don’t let the atmospheric writing fool you into thinking this is a quieter horror novel. It’s not. I think it’s a great choice for a cool autumn night during this spooky season. Or any season when you want some eerie feelings creeping under your skin. I can’t wait to see what Khaw writes next!

⭐⭐⭐⭐



About Author Cassandra Khaw

Cassandra Khaw is an award-winning game writer, whose fiction work has been nominated for several awards. You can find their fiction in places like F&SF, Year's Best of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Tor.com. 

They can be found on Twitter mostly! twitter.com/casskhaw

Visit Cassandra Khaw's website here: http://www.cassandrakhaw.net/


Comments

  1. Atmospheric but not quiet horror, sounds delicious! Good review!

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  2. I really enjoyed this too. The weirdness between the characters added to the overall creepiness of the story, I think.

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    Replies
    1. They had such a weird dynamic that definitely added another layer of tension.

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  3. I need to pick this one up soon!

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  4. Get married in a haunted house. What could go wrong?? lol

    I don't scare easily but dolls creep me out!

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    ReplyDelete

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