Nothing But Blackened TeethNothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
Published by Nightfire on October 19, 2021
Pages: 128
View Title on Goodreads
Bantering Books Rating: four-stars

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.

Bantering Books Review

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 hitobashirayokai, 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.