Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
Publisher: Tor Dot Com
Publication date: 19 October 2021
Page count: 128 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
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 venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends, brought back together to celebrate a wedding.
A night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare as secrets get dragged out and relationships are tested.
But the house has secrets too. 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.
Effortlessly taking the classic haunted house story and turning it on its head, Nothing but Blackened Teeth is a sharp and devastating exploration of grief, the parasitic nature of relationships, and the consequences of our actions.
This short horror novella wins the award for the simultaneously most gorgeous AND horrifying cover. In fact, it is the cover that actually drew me to this book in the first place. As someone who is trying to read more horror books, I couldn’t resist!
Nothing But Blackened Teeth is more of an understated book that I would have imagined — and that’s not a bad thing. Khaw’s writing is lyrical and although there are plenty of horrifying moments (I won’t be able to comfortably look in a mirror for a few weeks), I felt that this book was more about the total breakdown of this group of ‘friends’. Tensions are high before the haunting begins, and its just a powder keg waiting to go off. This is the kind of thing I love in horror media (see: my love of The Thing and the incredible tensions between the group), and Khaw did a great job creating that high-tension atmosphere.
This book is tense, creepy, and has excellent horror imagery. It was a great read, and perfect for your Halloween TBR (but maybe keep the lights on).
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