I had listened to two thirds of Cassandra Khaw’s story, NOTHING BUT BLACKENED TEETH, then put it down for a couple months. Last night I decided to finish listening to this tale on audible.
I left a mini review on Instagram- first semi legit review I’ve posted on social media. Check that one out as well at @consumeideas on IG if you want.
First off, I enjoyed this story. A quickie, nothing like reading IT or THE STAND. It packed a solid punch to the gut, so the length I felt as a reader was perfect.
The basic premise is this group of adults in their early twenties is allowed permission to stay in a haunted, abandoned mansion somewhere in Japan. Two of the group members, Talia and Fiez, want to be married in this haunted place. Phillip and Kat are also there in the beginning, and at some point another person named Lynn shows up.
Strange things do begin to happen upon entering the mansion. They’re subtle, but definitely the place is haunted. From what I could gather, the man who owned the place way back when, buried his wives (or soon to be wives) six feet under while they were still alive. Also the man ghost bride haunting the place, uh- I think she buried herself, because her husband never returned to marry her. I apologize, I should know what’s what, but basically women were getting buried beneath dirt while still alive. Also, this happened during what I believe was the feudal age or rule in Japan.
This story has significant similarities to THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson. The house may be possessed- but the house works in a unique way upon its guests. Those in the house begin to loathe and hate each other, to be nasty towards each other.
Same thing going on in this story by Khaw.
At some point the spirits take Talia away to- I have no idea, she’s just no longer in the house with the rest of the group. The house seems to have taken her hostage in another dimension, maybe. Again, not too sure on this.
I love how crazy love can make people. Love unfulfilled. What lengths one will go to in order to reunite with their love, their partner. Clearly the demons of this house have manifested a fun little test for the occupants. And yes there is blood and death.
I’m a huge fan of Shirley Jackson’s writing and storytelling abilities, and feel that Cassandra Khaw has shown up in the industry as a really amazing writer and storyteller. Cassandra’s prose is wondrous, so descriptive and detailed. I feel Cassandra Khaw is maybe the best contemporary wordsmith I’ve come across in the past several years. I mean, great prose. Her storytelling abilities are also really really good.
I try not to give anything away that would spoil this story for you, and I think I did alright in that regard. This is a quickie, like I said earlier, but well worth the price of admission. I recommend this book to fans of horror. The spooky, creepy elements are in this story, but the real horror of this story is how the group starts to treat each other, how, maybe they deep down really don’t care about each other, maybe even despise each other.
A unique story worth reading. I hope some of my observations will entice you to read this story. And if you’ve already read this, what did you think? Did you love it, like it, or dislike it- and why? I’d love to engage with more of you in chatting about stories we enjoy, or didn’t.
See ya next time