Nothing but Blackened teeth
A gorgeously creepy classic haunted house story based on Japanese folklore, combining The Haunting of Hill House with The Ring.
A group of thrill-seeking friends in search of the perfect wedding venue plan to spend the night in a Heian-era mansion. Long abandoned, and unknown to them, this mansion rests on the bones of a bride, and its walls are packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.
Their night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare, as the house welcomes its new guests. 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.
Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw is a menacing ghost story set in a haunted Japanese Mansion
The story centres around a group of friends (although that is a term that can be applied loosely) as they rent a Heian Mansion for a wedding for two of the party. The party are a group of thrill seekers who regularly go exploring so called haunted places and have heard that the mansion that they are going to is regarded as one of the most haunted places.
Whilst there are many eerie goings on in the house, the main focus revolves around the groups tenuous relationships with each other, and as we delve deeper into the story, the frayed relationships between the friends become steadily unwound. As the story progresses, we learn of the characters mistrust for each other and how their relationships have become more fractured as time has gone on.
Cat, the central member of the cast has recently experienced some form of mental health crisis but is on the way to recovery and has been invited to a wedding celebration for her best friend, but we soon learn that her best friend’s fiancee is not her biggest fan.
Even though the book is short, Khaw steadily builds layers of tension, not just between the characters, but in the cloyingly, claustrophobic atmosphere of the house.
There are going to be obvious references to Shirley Jackson with Nothing But Blackened Teeth, particularly in the way that the house has just as important a role in the narrative and events of the story, and the fact that you are never entirely sure what is orchestrating the events or widening the tensions of the group. Is it the house itself, or the unnatural presences in the house. In addition to this there is a slight hallucinatory tone to the book and you are never sure what is actually real. I like the fact that the characters are not particularly likeable, and again it gives it that unreal feeling as to whether the events are due to extraneous forces or whether the group are reacting to the environment and are succumbing to their own personal insecurities.
Khaw continuously plays with and subverts common horror tropes, gently having a little bit of a humourous poke at horror films and the formulas that they use. The book never falls into outright horror as Khaw restrains the story and keeps it firmly in the eerie side. In the book, Cassandra Khaw carefully dissects the relationships between the group, and exhibits the scars of their friendships and we see the wounds slowly ooze as we learn that none of these wounds have actually healed. With Nothing But Blackened Teeth, Cassandra Khaw demonstrates a talent for building tension and atmosphere and I think Cassandra Khaw will definitely be a name to watch out for in the future