For someone who can’t watch horror film trailers, I’m reading a bunch this fall. I think it’s because people think fall and they think spooky and Halloween. And while I’m not the biggest spooky person, I do love me a good cover and Tor.com novellas. Keep reading this book review of Nothing But Blackened Teeth for my full thoughts.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Have you ever fallen so in love with a cover? Even though the cover of Nothing But Blackened Teeth terrifies me, I love it so much. I think the two things I loved the most about this novella were the character dynamics and the Japanese folklore. The action of the story, haunted mansion and ghost brides, would be enough to thrill. But where Nothing But Blackened Teeth presents intrigue is in the character dynamics. There are secrets between these ‘friends’. All the flames and loves we think we’ve put out. The history between people that seem to haunt us.
And amidst this tension between the characters at the core is a setting of danger lurking beneath the surface. While I wish that there was a little more space devoted to the ending – especially with all the revelations – I still enjoyed this novella. One reason that the narrator, Suehyla El-Attar, truly excelled is in capturing the fear. The danger and the ways we second guess ourselves in the narration. It gave the entire thing an almost frenzied feeling especially towards the ending.
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Nothing But Blackened Teeth is visceral. While there’s danger on the surface, Khaw weaves a web of danger between the characters. It very much gave me this vibe of, “hell is other people” but mixed with actual supernatural beings too. It’s an obsessive novella about love and the things we don’t say to people. About the danger we think we know, but the risks we never see.