Horror Book Review: Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Horror Book Review

Title
: Nothing But Blackened Teeth
Author
Cassandra Khaw
Publication Date: Oct 19, 2021
Publisher: Tor Nightfire
Genres: Horror

Take one well-established haunted house tale, steep it in Japanese folklore, and drape it in exquisite writing, and you have the dark pleasure of Nothing But Blackened Teeth.

Cassandra Khaw hooked me from the start with the legend of the abandoned mansion, built with the bones of young women buried alive, one layered upon one another, all to feed the ghost of a sorrowful bride waiting for her groom to arrive. Populate it with a feuding company of friends, there to celebrate a wedding of their own, and you've got one hell of a haunted house horror story.

Like a wedding veil, a mourning caul. Like froth on the lip of a bride drowning on soil.

Of course, a concept can only carry a story so far, but Khaw uses those feuding friends to create an atmosphere of unease and discomfort, and then weaves such beautifully morbid language and imagery into the telling that you're compelled to keep reading. I wanted to know more about this mansion, I wanted to explore it, to tear down those walls, to discover where legend ends and truth begins. I wanted to know more about the characters, their backstories, their relationships, and why there was such tension between them. Most of all, though, I wanted more of that writing, more of the language that made me catch my breath and suppress a shudder.

It wasn't so much a library as much as it was an archive of corpses, manuscripts chewed up by the centuries, edges winnowed by insects.

While there were a few predictable moments to the story, they were still interesting because of how Khaw acknowledged the tropes she was playing with, adding an element of doubt and suspicion to the story. I was impressed with how far she took things, how dark she allowed the story to become, and even more appreciative of how she refused to le it end on shock and horror, lingering just long enough to leave us with sorrow instead.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth is a story to be read slowly and carefully, preferably on a dark night with the wind howling outside the window. Exquisite.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ 1/2

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Comments

  1. Awesome review! I agree, I thought this was such an interesting combo of elements, and the fighting amongst the characters worked so well with the story.

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