NOTHING BUT BLACKENED TEETH
Written by Cassandra Khaw
Published by Nightfire, October 19, 2021
My star rating – 3.5 stars
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 a good thing I read this book way before the publication date – it’s given me time to sit and think on this book. And let me tell you – my thoughts and opinions have been on a wild ride since then! This is the type of book that makes you feel one way while reading it, something else after you’re finished, and you continue to consider the events for weeks after, questioning your own sanity.
I would absolutely describe this as the “modern day The Haunting of Hill House”. The Haunting of Hill house, written by Shirley Jackson and originally published in 1959, features a women hired to stay in a haunted house and record any paranormal activity. There were many freaky things that happened and, when you’re knee deep in the book, you can’t quite possibly consider that it’s anything BUT paranormal. After finishing it though, it comes into question: was any of it real? Or was it really the descent of a woman plagued with mental illness? It’s been months since I finished that book and I still wonder. Same thing with THIS book!
Our characters travel to Japan to stay at an infamously haunted estate. The estate is the place of Japanese legend, said to be haunted by a bride who was left at the alter and vowed to remain there in spirit until she could finally be wed. It’s also been told that women were sacrificed and buried within the grounds to keep her company…. skin crawling, right? Apparently this group of friends thought it was the perfect place to get married….. not my idea of sweet matrimony but, hey, you do you.
This friend group is an interesting one. The bride and groom and 3 other friends have all been group since their teenage years and have a lot of baggage. They all seemed to have been in a relationship with each other at some point, even swapping a time or two. They also have secrets and a whole lot of anger and resentment towards each other. To make matters worse, the main character experienced a mental “episode” prior to the trip and had been hospitalized. When all was said and done, I was made to wonder the same thing as The Haunting of Hill House – was it all real? Did this really happen or was it an excuse for the anger and rage within this friend group to finally come to a head? I’M SO CONFLICTED!!!!
I will say though – this needed to be longer. I wished that there was more suspense leading up to the haunting events. It was a lot of me trying to figure out who was who and what the backstory was that was being eluded to and then BAM! Haunted figures, women whispering, and people dying….. I just didn’t feel the build up that I wanted to I guess. I also feel like the setting and atmosphere suffered due to the short length. I just wanted more. Had it been longer, there would have been more opportunity to up the ante.
I would say that this was only moderately creepy – but I’m a VERY hard person to scare, so maybe don’t take my advice on this front. That cover is glorious though! Having that image to think about as I was reading the scary scenes really helped set the tone. OMG could you imagine if this book had pictures throughout???? Now THAT would have made this book something really stunning! I will say though – if you’re not into graphic body horror/murder……. stay away. Far away. This does get pretty graphic!!! You’ve been warned.
All in all I really liked this! Not perfect, but still damn good! And the fact that it continues to make me ponder on what was real and what wasn’t speaks to the authors writing! Please let me know what your thoughts are on this one if you read it!!!
Until next time, happy reading!