Nothing But Blackened Teeth

Tor Nightfire. Oct. 2021. 128p. ISBN 9781250759412. $19.99. HORROR
Four friends gather at a Heian-era mansion in the Japanese countryside to celebrate the elopement of two of their group. From the start, something is off. There’s no paper trail of their rental, for reasons the owner makes vague; more unsettling is that this house has a haunted history. A thousand years ago, a bride awaited her groom at the site; he never arrived. She made her guests bury her alive under the building’s foundation so she could await him forever. Every year since, it is said, a young woman is sacrificed to help the lost groom find his way back to his beloved. This short novel, immersed in unease and oozing menace, is engrossing and methodically paced. The atmosphere, the characters, and their strained, complicated relationships are carefully constructed and slowly revealed, until the group finds itself in the middle of a nightmare, stalked by a faceless woman in white as they fight to leave the mansion alive. The conclusion will leave all unsettled, haunting both characters and readers.
VERDICT As if the set-up doesn’t sell itself, the book also has a creepy cover that’s perfect for display. Recommend to those who love tales of haunted houses with menacing and dangerous histories that reach out from beyond the grave to entrap the living, such as Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic or David Mitchell’s Slade House.
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