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Nothing But Blackened Teeth

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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-seeki 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.


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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-seeki 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.

30 review for Nothing But Blackened Teeth

  1. 5 out of 5

    karen

    NOW AVAILABLE!!! if you like reading horror novels for their rich character development where all your questions about their individual and collective pasts are answered, move along. if you like reading horror novels because you want to be in the same WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? headspace as the characters for a little while, have a seat—you're gonna love this haunted house story. a group of five friends reunite in japan for a destination wedding, renting a heian-era mansion where obscenely wealthy gol NOW AVAILABLE!!! if you like reading horror novels for their rich character development where all your questions about their individual and collective pasts are answered, move along. if you like reading horror novels because you want to be in the same WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? headspace as the characters for a little while, have a seat—you're gonna love this haunted house story. a group of five friends reunite in japan for a destination wedding, renting a heian-era mansion where obscenely wealthy golden boy-heir phillip will officiate the sacred union of faiz and talia. it would all be picture-postcard idyllic, except for the fact that the mansion's already got a bride in it—or what's left of one: the bones of a woman whose almost-husband died on the way to their wedding, who had herself buried alive in the foundation to wait for his ghost to come home. and every year after that, another girl was buried alive in the walls, to keep her company. now, in a typical ghost story, this tragic-wedding backstory would be an unexpected discovery, causing concern and dismay amongst the wedding guests, but here it's a selling point. these particular friends grew up ghosthunting through malaysia together, and blushing bride talia's girlhood dream was to be married in a haunted house. wish = granted. ...the interior didn't smell like it'd had people here, not for a long, long time, and smelled instead like such old buildings do: green and damp and dark and hungry, hollow as a stomach that'd forgotten what it was like to eat. the dream wedding quickly becomes a nightmare, but not—at first—for the reasons you'd expect. the guests have all brought their own ghosts with them, in the form of old grievances, secrets, flirtations, and conflicts, and none of them seem to like each other very much. our ingress into the story is cat, a woman whose unspecified mental instability; her 'terminal ennui,' made her suicidal and led to a hospitalization from which she has not really recovered. there's also a particular hostility between her and talia, and with the arrival of lin, a consummate disruptor, the tensions between all of them escalate, fueled by alcohol, creepy games, and, you know, being assailed by a parade of demons. there's a lot left unsaid here, when it comes to the characters' shared past, and who has beef with whom and why, but when it comes to the horror elements, every disturbing and grotesque situation is laid out in thick chewy prose, even if i couldn't always wrap my head around the visuals, which is a long-standing me-problem. although wayyyyyy more graphic than shirley jackson, it's very shirley jackson-esque in the way it sets up the seductive nature of a haunting to a character whose fragile mental health empathizes with the loneliness of the restless dead and catches that yearn: You know how poets say sometimes that it feels like the whole world is listening? It was just like that. Except with a house instead of an auditorium of academics, collars starched, textbooks like scriptures, each chapter color-coded by importance. The manor inhaled. It felt like church. Like the architecture had dulled its heartbeat so it could hear me better, the wood warping, curling around the room like it was a womb, and I was a new beginning. Dust sighed from the ceiling. Spiderwebs fell in umbilical cords, a drape of silver. It felt like the house talking to me through the mouths of moths and woodlice, the creak of its foundations, the little black summer ants chewing through what remained of our food like we'd left bodies, not balled-up, slickly gleaming cling wrap. The air smelled of raw meat, lard, and bits of seared protein. I hoped to hell in that moment that she was listening. Half because I was tired of being unloved, being pitied like a fawn panting its last handful of breaths into a ditch. Half because I hoped it was all true. A little bit of magic. Even if it was hungry. Even if it was a house with rotting bones and a heart made out of a dead girl's ghost, I'd give it everything it wanted just for scraps. Some unabridged attention, some love. Even if it was from a corpse with blackened teeth. Anything to feel alive again right now. it's a dark and icky story, but lin's frequent "You guys go do protagonist shit" meta-commentaries on horror tropes provide some welcome comic relief through the onslaught. you're gonna be left with some questions at the end: relationships are messy, mental health is messy, hauntings are messy. there are books that do a better job making you understand and care about the characters, but sometimes you just wanna turn over a rock and watch things squirm. P.S. i want whoever did the cover art for this book...do the work, karen...samuel araya—DEAR SAMUEL ARAYA, please illustrate some of the...occurrences in this book, specifically dolls and kitsune and tanuki k thx. P.P.S. my ARC informed me that there is a 'preorder campaign with promotional item' for this book, so i RACED to find out what this item could be. it is one of these: i do not have a phone—who has suggestions about how to repurpose one of these things? preorder link ******************************************* i want to wallpaper my apartment with this cover. come to my blog!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Wait a minute! Did I read the blurb correctly? Is this book about a wedding celebration at one of the creepiest, most ominous and terrifying place at Heian- era Japanese mansion built by the resting bones of a bride and remains of girls who sacrificed themselves to accompany her? What a batshit, mind bending plot line! After reading the blurb and taking a very long look at the impactful, haunted cover that may give you nightmares for the entire month, I simply screamed: I’m all in! This is quiet Wait a minute! Did I read the blurb correctly? Is this book about a wedding celebration at one of the creepiest, most ominous and terrifying place at Heian- era Japanese mansion built by the resting bones of a bride and remains of girls who sacrificed themselves to accompany her? What a batshit, mind bending plot line! After reading the blurb and taking a very long look at the impactful, haunted cover that may give you nightmares for the entire month, I simply screamed: I’m all in! This is quiet brilliant Japanese folklore waltzes with fables full of metaphors and allegories meet mystery/ thriller genres! A realistic approach to mental illness and fractured friendship patterns. It was hooking but I wish instead of stuck at the creative author’s mind who presents us lots of metaphors with embellished depictions, I’d like to see more action packed, moving story of the characters. The writing style was unique but it was also too complex and wordy at some parts. You want to focus on the mystery and events instead of philosophical approach between similarities of ghosts and real people’s way of handling things. But I enjoyed the originality and the criticism of broken friendship and tense atmosphere which push me to read till the end at one seat. I’m cutting some points because of unbalanced pace ( too slow with long metaphorical elaborations but some parts are too fast to absorb! ) Overall: I think the half star I gave because of this stunning cover and I’m giving my 3.5 starts to be rounded up to 4 heart pounding, claustrophobic, gothic, very disturbing, Japanese stars! Special thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan -Tor/ Forge for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ~ Bantering Books

    Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews. Oh, my eyes! My eyes! I don’t think I’ll ever unsee the cover for Nothing But Blackened Teeth. It’s terrifying. The unsettling image of the Japanese ghost bride is the stuff of which nightmares are made, and it will be forever embedded in my mind, gleefully waiting in the wings to haunt me every chance it gets. Fortunately for my pitifully low fear threshold, the cover was the scariest part of Cassandra Khaw’s Japanese-folklore horror Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews. Oh, my eyes! My eyes! I don’t think I’ll ever unsee the cover for Nothing But Blackened Teeth. It’s terrifying. The unsettling image of the Japanese ghost bride is the stuff of which nightmares are made, and it will be forever embedded in my mind, gleefully waiting in the wings to haunt me every chance it gets. Fortunately for my pitifully low fear threshold, the cover was the scariest part of Cassandra Khaw’s Japanese-folklore horror novella. The story creeped me out and grossed me out more than it ever truly scared me. And I kind of wonder why I liked it so much. Because Khaw’s prose is over-the-top pretentious and obscure. She uses really big words for the heck of it, words even I do not know, and the story feels annoyingly, eye-rollingly overwritten. Furthermore, Khaw casually tosses about Japanese terminology such as hitobashira, yokai, and gashadokuro but provides neither definitions nor explanatory context for the terms. Thank goodness for Google. It saved me from drowning in unfamiliar words. But for all my frustration with the writing, I can’t deny the fact that I enjoyed Khaw’s novella. At only 125 pages in length, Nothing But Blackened Teeth is an extremely quick and compelling read. Khaw skillfully builds suspense slowly, and she does a nice job of creating eerie, ghostly atmosphere. The story is fun, too, in that it’s a little bit meta, while also a touch surreal. And in true horror-story fashion, the ending is shocking, twisted, and horrendously gory. Fans of the genre will be pleased with it, I think. If Nothing But Blackened Teeth intrigues you, then by all means give it a try. You may find, as I did, that your like for it outweighs all other irritations. Keep Google handy, though. You’re gonna need it. Nothing But Blackened Teeth publishes October 19th, 2021. My sincerest appreciation to Cassandra Khaw and Nightfire for the physical Advance Review Copy. All opinions included herein are my own. Bantering Books Instagram Twitter Facebook

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    These characters drove me absolutely insane 🤯 They ruined the entire experience for me, and this book premise had SO much potential so I’m big sad that I didn’t like this one 😭 Reading vlog: https://youtu.be/1-Q5QE_faPY These characters drove me absolutely insane 🤯 They ruined the entire experience for me, and this book premise had SO much potential so I’m big sad that I didn’t like this one 😭 Reading vlog: https://youtu.be/1-Q5QE_faPY

  5. 4 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    **3.5-stars rounded up** Nothing But Blackened Teeth has wormed its way into my mind and it won't go away. I cannot stop thinking about it! I finished this story early this morning and have slowly raised my rating incrementally as the day has worn on. I started at 3-stars, in 12-hours, I have rounded up to 4-stars. Who knows how high this could go!? What could be better than a long-abandoned, reportedly-haunted, Heian-era mansion as a intimate destination wedding location? For Nadia and Faiz, nothin **3.5-stars rounded up** Nothing But Blackened Teeth has wormed its way into my mind and it won't go away. I cannot stop thinking about it! I finished this story early this morning and have slowly raised my rating incrementally as the day has worn on. I started at 3-stars, in 12-hours, I have rounded up to 4-stars. Who knows how high this could go!? What could be better than a long-abandoned, reportedly-haunted, Heian-era mansion as a intimate destination wedding location? For Nadia and Faiz, nothing. Nadia has always wanted to get married in a haunted mansion and after their friend, Phillip, buys them all first class tickets to Japan, now is their chance. The group, made up of Nadia, Faiz, Cat, our narrator, Phillip and Lin, do not all get along. In fact, I wondered frequently why they were traveling together. Nadia and Cat hate each other, as do Lin and pretty much everyone else, except for Cat. There is tension and messy history; it's a whole thing. As if the haunted mansion wasn't enough, the stress of their interactions raised my heart rate. As this is an novella, it is pretty clear right from the start that the reportedly haunted mansion, is indeed quite haunted. There's not a lot of filler to get through. This story revolves around a Ohaguro Bettari, which translated, if I am informed correctly, actually means, nothing but blackened teeth. This is a type of Yokai that I have never come across before and I found it fascinating. Additionally, I have really only ever read about Yokai in Japanese-inspired Fantasy stories, which of course, is generally Dark Fantasy, but reading about Yokai in the Horror genre was completely new for me. I loved that aspect. The haunted house vibes and the way that was presented was so engaging. I couldn't stop turning the pages. It was really well imagined. I think my main issue with this story was in the presentation; the writing style, or the narrative voice. I'm not sure which. The writing, at first glance, seems overdone. The use of ridiculously obscure vocabulary and nonstop, unnecessarily overwrought prose really rubbed me the wrong way while I was reading it. The more I think about it though, I don't think this was the author showing that they are the most intelligent person in the room, I think it is the personification of Cat's character. I could be interpreting this completely wrong, but I feel like Cat's character, who doesn't seem to like herself, had her intelligence as the one thing she could count out. Towards the end, as she was having one of her numerous fights with Nadia, she says how smart she is. I am smart, she exclaims. Since the entire narrative is pretty much her inner monologue, I started to think about the story in that way, as that being her voice. Her way of seeing the world actually used those big words. That's her crutch and it started to make sense that way. After I had that realization, I became more forgiving about those aspects of the story that so heavily turned me off initially. As this is a novella, there's not a lot of build up and it did seem to end rather abruptly. As Horror novellas go, however, I would say this is a really strong one. It will definitely stick in my mind for a long time to come. Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Nightfire, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I would definitely be interested in picking up more from Cassandra Khaw!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Book Clubbed,

    Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC. Listen to the full review at: https://bookclubbed.buzzsprout.com/ Horror novels are hard—using words to conjure images to creep you out as you sit on your hammock outside in the sun. But she decided to not even try and instead focus on showing off how clever she is. Being clever is easy—there is nothing behind it, no emotion, no greater truths, no human connection—it is simply a brief blip of intellectual flexing of the bicep or showing off your tanned midriff, Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC. Listen to the full review at: https://bookclubbed.buzzsprout.com/ Horror novels are hard—using words to conjure images to creep you out as you sit on your hammock outside in the sun. But she decided to not even try and instead focus on showing off how clever she is. Being clever is easy—there is nothing behind it, no emotion, no greater truths, no human connection—it is simply a brief blip of intellectual flexing of the bicep or showing off your tanned midriff, and then moving onto the next thing: We start with a promising premise: a group of twentysomethings stay in a haunted mansion, one tethered to a classic ghost tale, almost wanting to provoke a ghost encounter to get their money’s worth. This group of young adults have all either slept with each other, dated, or at the very least kindled some sexual tension. That, it turns out, is the crux of the novel, their feisty little exchanges going from humorous to exhausting about ten pages in. True horror requires—as far as I can tell—a building of tension, a careful construction of suspense even if we think we know where it is going. The fear comes not in the eventual breaking of it but in the meticulous build-up. There is no suspense in this novella. Instead, there is petty arguing, emotionally distanced mocking of the characters by the author, and occasional insertions of ghosts whenever the author remembered what genre she was supposedly writing for. Characters accuse other characters of acting like a protagonist, they casually discuss the tropes of a ghost story, and at one point the writer actually mentions that: “(r)ead a hundred books on horror, and you’ll find that every last one possesses at least one mention of someone’s eyes gone strange, unfocused and unsettling to witness.” It is not clever, not thought-provoking, not grounding us in the scene. It is an ironic reflex, one in which the author is unable to escape, more preoccupied with slapping similes on each character’s reaction than cultivating vulnerability, the slow drip of horror that the best authors of the genre do so well, or, you know, plot. When we get our first encounter with ghost bride, meant to inspire horror (I think?) we get a long description of how neurons respond in the brain followed by a hacky joke that relies on rearranging where the word “fucking” stands in the sentence. I love a goofy joke like this, but the placement was jarring. This is the author in conversation with herself, a hyper-exaggerated bombardment, closer to a satire of contemporary writing than a real novel. So, what is this book? A reality show inspired novella? A satire of horror? A mash-up of horror and self-effacing Millennial ennui? What it is, really, is a writing prompt, a clever writer who is quite impressed with how clever she can be, shoving a list of vocabulary words and similes into the distorted form of a story.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    The damn hell! These people sucked arse but the creepy story was good! "Well, shit. Yeah. It’s a giant mansion in the middle of nowhere full of dolls and creepy shit." Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾 The damn hell! These people sucked arse but the creepy story was good! "Well, shit. Yeah. It’s a giant mansion in the middle of nowhere full of dolls and creepy shit." Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

  8. 5 out of 5

    jenny✨

    I’d like to preface this by saying that I don’t discourage anyone from reading this book. In fact, let’s support spec-fic authors of colour and READ THEIR WORK! For all that I didn’t personally enjoy Nothing But Blackened Teeth, I think there will be folks out there who absolutely will, as evidenced by several rave reviews already. So let’s get right into things. The prose in this novella is ridiculously, outrageously, unapologetically purple. It is EXCESSIVE, y’all. Part of me admires Khaw for co I’d like to preface this by saying that I don’t discourage anyone from reading this book. In fact, let’s support spec-fic authors of colour and READ THEIR WORK! For all that I didn’t personally enjoy Nothing But Blackened Teeth, I think there will be folks out there who absolutely will, as evidenced by several rave reviews already. So let’s get right into things. The prose in this novella is ridiculously, outrageously, unapologetically purple. It is EXCESSIVE, y’all. Part of me admires Khaw for committing so fully to such overindulgence. But overall, I have to be honest and say that I did not enjoy the writing in this novella. Why? For the very reason purple prose sucks: the flowery adjectives and over-the-top metaphors kept taking me out of the story, detracting more than they contributed. (For example, I thought that the ohaguro-bettari at the heart of this story—and plastered across its INCREDIBLE cover—was too metaphorical, amorphous, messy for my tastes, and that goes for her yōkai minions, too. I get that this was probably a deliberate decision on Khaw's part, but it just didn't work for me personally. I'm not really a fan of storylines that devolve into chaos.) Mind you, these things aren’t bad on their own. I love me an uncommon word, an unconventional turn of phrase. I applaud Khaw’s allergy to cliché; at least, in terms of her actual prose (see discussion of characters below for some qualifications). But my issue is that it was just too. damn. much. Some of the flowery metaphors and weird words worked beautifully; some of them didn’t—like, at all. The book thus wavers between 1) a visceral vividness that engages all your senses, and 2) just plain distracting. I think I could’ve given this 3 stars if I’d felt some degree of connection to the characters, but I just didn’t. Nothing But Blackened Teeth revolves around a friend group defined by their major beef with one another. We are never told explicitly about said beef, however, though it is hammered into you over and over again that they’ve all incestuously been in love or lust with each other at some point in the past, and now they all feel salty about it. In all, it’s VERY hard to feel in the loop, and even more impossible to care about what basically amounts to petty squabbling between the friends. Though Khaw’s prose itself wasn’t necessarily cliché, the characters ended up feeling like clichés. The flowery language imbued the book’s characters—and their many messy romantic entanglements—with a sense of canned melodrama more befitting a cringe-worthy soap opera than supernatural horror novella. The casual rep was great, though. Cat, our narrator, is bisexual and Chinese, raised in Malaysia. Lin is also Chinese. Nadia is part Bengali and part Telegu, Faiz is half-Japanese, and Phillip is white (a fact that the others often rag on, which was pretty freakin’ entertaining). Indeed, I thought the ending redeemed the novella for me; (view spoiler)[Phillip’s gory death, Nadia’s return, and everyone making it out alive except the golden boy (hide spoiler)] … That was a nice inversion of tropes. ◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️ Bottom line: Nothing But Blackened Teeth was too decadently purple for me, but I absolutely recommend that you read this creepy story to make that call for yourselves. Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Boston

    TW: gore, body horror Maybe it’s odd to say that this novella was a wonderful treat given its content, but let’s be honest here. It was a wonderful treat. The writing was gorgeous and I truly felt like I was in the story. The beginning confusion of the dynamics of the friend group slowly being unraveled as the story gets darker and darker was easily my favorite part. I can’t even begin to explain how I felt. And then the ending was just the cherry on top. Just the right amount of shock and blood. TW: gore, body horror Maybe it’s odd to say that this novella was a wonderful treat given its content, but let’s be honest here. It was a wonderful treat. The writing was gorgeous and I truly felt like I was in the story. The beginning confusion of the dynamics of the friend group slowly being unraveled as the story gets darker and darker was easily my favorite part. I can’t even begin to explain how I felt. And then the ending was just the cherry on top. Just the right amount of shock and blood. Amazing. *Thank you to the publisher for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

  10. 4 out of 5

    Char

    Not gonna lie, I know nothing about Japanese culture and I didn't even know what an "Heian" era was, (in Japanese culture, it's the period that runs from 795 to 1185),before I started this book. Now I know and I also have learned that Cassandra Khaw is a phenomenal writer! In a famous haunted mansion from the Heian era, a young couple, for whatever twisted reason, wants to get married. Only a few friends are invited as it's a long trip and let's face it-this kind of thing is not for everyone. All Not gonna lie, I know nothing about Japanese culture and I didn't even know what an "Heian" era was, (in Japanese culture, it's the period that runs from 795 to 1185),before I started this book. Now I know and I also have learned that Cassandra Khaw is a phenomenal writer! In a famous haunted mansion from the Heian era, a young couple, for whatever twisted reason, wants to get married. Only a few friends are invited as it's a long trip and let's face it-this kind of thing is not for everyone. All the people here have history with each other, which makes for some interesting dynamics-which takes a back seat when the supernatural action starts up. Will the happy couple be able to get married without a problem? Will any of them escape with their lives? You'll have to read this to find out! I've long said that the novella is a perfect vehicle for a horror story. It's just long enough to introduce the characters and create feelings towards them, while short enough to keep the tension high and the scares well...scary. All of the that is the case here, and more. The prose? The prose is purply beautiful at times, while at other times, sharp as a knife. The beauty of the mansion is hidden behind the rot and corruption that have taken over and the way that Khaw describes how that came to be is gorgeous. The imagery is vivid and bright, and I had no problems picturing any of the scenes, while at the same time the sharpness of the prose could be like a knife point. For example: "I hope the house eats you." It doesn't get much sharper than that! I think I'm going to leave this review at what I've already written. I don't want to give any part of the story away, but I will add that Cassandra Khaw is a force to be reckoned with. I can't wait to read more of her work! My highest recommendation! Available October, 2021. *Thank you to Nightfire and to NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Five friends rent out a haunted old Japanese house for a spooky wedding - but turns out them advertised ghosts is real and ghosty is getting revengey! Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth appealed to me because it’s a haunted house story, which I love, and it’s set in an old Japanese house, which I’ve never seen before, so it’s disappointing to say the book is actually a stinky pile of ectoplasm. Horror in general is hard to write and really good haunted house stories are few and far bet Five friends rent out a haunted old Japanese house for a spooky wedding - but turns out them advertised ghosts is real and ghosty is getting revengey! Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth appealed to me because it’s a haunted house story, which I love, and it’s set in an old Japanese house, which I’ve never seen before, so it’s disappointing to say the book is actually a stinky pile of ectoplasm. Horror in general is hard to write and really good haunted house stories are few and far between, but Nothing But Blackened Teeth fails especially badly at both attempts. All that happens is that the group run around the old house at night while the ghost possesses one of them and smiles, showing off its blackened teeth. It’s such unimaginative storytelling. The cast are an unlikeable group of moronic upper-class twonks. Why they’re friends at all in the first place is a mystery as they seem to loathe each other from the beginning. Almost all of the book is these five idiots bickering about their past relationships and vapid love triangles with one another. I didn’t care about any of it or what was going to happen to them. Khaw seems to think it’s clever to have some of the characters break the fourth wall by talking about “this is the part in the movie/story where this character dies/this thing happens, har har”, which isn’t smart, it’s annoyingly twee and irrelevant. She also throws in Japanese terms to describe the ghost’s appearance - like ohaguro-bettari and shiromuku - without explaining what they are, so you can’t picture what on earth she’s talking about. Lazy cliches abound - the house happens to have a library that happens to have a book explaining the ghostly situation and how to fight the evil spirit (how convenient!) - and the backstory of the haunting couldn’t be less creative. The ending is contrived rubbish and the “emotional” finale is painfully forced. This book reads like an amateurish first draft. Thoroughly underwhelming and boring garbage through and through, don’t bother with Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Bad Writing!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    THAT COVER, Y'ALL. A deliciously disturbing horror tale filled with Japanese folklore references. Creepy as fuck (just the way I like it). My only complaint is that it's quite a small book and the characters were so interesting that I wanted more. THAT COVER, Y'ALL. A deliciously disturbing horror tale filled with Japanese folklore references. Creepy as fuck (just the way I like it). My only complaint is that it's quite a small book and the characters were so interesting that I wanted more.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cillian

    I had this shelved as "horror" but what the fuck: Dora the Explorer is scarier. I'll get straight to the point because I can't feel anything besides contempt and utter repugnance for Khaw's writing and for the incredibly stupid clusterfuck this book was and would like to get this over with. In my life as a reader, I came across terrible, awful writing and the worst similes...or so I thought. I was treated to lines such as "the boots hugged my calves like hands" (The Iron Thorn), "crackling like a I had this shelved as "horror" but what the fuck: Dora the Explorer is scarier. I'll get straight to the point because I can't feel anything besides contempt and utter repugnance for Khaw's writing and for the incredibly stupid clusterfuck this book was and would like to get this over with. In my life as a reader, I came across terrible, awful writing and the worst similes...or so I thought. I was treated to lines such as "the boots hugged my calves like hands" (The Iron Thorn), "crackling like a cat's fur during a thunderstorm" (The House of Dead Maids), some love interest's hands that were so hot they fogged the glass (Hourglass). Add to the list this example of dreadful repetitive writing "SHE WAS SHOT IN THE HEAD! My mother was standing behind me. She was standing behind me the whole time. MY MOTHER WAS STANDING BEHIND ME THE WHOLE TIME!" (Amity). These are just very few examples but enough to prove that I'm no longer easily horrified. This book, however, took the cake. I want to make a formal apology to all these books I just threw under the bus: you were not the worst, you were far from being the absolute worst. Cassandra Khaw was too preoccupied working on her ridiculous writing to illustrate how unstable her main character was, so busy with her idiotic similes she forgot to write a story. "Her footsteps frictionless as envy." (The author actually thought that was good and her editor didn't see a problem with that either. File under "how the fuck did this happen?") "...a predatory stillness that drove a scream through the medulla oblongata." (Because of course, when you're terrified about the prospect of being trapped in a dilapidated mansion with that eyeless handsome woman, the first thing that comes to mind is the medulla oblongata. I can completely relate, whenever I find myself in a situation of unbearable distress, I always think of the pituitary gland and the inner workings of the digestive system.) And for my favorite; oh this is a treat for the masses. "...the sinsong timbre of his voice familiar, the sound of it like a coyote lying about where he'd left the sun." I am now a true believer that what's been seen cannot be unseen. How? What brain can think of such stupid, ridiculous, pretentious garbage. This is garbage from someone who thinks she's a good writer. Now, listen. I know there are myths about coyotes and their lies; one, I think, was about it telling its first lie about not laughing (Wikipedia it if you want to dig deeper, I'm running out of fucks here). So, this could be tied to a myth or saying I ignore; I will give it the smallest benefit of the doubt because Cassandra is from Malaysia and I'm not familiar with her folklore or any Malaysian sayings, phrases or stories. That's it, end of love. (And for the record: if there is some form of saying/myth/folk tale that would clarify that mess, I will take it back and edit it. But good luck explaining the fucking medulla oblongata.) There's a difference between being lyrical, witty, unconventional or any alternative descriptor you want to use to justify this pile of shit. Cat never came across as an eccentric and disturbed woman whose mind went every which way. It came out forced and desperate for applause. The story? What story? 5 assholes who can't stand each other end up together in a Heian-era mansion Phillip the "privileged" (wink wink; he was called that maybe 7 times during the book. We got it, Cass; your winking became Morse code) rented to celebrate a wedding. By the time ghost lady made her appearance I didn't even notice: the moment got so lost in Cat's clever similes I thought she was talking about her luggage. Okay then, ghost's here, let's roll. And rolling I did, but by myself with nothing but smelly grass stuck to my ass for company. Nothing fucking happened. Cassandra had all the tools: a run down mansion, black-toothed, eyeless angry spirit with a heavy history and a lot of baggage...all squandered in purple bullshit writing. What came out of it...well... think The Woman in Black/Blairwitch meets piece of shit. And the way they fixed a problem? (view spoiler)[ In a dilapidated library full of books covered in mold, they happened across THIS book that had carefully written instructions on how to undo the curse which was bad enough, except that some pages prior, the groom who read the instructions admitted not speaking Japanese. So, what language was it written in? I mean, the book found in a Heian-era mansion in Japan that was written centuries ago? Even the ghost spoke Japanese, so how were they able to read it? Was it, maybe, conveniently written in a language they spoke? (hide spoiler)] What a novel concept. I will forever cringe at the name Cassandra Khaw, something a horror story writer could take as a compliment; interestingly enough, the only scary, dread inducing element in this book was the writing. Mention Cassandra Khaw's similes lightly and I promise I'll shit my pants.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.0 Stars Normally, haunted house stories don't work particularly well for me, but this was a wonderful exception. This story successfully  balanced a creepy atmosphere with an exciting climax.  I really loved the incorporation of so much Japanese language and culture in this story. The inclusion of mythological Japanese creatures really added to the story. In many ways, this was a very simple, traditional horror narrative. This book is filled with horror tropes, yet the diverse setting made the st 4.0 Stars Normally, haunted house stories don't work particularly well for me, but this was a wonderful exception. This story successfully  balanced a creepy atmosphere with an exciting climax.  I really loved the incorporation of so much Japanese language and culture in this story. The inclusion of mythological Japanese creatures really added to the story. In many ways, this was a very simple, traditional horror narrative. This book is filled with horror tropes, yet the diverse setting made the story feel fresh. Personally, I never tire of the breakdown of a group of friends. It's clear that the author shares my love for a classic survival story. Overall, I really enjoyed this novella and would absolutely recommend it to any horror reader. Disclaimer I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

  15. 4 out of 5

    luce

    | | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | | and this was supposed to be a horror story? the only unsettling thing about this novella is that cover. Nothing But Blackened Teeth was probably my most anticipated October 2021 release, and boy, did it disappoint. I mean, given that N.K. Jemisin called it “Brutally delicious!” I went into this novella with high expectations. After getting through this novella’s opening scene, my expectations were quashed. There is an argument of sorts between 4 generic people that | | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | | and this was supposed to be a horror story? the only unsettling thing about this novella is that cover. Nothing But Blackened Teeth was probably my most anticipated October 2021 release, and boy, did it disappoint. I mean, given that N.K. Jemisin called it “Brutally delicious!” I went into this novella with high expectations. After getting through this novella’s opening scene, my expectations were quashed. There is an argument of sorts between 4 generic people that was as realistic-sounding as, say, any line of dialogue from Riverdale (“Besides, my money is your money. Brothers to the end, you know?” / “You nearly cost me everything,” Talia said, still staccato in her rage.”). Our narrator is at this allegedly creepy mansion in Japan that will serve as a wedding venue because the bride happens to be in haunted places. Our narrator doesn’t get on with the bride, there is beef between them because of whatever. They bicker and swear a lot (so edgy of them). Nothing much happens. Characters think the place is creepy, they hear something, and then towards the latter half of the novella, the story gives a half-hearted attempt at horror. There were 0 stakes, the 4 or 5 characters in this novella were different degrees of bitchy and hysterical. Their reactions/responses and the way they interacted with one another struck me as unbearably fake and unconvincing. The narrator’s edgy descriptions of their hands, faces, and voices did nothing to make their words or actions credible. I made the mistake of listening to this audiobook as I was re-reading The Haunting of Hill House and let me just say that Nothing But Blackened Teeth ain’t it. This novella is devoid of nuance and seems to believe that it is being a lot grittier and more subversive than it actually is. The characters are paper-thin and the mc’s narration is so self-dramatising as to be unbearable. In addition to weak dialogues and non-existent characterisation, this novella fails at atmosphere and tone. The haunted house is described so vaguely that it never struck me as a real place. The ghost is cheesy. While the novella tries to be more self-aware of horror tropes it ends up dishing out the same tired clichéd and ‘twists’. The narrator is bi but she only shares romantic/sexual tension with the 3 male characters (she dislikes and is disliked by the bride-to-be). Also, as you may have by now realised, I have already forgotten all of these characters' names. Our narrator is a bitch, the bride-to-be is a fake, the groom exists, there is a character who is supposed to be a joker but comes across as plain rude and unfunny, and, lastly, there is a white guy who tries hard to be the golden boy. That's all I remember about them. And they all like to get into really inane arguments that serve as mere page-filler. While Nothing But Blackened Teeth is by no means the worst thing I've read this year, it is a truly banal horror story. If you liked it, fair enough. If you are interested in reading it I suggest you check out more positive reviews as I have nothing good to say about it (wait, i lie, that cover is relatively disturbing, so there you go).

  16. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    And her mouth, of course, from its teeth through to the tunnel of its throat: black. I've only had the pleasure of reading Cassandra Khaw's short stories before now, and while I loved those too, I now consider myself irrevocably hooked. Whatever Cassandra writes, I don't think I'll need a premise or a blurb; I'm sold on the way their dark and twisted prose has dug deep into my mind and won't leave. Nothing But Blackened Teeth starts off with a refreshing twist on a favorite trope: a group of And her mouth, of course, from its teeth through to the tunnel of its throat: black. I've only had the pleasure of reading Cassandra Khaw's short stories before now, and while I loved those too, I now consider myself irrevocably hooked. Whatever Cassandra writes, I don't think I'll need a premise or a blurb; I'm sold on the way their dark and twisted prose has dug deep into my mind and won't leave. Nothing But Blackened Teeth starts off with a refreshing twist on a favorite trope: a group of slightly estranged friends escaping off to a secluded spot for a reunion (in this case, a wedding). This is one of my favorite horror setups, but Khaw makes it shiny and new (or, should I say, moldy and decaying) by setting it in a legendary, decrepit manor in rural Japan. Our cast of characters are all immensely flawed, some downright unbearable whether due to cruelty or cowardice, but the protagonist had my heart from page one (a fellow chronically depressed bi person, how could I not love Cat?). The atmosphere is palpable; every moment, I felt as though I could turn around and find myself in one of these rotting rooms. The scares are unique, bizarre, and unsettling in the sense that the spirits' motives feel at times entirely unhinged. There's an element of brutality that had me in awe, and a suspense that kept me on the edge of my seat. Truly, I adored everything about Khaw's storytelling and I know this is a book I'm going to be recommending to anyone who will listen for a long time to come. ✨ Representation: Cat is bisexual and Chinese, Lin is Chinese, Faiz is Chinese/Japanese, Talia is Bengali/Telegu ✨ Content warnings for: (view spoiler)[violence, death, suicidal ideation, mentions of self harm, depression, mentions of live burial (hide spoiler)] All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this review copy in exchange for an honest review! ——— twitter | booktok | bookstagram | blog

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    Originally published at Cemetery Dance: https://www.cemeterydance.com/extras/... It’s one of the most beloved horror tropes: A group of friends travels to an abandoned building rumored to be haunted. The friends are either going to film a documentary, or just see what happens when they attempt to spend the night. Horror ensues. It’s tempting to believe this trope has been done too many times to promise anything original but, thankfully, horror writers disagree and keep telling the story in their own Originally published at Cemetery Dance: https://www.cemeterydance.com/extras/... It’s one of the most beloved horror tropes: A group of friends travels to an abandoned building rumored to be haunted. The friends are either going to film a documentary, or just see what happens when they attempt to spend the night. Horror ensues. It’s tempting to believe this trope has been done too many times to promise anything original but, thankfully, horror writers disagree and keep telling the story in their own, unique voice. Nothing But Blackened Teeth is the tale of a dysfunctional group of friends who are gathering together for an experiential, destination wedding ceremony inside a Heian period mansion notorious for its ghost-bride legend. Strong comparisons to The Ritual by Adam Nevill in the set-up, with the focus on the tense dynamic between friends in order to build tension. The setting is rich with potential for mind-numbing horror. The author holds back at first, developing an atmosphere rife with past hurts and wrongs; soon, the book slowly begins its descent into darkness. All the characters are self-absorbed and preoccupied with their own circumstances. They are highly sensitive people; reactive to every small offense. Much to the reader’s dismay, everyone is utterly oblivious to the nature of their surroundings as they argue over mundane things. The drama is entertaining and Khaw’s prose is wickedly sharp, but the emphasis on the characters’ relationships is a disproportionate distraction for such a short ghost story. Eventually, Khaw indulges in terror-inducing imagery and some seriously unsettling scenes but it was quickly upstaged by more bickering and banter. I enjoyed the darker twists and turns but ultimately, I wanted more. This is such a tease! I’m hoping that Cassandra Khaw has a lot more horror up her sleeve. I’m here for it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sheena

    Hmm.. I'm not sure how to rate this one. There are A LOT of things I didn't like. There are similes and metaphors in every other sentence and the writing was a bit pretentious. Big words were used for the sole purpose of using big words. The writing and I just didn't connect. Another thing I could connect with were the characters.. I hated all of them. They all hate each other actually but they're all friends at the same time. I thought this dynamic was poor because it focused a lot on their dra Hmm.. I'm not sure how to rate this one. There are A LOT of things I didn't like. There are similes and metaphors in every other sentence and the writing was a bit pretentious. Big words were used for the sole purpose of using big words. The writing and I just didn't connect. Another thing I could connect with were the characters.. I hated all of them. They all hate each other actually but they're all friends at the same time. I thought this dynamic was poor because it focused a lot on their drama rather than any horror aspects of the book. Keep in mind, this is a novella and most of it was petty drama between the group. We don't really even know why they all hate each other but one thing for sure is that I hate all of them. Okay, I might be too harsh but I had such high expectations. I mean, look at that cover? That alone gave me promise of a great horror novella but I was disappointed. I just wish we were given more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    daph pink ♡

    A group of friends who grew up together in Malaysia gather to spend one night in a dilapidated Heian-era manor house to celebrate an imminent wedding between two of their number. An historic home built on the bones of an entombed bride-to-be and more than two hundred companion girls carries a certain fascination for them, as ghostly thrill-seeking used to be their lifeline. After all, what better venue to plan a wedding and waste a large portion of their near-billionaire friend Phillip's inherit A group of friends who grew up together in Malaysia gather to spend one night in a dilapidated Heian-era manor house to celebrate an imminent wedding between two of their number. An historic home built on the bones of an entombed bride-to-be and more than two hundred companion girls carries a certain fascination for them, as ghostly thrill-seeking used to be their lifeline. After all, what better venue to plan a wedding and waste a large portion of their near-billionaire friend Phillip's inheritance than here?? Despite this semi interesting plotline and stunning cover there were many things that bothered me. What took me off guard with this book was that it had a lot of dialogue where it was attempting to be self-aware and borderline comedic. And while I don't hate a laugh or two mixed in with my scares, a lot of the discussions between characters took me out of the moment from this incredibly dark atmosphere that Cassandra Khaw had been building. I was uninterested in any of the characters. I wouldn't have given a fuck if they had died. Every time, their reasoning and feelings astounded me. Simply put, it wasn't creepy in the least.

  20. 5 out of 5

    L.S. Popovich

    I'm a sucker for Japanese settings. The plot is as simple as a horror movie. Horror movie fans will appreciate the many nods to the genre tropes she offers. At bottom, it is a quirky take on tried and true set-pieces, a cinematic, low-budget adventure, rife with her signature post-punk similes. Khaw's style is eccentric. The number of f-bombs is too realistic (nearly every sentence). That plays into the horror movie vibe. The raw material of the prose is concealed by elaborate, rapid-fire flouri I'm a sucker for Japanese settings. The plot is as simple as a horror movie. Horror movie fans will appreciate the many nods to the genre tropes she offers. At bottom, it is a quirky take on tried and true set-pieces, a cinematic, low-budget adventure, rife with her signature post-punk similes. Khaw's style is eccentric. The number of f-bombs is too realistic (nearly every sentence). That plays into the horror movie vibe. The raw material of the prose is concealed by elaborate, rapid-fire flourishes of tongue-twister similes. Some good Japanese vocabulary and folkloric references. A bit of angst, character flaws in the forefront. You have to come into it with the right mentality. This is a bit of cheesy fun, B-movie fare, with an edge of kaleidoscopic weirdness. Khaw's method is best suited to bloodbath scenarios and conjuring eldritch shadow-puppets with her maverick imagination. I can't wait to see where her career leads.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    Even if it was a house with rotting bones and a heart made out of a dead girl's ghost, I'd give it everything it wanted just for scraps. Some unabridged attention, some love. Even if it was from a corpse with blackened teeth. Anything to feel alive again right now. 🖤🖤🖤 this creepy, poetically-penned novella is a fun ride! it's about five young people with a lot of vaguely-defined baggage and history together, and their foolish choice to rent a decrepit haunted mansion in rural japan. sounds lik Even if it was a house with rotting bones and a heart made out of a dead girl's ghost, I'd give it everything it wanted just for scraps. Some unabridged attention, some love. Even if it was from a corpse with blackened teeth. Anything to feel alive again right now. 🖤🖤🖤 this creepy, poetically-penned novella is a fun ride! it's about five young people with a lot of vaguely-defined baggage and history together, and their foolish choice to rent a decrepit haunted mansion in rural japan. sounds like a horror movie, right? something i really enjoyed about nothing but blackened teeth is its awareness of its cliché premise. some of the characters even acknowledge horror tropes and the fact that everything taking place is like a scary story; but that does not mean they're able to escape the tale they're in. the book is steeped in japanese folklore, and deals primarily with ohaguro-bettari: a ghost in a beautiful wedding kimono, with blackened teeth and no other facial features. scary shit!! but there are also references to other yokai, or japanese spirits. the mansion's wallpaper comes alive with kitsune, gashadokuro, and other cool creatures. of course, i have to address the flowery writing style. the prose is downright purple, which would have been frustrating in a longer novel. i totally understand why some readers are put off by the writing! but since the story is so short and spooky, i was able to vibe with the poetic language and the interspersed japanese vocabulary. it helps build an atmosphere of slow-moving, ancient dread. this was a three-star read for me, because i didn't connect with the characters enough to love the book. but i'm tacking on an extra star on account of a moment that genuinely terrified me. there's some horrifying imagery in this book, and i dig it!

  22. 5 out of 5

    JasonA

    I've been looking forward to this one, but it didn't really work for me. In my opinion, novellas work best when they're short novels, instead of long short stories. This book's problem is that it is a very, very bloated and verbose short story. The prose was so purple it was almost black. The actual story part of the book could have been told in about half the pages used. The rest is just $10 words, filler and Japanese terminology I had to look up. It felt like a school assignment where you had I've been looking forward to this one, but it didn't really work for me. In my opinion, novellas work best when they're short novels, instead of long short stories. This book's problem is that it is a very, very bloated and verbose short story. The prose was so purple it was almost black. The actual story part of the book could have been told in about half the pages used. The rest is just $10 words, filler and Japanese terminology I had to look up. It felt like a school assignment where you had a page minimum and your teacher was already wise to the expanded margins and larger font, so you had to whip out the thesaurus and adjectivify the hell out of that paper. Character development isn't too critical if you've got a short, plot based story, but some basic character descriptions would be nice. It wasn't until almost the 20% mark before we found out the main character was a woman. Some of the details we do get add nothing to the story, except for confusion. We're told early on that the characters went to school together in Malaysia. Okay, so they're Malaysian. Well, actually, one of them is white and rich. About halfway thru, we find out that two of them are Chinese, but one of those guys is also half Japanese. Everyone forgets that the main character can kind of understand spoken Japanese. Is she Japanese? The rest of the characters? No clue. Other than gender and name, that's about all we get. In a throwaway line, we find out the main character is bisexual. It never really comes up again, but I guess it's good enough to get that LGBTQ classification on Amazon. The only character history that was covered in any detail was that everyone in the group has dated everyone in the group. How could I forget that? They spend more time talking about that than ghosts. Apparently it was also a prerequisite that we've taken at least one college course on Japanese history, folklore and architecture/decoration before reading this book. Seriously. I spent more time Googling terms in this book than I did reading it. That's including the time spent re-reading paragraphs after researching the unfamiliar words and forgetting what I'd already read. Seeing as this is being marketed towards a Western audience, footnotes would have been a huge help getting thru this. Here's a line for example: "On the walls, the yokai danced like they invented the idea, pirouetting through genres and periods, Nara to Muromachi, every shogunate of literati painting, austere to aureate, twelve bodies to a cosmic tango." Nothing builds tension and dread like constantly stopping reading to visit Wikipedia and a dictionary to figure out what you're reading. In the end, this read more like a young adult drama than a horror story. We get one jump-scarish moment when the ghost first shows up, then after that, the ghost(s?) are basically set dressing while everyone else argues. Really. The ghost sits around and laughs at them for the remainder of the book The dating history was far more important to the plot than the ghost. I'm not even going to comment on the slopped together ending. I'd call this 1.5 stars, but I'm rounding up because of the amazing cover art. 11/25/2021 edit: Dropped it back down to one star. This is one of those books that still irk me every time I think about it. No matter how good the cover is, I can't justify the 2 stars.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU. My Review: No one gets do-overs in life. The one thing Horror teaches us, firmly and finally, is that single adamantine truth...that final, fierce fact that trumps them all. When privileged and pretty people want to play, they go mad. They have no reason to consider consequences and no desire to moderate their demands on the Universe's supply of goodwill. There's nothing to say that a destination/theme wedding, a haunted-house horror we I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU. My Review: No one gets do-overs in life. The one thing Horror teaches us, firmly and finally, is that single adamantine truth...that final, fierce fact that trumps them all. When privileged and pretty people want to play, they go mad. They have no reason to consider consequences and no desire to moderate their demands on the Universe's supply of goodwill. There's nothing to say that a destination/theme wedding, a haunted-house horror wedding for five, couldn't be just lovely. Except, of course, common sense. As the events of the day unfold, as the people whose lives were compressed into a block of being by the exigencies of education and privilege come unstuck, their masks reveal the real cracks in their faces. Then the masks fall off. Then the faces fall off. This is a horror novella about the awfulness of unslakable appetites, and the enduring pain of never, ever having Enough. Being enough. Finding enough. Author Khaw has used the silences of screaming people to make this dread-soaked, foregone-conclusion-led, story into a fable for our use. You can find anything in it. You're going to try, so don't bother to front. Looking for a climate-change metaphor? The ancient house with the dead people in its walls. Looking for a religious metaphor? The Forces of Evil animating one of the young people to perform uncharacteristic acts. Revenge fantasy? Dude! Slasher fans: You have a new talent to follow. Author Khaw understands why we love to see the world end in a welter of blood. Go down the dark alley leading up to the ancient haunted mansion with the moldy old books falling apart in its library. Go on. You know you want to.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Hillary

    Take this obscenity out of my sight or I’m going to barf, ugh. I don’t even know what to say, there’s literally nothing I enjoyed about this novella. For such a short book I didn’t think I would find so many elements I would absolutely hate but here we are. The writing style is so choppy and unnecessarily flowery it’s impossible to read without getting distracted. At times the use of adjectives is so redundant it becomes laughable, despite its original intent. Why do I need to read three or four s Take this obscenity out of my sight or I’m going to barf, ugh. I don’t even know what to say, there’s literally nothing I enjoyed about this novella. For such a short book I didn’t think I would find so many elements I would absolutely hate but here we are. The writing style is so choppy and unnecessarily flowery it’s impossible to read without getting distracted. At times the use of adjectives is so redundant it becomes laughable, despite its original intent. Why do I need to read three or four synonyms one after the other when they mean the exact same thing? I got the concept, thank you very much. The characters ruined everything else. I dare you not to hate every single one of them from page 4. Their petty jealous arguing took such a big part of this novella there wasn’t that much space left for the horror. I came here for the dead bride and Japanese demons, not for these ridiculous squabbles about who slept with whom. The aim of the story is very clear, in fact it might just be too on the nose. I think it’s an amazing idea to take hurtful horror tropes and flip them on their heads, but here it was executed so poorly I’m sad about it. I couldn’t stand how the author made comments on horror tropes through the characters. It became apparent what was going to happen after it was continuously mentioned that people of color are the ones that usually die in all horror stories. The book part and epilogue had me facepalm so hard. Brain cells have been lost. I thought it was cool how the main character had to be super ruthless at the end, but that’s the only good thing I can say. Final verdict: I wish I could remove all things associated with this novella from my brain. I’m so grateful to have been gifted the opportunity to read this book early. I’m SORRY.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Kersten

    “Even if it was a house with rotting bones and a heart made out of a dead girl’s ghost, I’d give it everything it wanted just for scraps.” So What’s It About? 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 “Even if it was a house with rotting bones and a heart made out of a dead girl’s ghost, I’d give it everything it wanted just for scraps.” So What’s It About? 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. What I Thought This book has one of my favorite covers in recent memory, and I was so excited to devour it right around Halloween. I ended up being disappointed in what I read, however - Nothing But Blackened Teeth just did not work for me at all. The biggest hurdle for me is the writing, which I would describe as rather overwrought. Nearly every action or line of dialogue is followed by several metaphors and similes of varying quality describing what the person looks like or sounds like. One particularly egregious example: “Faiz stared at me like I’d told him the secret names of the prophets, the private and the profane, the sacred alphabet shared by devotee and deity. He looked at me like I’d taken up the memory of his first word and given him a corpse instead.” There are many lines very similar to these, and they just didn’t work for me. Very occasionally, a lush description would add to the overall atmosphere, but for the most part they slowed the pace to a crawl and killed any tension that’d been drummed up. It’s also fairly on the nose for campy horror in that there’s a group of annoying twenty-somethings who all secretly/not-so-secretly hate each other and spend most of the book making bad decisions and sniping pettily with one another. I know it’s a horror trope, but that still doesn’t make it enjoyable to read, and the horror elements are really overshadowed by the interpersonal drama. There’s also some breaking of the fourth wall - a character remarks that he and the narrator are bound to die because they’re queer and comic relief while the handsome straight white guy will survive, and they decide to search for a library because “there’s always a library.” There is, in fact, a library that conveniently houses a magical, preserved book describing the exact ritual they need to bring Talia back. My feeling is that just because you’re self-aware while using a deus ex machina, that doesn’t really alleviate the problems that are inherent to using a deus ex machina. So, yeah. It didn’t really work for me at all, which is a huge disappointment. Here’s hoping my next Spookening read is a better fit!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine from How Useful It Is

    I would have loved this story more if I understood many vocabularies like yokai, gashadokuro, fusuma, kitsune, kappa, alveoli, somnambulated, hitobashira, gashafokuro, tengu, shoji, ohaguro, tatami, oni and so many more. It’s no fun looking up dictionary for every word I don’t understand while reading. So one advice I would recommend the author is to have a glossary at the end of the book to explain these Japanese terms. It’s my first time reading Japanese ghost story so I’m new to all of the li I would have loved this story more if I understood many vocabularies like yokai, gashadokuro, fusuma, kitsune, kappa, alveoli, somnambulated, hitobashira, gashafokuro, tengu, shoji, ohaguro, tatami, oni and so many more. It’s no fun looking up dictionary for every word I don’t understand while reading. So one advice I would recommend the author is to have a glossary at the end of the book to explain these Japanese terms. It’s my first time reading Japanese ghost story so I’m new to all of the lingo. I’m terrified by the cover, but since I don’t understand many of these terms, I was hardly scared by the story. Despite that, I liked the characters and the frictions between each other. There’s motivation for the ending the way it happened but it was still unexpected to me considering their friendship. This book started with Cat, told in the first person point of view. She has been battling with a terminal ennui and only now able to leave the house and join her friends on an adventure in Japan. Phillip, one of the 5 in their group got first class tickets for everyone to fly to Japan and rented access for a few nights at a haunted mansion for them to stay in. Faiz and Talia are getting married and it’s Talia’s dream to get married at a haunted house. The group of 5 friends enjoyed haunted house and abandoned hospitals in their spare time. The haunted mansion they were staying was rumored that the bride was buried alive waiting for the groom who failed to show up. This book ended with an epilogue. Nothing but Blackened Teeth was well written with a lot of big words. I don’t see these big words often in my fiction reads and I have been reading more than 100 books a year this past 3-4 years. It’s also a new read for me regarding the horror genre. I loved the start of the book. I’m just not sure I liked the ending because Cat & Lin could have interfered but they chose not to. However, I see the dilemma the book from the mansion was asking from the friends. If you love reading horror and understand more Japanese terms for demons and ghosts then you should grab this read right away! xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details Many thanks to Tor Nightfire for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)

    QUICK TAKE: THIS BOOK F*CKED ME UP, DO NOT READ AT NIGHT. WHY WOULD PEOPLE GET MARRIED IN A HAUNTED HOUSE. NO THANK YOU.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance

    This Japanese cultural horror novella is a hauntingly sharp stab of a read. In embellished prose, yet so stark with horrific elements, it is most expressive from the radically piercing cover to its livid content. A handful of young adult friends are heading for an all-expenses-paid trip by one of them, as a gift to two of them who are getting married. Friends since school times, their group dynamic is complex due to some relationship baggage and former relationship contention. Their destination i This Japanese cultural horror novella is a hauntingly sharp stab of a read. In embellished prose, yet so stark with horrific elements, it is most expressive from the radically piercing cover to its livid content. A handful of young adult friends are heading for an all-expenses-paid trip by one of them, as a gift to two of them who are getting married. Friends since school times, their group dynamic is complex due to some relationship baggage and former relationship contention. Their destination is an abandoned imperial palace as the backdrop for the occasion, a once favored venue for beautiful weddings. There is a dark story though that surrounds the place that is built upon 206 bones for every year of the past 1000 years. When the friends arrive and explore the 2 story palace and its many rooms, the voice of an ancient ghost lures them to play a game the ancient samurai played once to see who was the bravest. “In one room sat terracotta monks, head weighted with an ancient regret. In another, dolls with mouths lacquered black. In another, books, or at least the corpses of books. The volumes were mulch, eaten by insects, infested; edifices, turgid with egg chambers, writhed from the rot. “ This leads them to The Hitobashira ritual, the deciding factor on how this game will go. The question is, how does this fit in with the planned wedding, and what have the ghosts in mind for these friends. A poetic approach to horror makes this cerebral modern haunted house story a feast for the senses. *** I fell for the cover first - that’s all I can say. Secondly, I was intrigued by the Japanese lore and the old haunted, imperial palace. This novella reads very modernly and the reader is thrown right into the friend's dynamic. The travel from A to B, in this case, the arrival at the palace to the climax of the story accelerates steady and is very character-driven. The writing is vastly embellished with expressive prose and I enjoyed this a lot. The author does not hold back on gruesome details, yet it doesn’t feel terrorizing or overly gruesome. If you enjoy that bit of sizzle and crack in your horror reads, this might be to your taste. Enjoy! *Quotes taken from an uncorrected proof I received a digital copy of this novella from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you. More of my reviews here: Through Novel Time & Distance

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mel (Epic Reading)

    So disappointing. Not near enough character development. I didn’t care if our teens lived or died. The creatures themselves were well described (and the author cannot take credit for them as they are existing Japanese myth/legend/monster) but their actions quite boring overall. Characters Sadly Nothing But Blackened Teeth really missed the mark for me. At only 90 pages this is much too short for what was trying to be conveyed. Our characters are not only really irritating but barely archetypes of So disappointing. Not near enough character development. I didn’t care if our teens lived or died. The creatures themselves were well described (and the author cannot take credit for them as they are existing Japanese myth/legend/monster) but their actions quite boring overall. Characters Sadly Nothing But Blackened Teeth really missed the mark for me. At only 90 pages this is much too short for what was trying to be conveyed. Our characters are not only really irritating but barely archetypes of your typical ditzy blonde, smart one, buff one, etc. I actually thought of the movie Cabin in the Woods and wondered if the writer had stolen Joss Whedon's archetypes! Additionally the characters are sooo annoying. Their complex love triangle, square, whatever it was almost made them interesting but then having no real details about the relationships or why they ended/began I felt like I was supposed to give them attributes and traits from their bad dialogue that I just couldn't justify. Creatures The actual plot and narrative aren't bad here. They need some development and thought added but overall this could be a good story. The use of the iconic Japanese monsters is clever; and makes the author appear to be more creative than she actually is if you are not familiar with these creatures of myth and lore. For many long time fantasy/horror fans you've probably encountered creatures like this, or similar over the years. I mean one even has a Pokémon modelled after it! So if you feel like the cover is super terrifying and that's what brought you here then know that Cassandra Khaw did not invent this creature. You can read lots more about it, and it's friends, whilst researching ancient myths of Japan. Overall Yes I went in with high expectations; but that was because sooo many people were initially saying how great this short novella sized story was. Then we hit publication day and I feel like the reviews started to really reflect the general public's opinion. While there will be some that swear by this book and are a bit scared reading it; I do believe the vast majority of people will get a lukewarm feeling from these characters, monsters, and plot. By no means do I want to encourage people to immediately grab this one. Honestly it can be skipped entirely unless you really want to know what's involved. At least at just over 100 pages it's not a huge investment of time! Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shainlock

    3.5 Okay I had 4. Then 3. Now I’m splitting the difference and making it 3.5. Edit: I thought about it and added some thoughts. While I loved this little journey into Japanese tradition and dark folklore, and the horror stories from Japan usually send chills blowing off of those dark waters going all the way to the bone; the scariest thing the ghost did was put her finger in someone’s mouth. I was a bit sad that it was such a quick read, though, once it got going. I wanted something to happen. Mo 3.5 Okay I had 4. Then 3. Now I’m splitting the difference and making it 3.5. Edit: I thought about it and added some thoughts. While I loved this little journey into Japanese tradition and dark folklore, and the horror stories from Japan usually send chills blowing off of those dark waters going all the way to the bone; the scariest thing the ghost did was put her finger in someone’s mouth. I was a bit sad that it was such a quick read, though, once it got going. I wanted something to happen. Modern day and ancient tradition collide in this beautiful and lushly described tale of waiting. Some of us are patient to wait our entire lives almost to get the things that truly matter to us; while others will sacrifice and remain beyond even that to ensure our place in that garden of gardens (even to the demise and detriment of others). Just look at that face. Come on. That's a sweet, patient face. Kisses and hugs.. Right? She's lovable!? Just wanna adopt her! The ancient Japanese mansion unfolds as it feels it should corresponding to each.moment in the story. We go along and observe; to experience the eavesdropping, little, rendered yokai inhabitants and dialog of the visitors, as only small windows of insight into one named Cat opens. Some descriptions read like naturally flowing poetry while at other times the writing feels quite visceral and almost gritty. I was amazed at the transition. It gets a bit crazy, like any story of this type would, but that's what you get for staying.  That's what you get for playing-- along. You play the role you were always born to play.  That’s the scary part. The waiting. The idea was beautifully creepy and sublime, but the flip flopping from the powdery and dreamlike to the biting and vulgar was, well, off-putting. I could have done without the second part. The cultural elements w teeth blackening prevalent during certain periods, the yokai, in particular the kitsune, the various food references and bits of language were some of the best parts. I knew most of this from being a fan of various Japanese cultural things, food, phenomena for many years and having learned from before what a lot of these things were and some history. A couple things got me; some things didn’t make sense plot wise or sense wise even if you did know what everything was! (No one speaking Japanese but looking for books w solutions in ancient Japanese ??)

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