Book Review: Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

This is the problem with horror movies: Everyone knows what’s coming next but actions have momentum, every decision an equal and justified reaction. Just because you know you should, doesn’t mean that you can, stop.


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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My thoughts

On the spooky scale Nothing But Blackened Teeth is 3.5/10. But on the crazy scale, 9/10. Nothing But Blackened Teeth is a quick read. This novella follows a group of five friends who travel to Japan to hold a wedding in a Heian-era mansion that is rumored to be haunted, at the request of the bride-to-be. A story line we all are too familiar with, there is no way it has a happy ending. The land itself has a bloody past, a woman was buried alive after her husband stood her up on their wedding day. Since the tragedy, various women have been buried alive on to attempt to please the spirit of the dead bride. Filled with Japanese folklore, this is a chilling read you should save for a chilly October evening. I enjoyed every minute of this madhouse.

Khaw drops us in right as things become unhinged. The characters have complicated intertwined histories that have developed into a strange group dynamic. I often wondered what was worse, the ghost in the house or the characters toxic connections. Khaw does not explain a lot of backstory upfront, she does not need too, because as the haunting begins the friends chip away at each other’s flaws relieving their secrets and insecurities. I recommend reading into the late night hours to get a truly spooky experience and likely a wild nightmare.

A decade of friendship teaches you a lot of things: the tics that separate I’m sorry and I’m sorry you caught me, that hangdog expression that is really code for when the other person’s expecting you to fix their mess

The storytelling was not the fashion I am used too, but I still enjoyed Nothing but Blackened Teeth. There are various Japanese words I had no idea the meaning of, but assumed they were all associated with ghost, evil spirits, and or ghostly things. This is something to be mindful of before reading. My ebook copy from my local library did not have a glossary, I cannot speak for the hardcopy.

If you are interested in Nothing But Blackened Teeth imagine a classic supernatural slasher in a Japanese setting. The story moves quickly, almost too quickly. It left me wanting just a little more build up before the peak horror unfolds. The ending was not what I expected, but it felt fitting to the nature of the story and the toxic relationships the characters held. I look forward to rereading this wild ride in October.

Should read Nothing But Blackened Teeth?

I recommend Nothing But Blackened Teeth if you like horror. It is a quick read perfect for spooky season, or a wintery afternoon. Like most horror, there are supernatural elements, ugliness of humanity, and gore. If themes such are these do not interest you, this is not the book for you.

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