Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

“Here’s 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,” (Khaw 109).

A group of five friends travel to Japan for a wedding in a long abandoned Heian-era mansion. The mansion is supposedly haunted, built on the bones of a bride with the sacrificial remains of girls so she doesn’t get lonely. Not a problem for this thrill-seeking group or the bride who’s dreamed of getting married in a haunted house. After a long night of storytelling and booze something lurks in the shadows with a dark smile, and she’s lonely.

Well this book was a huge disappointment. It was making it’s rounds on Goodreads and TikTok last year being hailed as a mastery of short horror and from the cover alone I was intrigued, but this was a major let down. The writing is a major thing for me, pretty at times but is mostly overly verbose, one review described it as being forced to sit through a friend’s poetry reading which is honestly accurate. Pair that up with random descriptions of cerebellum and other brain parts that I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly that Khaw was trying to say.

As many reviews have already said it’s filled with unlikable characters, which honestly I didn’t have an issue with. Sometimes you have to read books with characters who just plain suck and that’s okay, or it usually is if the author works to make them interesting. The issue with Nothing But Blackened Teeth is that because it’s so short nothing gets built-up as it should. I have no idea how these five characters are even friends because they don’t seem to care, let alone like one another and become stock characters of unlikable traits. Because Khaw doesn’t do enough to let us know the characters outside of their unlikable traits there’s no care for the reader when bad stuff happens to them, similarly the horror in the novel can’t be felt because of how short it is. The horror pops out at reader’s without any tension being built, making the scary situations anything but.

Twice in Nothing But Blackened Teeth Khaw describes somethings as “like in a horror movie,” and another character mentions that they need to be careful in the house because of the tropes associated with each of their character in horror movies. Twice may not seem like a lot, but in a 128 page book it’s excessive, and it made me wonder if Khaw was attempting some form of satire with the horror genre. If they were then Cabin in the Woods did in miles better.

I enjoyed the setting, I love reading more diverse horror but Nothing But Blackened Teeth tried so hard to be scary and failed spectacularly. Unless you’re looking for a quick read you could literally finish in a day, avoid this.

Nothing But Blackened 4c.inddPublication: October 19 2021
Publisher: Nightfire
Pages: 128 pages (Hardcover)
Source: Library
Genre: Fiction, Horror, Novella,
My Rating: ⛤⛤

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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